VAEF runs a number of projects in the Epping Forest district and surrounding areas. Click on the tabs below to read about each service.
The Befriending Service funded by The Big Lottery aims to provide support and friendship for those living on their own or in isolation.
This project was developed to address the need of the socially isolated by providing a befriending service across the Epping Forest District to the elderly aged 65 years or over and their carers and includes short respite for carers whilst social clubs operate.
Currently clubs are run three times a week:
As well as offering weekly social clubs, Voluntary Action Epping Forest Befriending offers fortnightly day trips out which include visits to the theatre, boat rides and much more. These outings provide much needed stimulation to many whilst reducing their social/rural isolation improving quality of life and if required, we can provide transport to these clubs.
In addition to the weekly social clubs and day trips we offer a volunteer home visit befriending service which provides a ‘friend’ who will be able to offer companionship by forming a trusting and supportive relationship offering a smile, a listening ear, links to other services and regular visits to the client’s home.
Please watch a clip of a recent day trip on the Canal Boats below!
Watch a clip of clients and their thoughts of this service by clicking the image below!
All project volunteers are carefully screened and trained. Personal information is kept strictly confidential.
For further information about these clubs or volunteering for them please contact
Voluntary Action Epping Forest Befriending on
01992 284 762
Quotes from Befriending Service Users
‘As you know Peter passed away recently and I wanted to take this opportunity to let you know what being a member of the club meant and brought to his life. He was suffering from a number of health conditions which led him to become isolated and de-motivated. Once at the club his whole persona changed. His face lit up and the twinkle returned to his eyes. Significantly his memory improved too. Sincere gratitude to you and your team for all your hard work’
‘I just want to thank you for introducing my father to the Befriending club. Since being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s earlier this year he started to get depressed. The service you are providing, collecting my father from the house, taking him to the club, entertaining him for the afternoon and bringing him safely home has made such a difference to his week. He really looks forward to his Wednesdays now.’
‘Just a quick note to say thank you to you and everyone at the club. Mum really enjoys it, has made some good friends and it has given her, her confidence back. Thank you again for all the care and understanding that you give to Mum (I don’t know what she would be like without the clubs to look forward to).’
‘I am extremely grateful for your help in introducing me to Josie (volunteer) who is a lovely, kind person and a super befriender. I would also like to say that your work for Voluntary Action is a wonderful achievement’
The benefits advice and information project is available to those whose personal circumstances make it difficult for them to access services in their area or outside of the home. A home visit can be made and information provided on benefits available to the individual along with assistance to complete application forms. The service is available to those who live in the Epping Forest District.
For further information please contact 01992 284 762
What do we do?
When gardens and lawns become overgrown, most of us find it a nuisance. People who are physically unable to do their gardens find it distressing, particularly those who are housebound. The aim of this service is to provide gardeners and volunteers to maintain the gardens of people who cannot do it themselves, free of charge.
The work of this project contributes to independent living making clients feel much safer in their homes and less vulnerable. Clients have reported that an untidy garden can attract unwanted attention, inviting crime and making it difficult to access.
Tasks undertaken by the VAEF Gardening Service include:
- Grass cutting
- Hedge cutting
- Shrub pruning
- Weed and bramble removal
- Application of weed killer if supplied by the client
The Voluntary Action Epping Forest Gardening Service provides a free of charge practical service which enables people to go on living independently. The project also brings together clients and volunteers who benefit from the social interaction of the project.
Who can use our service?
This free service is available to residents of the Epping Forest District who are elderly, disabled, EFDC Council tenants and cannot maintain their gardens on their own and do not have family support networks.
We also offer a chargeable gardening service for elderly, disabled homeowners in the Epping Forest District.
Voluntary Action Epping Forest’s Gardening Service is available Monday to Friday between February and November. No service is provided during December and January.
Office hours between February and November
|Monday||9 am – 4:30 pm|
|Tuesday||9 am – 4:30 pm|
|Thursday||9 am – 4:30 pm|
Interested in Volunteering?
We are looking for volunteers to help with our challenging and worthwhile project. If you would like to volunteer and make a difference to those in need of garden maintenance, please contact the Epping Forest Volunteer Centre 01992 564 256.
If you would like further information about the Gardening Service, please contact the Gardening Project Administrator on
01992 284 762
The Handyman Service is a partnership between Epping Forest District Council and Voluntary Action Epping Forest which launched in October 2012.
The service is funded by EFDC and provides a handyman service to tenants of EFDC properties provided they are over 60 and or disabled and have no one else who can assist them.
Wishing to use the service?
Contact is made via the EFDC Housing Repairs team on 01992 564199. The service will be explained further and referred to the Handyman where appropriate. The Handyman will then make contact and arrange to visit to undertake the work required. We aim to complete all work within two weeks of the referral being made, usually quicker.
Materials used are sourced at the lowest possible cost.
This type of work could include the following:
- Replacing tap washers
- Replacing toilet seats
- Replacing bath and sink plugs
- Replacing light bulbs
- Minor repairs to gates, locks and handles
- Hanging pictures
- Flat pack assembly
- Fitting curtain rails and hanging curtains
- Tightening cupboard doors
- Fitting draft excluders
- Replacing batteries in TV remotes and clocks……. and much more
The service is FREE other than the cost of materials for those eligible as described above.
Quotes from Handyman Service Users
Chris is a lovely man, so clean and tidy. It was lovely having him here, thank you so much. He has done all the little jobs, the curtains look lovely and I don’t have to get wet going to the washing line. Thank you.
Mr S – We appreciate you doing the work. The standard of work and service provided was excellent.
Case Study of service:
Mrs P has recently moved to this bungalow in Waltham Abbey. She has great difficulty walking and uses a mobility scooter to get out and about. Unfortunately the new property does not have a ramp rendering Mrs P housebound. Mrs P contacted EFDC and was advised that a concrete ramp would be installed but it could be delayed by financial constraints until the new financial year (April 2020)
Although a handrail has been fitted alongside of the path the was no handrail at the door. The two steps are nice and shallow however still inaccessible via a mobility scooter that needs to come in and out via the front door.
So we needed a temporary solution. Some kind of outside storage for the scooter would be great but would require an electricity supply and would be quite expensive. What we needed was a temporary ramp but it needed to be something safe, secure and up to the job, a few strips of wood would not be satisfactory.
Many months ago the Handyman supported another disabled client who had donated two folding aluminium ramps to the service. One had been used for a client in North Weald enabling them to negotiate their sloping garden. This other one had sat in storage gathering dust. Having assessed its suitability for the size of the scooter and worked out how it could be secured directly to the slabs I fitted and bolded down the ramp.
I also installed a handrail at the side of the door to assist Mrs P. Throughout the process Mrs P was involved and we discussed issues such as the ramp becoming slippery particularly when the winter comes. Mrs P understands this is a temporary solution only but was absolutely delighted that she could now leave the property independently for the first time in three months
YOUR ODD JOBS COMPLETED BY OUR TRUSTED HANDY PERSON
Do you have jobs at home you are unable to manage?
Are you over 60, disabled or in receipt of benefits?
VAEF can help!
Fitting grab rails and key safes, securing carpets, changing light bulbs,
hanging pictures, curtains, fitting toilet seats, gardening and much more!
If you are in doubt, give us a call and ask if we are able to assist you.
As a charity we can provide Reasonable and Competitive Rates
Our friending team are experienced and police checked.
CALL 01992 910 701
for a quote
Volunteer Essex Epping Forest a project of Voluntary Action Epping Forest
For Epping Forest District contact the Volunteer coordinator
Maggie Gilchrist: 01992 284 761
Address: Unit 14E Woodside Industrial Estate, Thornwood, Essex CM16 6LJ
The Volunteer Centre Epping operates: 9:30am – 5 pm Monday to Thursday
For Volunteering with a difference why not have a look at our Timebanking!
Voluntary Action Epping Forest also manages the Harlow Volunteer Centre, for further information on opportunties in Harlow, click here
Thinking about Volunteering?
Volunteer Centre Harlow is a local voluntary project existing to promote and support volunteering. The Volunteer Centre actively recruits potential volunteers from all sections of the community and places them with local voluntary organisations who are seeking volunteers to help with their work.
We are an equal opportunities project and believe that everyone has the right to volunteer without discrimination. We have information on a great deal of voluntary opportunities available in Harlow and new opportunities arrive daily. Volunteers are needed for a wide range of roles, go to the ‘I want to Volunteer’ tab to find out what opportunities are currently available.
Volunteer Centre Harlow offers support and information to voluntary groups working with or thinking of involving volunteers. This support also enables us to help promote good practice in working with volunteers and advocate the rights and responsibilities of volunteers.
For more details please contact:
Della Nash, Organiser, Volunteer Centre Harlow
Tel: 07910 075101
Ace Activities – Day Activities for people with Learning Disabilities
An award winning service for people with learning disabilities
Essex County Council Supplier Recognition Awards 2018
Active is a multi-activity project for people with Learning Disabilities. We have a range of opportunities to choose from to suit your needs.
- Allotment Project
- Arts and Crafts
Conservation Group Chigwell
Are you interested in local wildlife and plants?
Do you like to be outside?
Would you like to work in a group?
The Conservation group meets at the Grange Farm Centre every Thursday. We work on a wide range of outdoor projects in conjunction with Grange Farm and Essex Wildlife trust.
- Work in a friendly team.
- Experienced staff and volunteers will support and guide you to work on an exciting range of outdoor activities from building creating wildlife friendly environments for birds , hedgehogs and mini beasts to working in the beautiful Roding Valley Meadows.
- Gain a Certificate in Outdoor Learning Practical Skills
Thursday 10.00 -2pm
Transport available in local area
Ace Activities All Star Singing Group Chigwell
Do you like singing?
Would you like to join a local singing group?
Would you like to make new friends?
A great singing group for all abilities.
We meet every Friday at the Grange Farm Centre and have lots of fun singing a wide range of songs all chosen by our singing stars!
- Friendly lunch club
- Singing and signing session led by our qualified signing teacher
- Group and solo performances guided by our experienced singing tutor
- Regular performances
- Trips and outings
Friday 1pm -4pm
No transport at present.
Are you interested in gardening?
Do you like working outside?
Do you like to grow vegetables and plants?
The Allotment Group is a group of 8 people working with an experienced support worker.
We volunteer with residents of an older peoples housing scheme to grow plants and vegetables.
On the allotment we do:
- Planting, and lots more
We have fun and learn new things.
The Allotment Group meets every Monday from 10:00 am until 2:00 pm in Loughton.
Transport is provided.
Ace Arts and Social Club -Epping
Would you like to make new friends in a friendly place?
Do you like to have fun?
Do you like to meet people?
- Friendly lunch club
- Learn lots of different Arts and Crafts
- Visiting Artists
- Meet new Friends
- Trips and outings
Tuesday 1- 4pm
Ace Upcycling Project
Ace upcycling is a small group of young people with Learning Disabilities guided by a skilled team of staff and volunteers, working in partnership with Epping Forest Reuse. We transform donated pieces of furniture for resale to the general public at affordable prices.
This service is chargeable to participants, £25.00 half day and £50 for a Full day.
Please contact Sally Panrucker for further details. firstname.lastname@example.org 01992 564 032
Awards and Certificates
The Jack Petchey Foundation
Established in 1999, The Jack Petchey Foundation gives grants to programmes and projects that benefit young people aged 11-25.
Visit The Jack Petchey Foundation website here.
Social Events and Training
We organise fun things during the year such as canal boat trips, bowling, picnics and more.
Ain’t No Mountain High Enough
We are now in the third year of our exciting music-making project for 16-25 year olds with learning and/or physical disabilities and special needs.
We offer a variety of musical activities with both formal and informal sessions. Our experienced musicians guide our young music makers on a musical journey in vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards, percussion and songwriting.
Our project staff create a safe, nurturing environment for music makers to develop and explore their creativity.
Our goals are:
- To develop and improve the musical skills of our participants.
- To develop listening, appreciation and songwriting skills.
- To develop participants’ self-advocacy
The project is fully funded by the national charity, Youth Music until July 2020 and is free to those taking part.
For further information please contact Marc Balkham 01992 284 761 or email email@example.com
The Epping Forest Time Bank aims to help local people help each other, one hour at a time!
If you already volunteer then you will make an ideal Time Bank member!!
You can use your volunteer hours and bank them as credits to either get support from other people, or to put them in a Epping Forest Community Pot to help vulnerable people such as the elderly who may not have the credits to get help or support from others.
1 hour = 1 time credit
How does it work?
For every hour you ‘deposit’ in a Time Bank, you can ‘withdraw’ the equivalent back in support when you need it.
Time Bank members can offer voluntary activities such as:
- shopping or doing simple errands
- decorating and simple DIY home repairs
- teaching languages
- companionship and visits
- helping with computers
- gardening and much more
- accompanying people to appointments
Timebanking is about sharing skills and time. Whatever your passion or expertise, everyone has something to offer!!!
Like us on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/EFHTB
VAEF runs the TimeBank for Epping Forest and Harlow as part of the Essex TimeBank Partnership, supported by Colchester Community & Volunteer Service.
Helping seniors and those living with a disability in West Essex with their computers, tablets and smartphones.
If you’d like to learn how to:
- use email
- brush up on your existing computer skills
- book a doctor’s appointment, shop online, etc
Even if you’ve never used a computer before but would like to learn, please get in touch.
We hold informal sessions where seniors and those living with a disability can learn more and get to know others.
To find out more, please call:
EPPING FOREST 01992 910 701
HARLOW 01279 308 150
UTTLESFORD 01371 404 674
CAN YOU HELP US?
Do you know a bit about computers or smartphones and have a couple of hours spare per week?
Would you be willing to help others in your community improve their computer skills?
If so, we’d love to hear from you! Please have a look at our website, fill in some details and we’ll be in touch.
Free Weight Loss service with
Want to lose weight?
Are you struggling to manage your weight?
Join this free 12 week programme where you will get resources and encouragement to help you lose weight and be weighed weekly.
- Award winning programme with proven success
- No fad diets – all programmes follow NHS guidance
- No groups – brief individual support (get weighed and pick up your weekly pack)
Currently taking place in three locations:
Venue 1: Voluntary Action Epping Forest in conjunction with ACE and EFDC, 25 Hemnall Street, Epping, Essex, CM16 4LU – Every Wednesdays from 12:00-13:00
Venue 2: Voluntary Action Epping Forest in conjunction with ACE and Waltham Abbey Museum, 39-41 Sun Street, Waltham Abbey, Essex, EN9 1EL – Every Tuesday from 16:00-17:00
Venue 3: Voluntary Action Epping Forest in conjunction with ACE and Restore Community Church, Oakwood Hill Community Hall, Longcroft Rise, Loughton, Essex, IG10 3NB – Every Wednesdays from 14:00-15:00
Just drop in and sign up with VAEF during these times at any of these locations.
Voluntary Action Epping Forest is working in partnership with Anglian Community Enterprise (ACE) commissioned by Essex County Council to provide weight management programmes. The service is community-based and designed to support people to achieve a gradual, long term weight loss by weighing in at a variety of community sites, accessing the MWM online programme.
We care about treating everybody with kindness, dignity and respect at all times. Interventions provided are in accordance with evidence-based practice and national guidelines. Online resources are available at www.acelifestyle.co.uk
For further information about our My Weight Matters Programme, please contact:
01992 284 761 firstname.lastname@example.org
Do you require support this winter or know someone who does?
VAEF will be delivering services to residents in the Epping Forest District in support of Essex County Councils Winter Warmth Campaign.
The service will provide help to those whose health and wellbeing is at risk during the cold weather.
VAEF will support older and vulnerable people deemed in need in the District by providing:
- food parcels
- warm clothing / bedding
- small heating appliances & microwaves
- fuel tokens
- fitting draft excluders & curtain rails
- sealing windows
all of which will assist in keeping yourselves and your homes warmer.
Please contact 01992 910 701 or Email email@example.com where we will be happy to assist.