VAEF Services

VAEF runs a number of projects in the Epping Forest district and surrounding areas. Click on the tabs below to read about each service.

Ace Activities – Day Activities for people with Learning Disabilities

An award winning service for people with learning disabilities

Ace Activities – Project of VAEF has it’s own website – for full details click here or visit


Essex County Council Supplier Recognition Awards 2018

About the project

Ace Activities 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
  • Upcycling
  • Catering
  • Conservation
  • Music
  • Arts and Crafts

Easy to do activities while you are at home:

Dot to Dot Spring Challenge

Making Flapjacks


Taking care of fish

The Very Hungry Caterpiller Addition worksheets

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:

  • Digging
  • Seeding
  • 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: 07851 537466 or email

Social Events and Training

We organise fun things during the year such as canal boat trips, bowling, picnics and more.

The Community Clubs 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:

Tuesday North Weald – Leonard Davis House, Kiln Rd, North Weald Bassett, Epping CM16 6BS
Wednesday Loughton – St John the Baptist Church, Church Lane, Loughton, IG10 1PD
Friday Waltham Abbey – Jubilee Court, Ninefields, Waltham Abbey, EN9 3JB

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!

VAEF Befriending Canal Boat Trip


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

07708 171 116

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.


Assistance can be given to apply for:

  • Attendance Allowance
  • Personal Independance Payments (PIP)
  • Employment Support Allowance (Capability for work assessments)
  • Disability Living Allowance
  • Council Tax Discount
  • Housing Benefits
  • Pension Credit
  • Blue Badge

This is predominently a home visiting service however, due to the current pandemic, assistance and application support is currently being given over the telephone for all applications. The service will return to home visits as soon as regulations allow.

From April 2015 to End December 2021 VAEF Benefits Advice has advised and supported 1443 Epping Forest housebound residents and £1,984,797.18 has been awarded in annual benefits following assistance from VAEF Benefits Advice in addition to Council Tax reductions, Blue Badge applications, Pension Credit and Housing benefits. (This figure is not yet a complete picture of monies awarded as 38 claims remain open and awaiting decision.  These benefits would have remained unclaimed without our assistance.

For further information please contact 07835 310 550

The VAEF Community Services Hub was set up during the covid-19 pandemic to provide a ‘one-stop-shop’ of voluntary services support for people, most impacted by public health restrictions and personal circumstances.

The Community Services Hub supports Epping Forest residents; including, where appropriate:

  • Essential shopping
  • Prescription deliveries
  • Volunteer Centre services
  • Supported volunteering for people with mental health needs
  • Digital assistance
  • Befriending
  • Information and signposting to other services
  • Ukranian Family Support

It also delivers short-term programmes, consultations and activities in the Epping Forest community which aim to improve public health and wellbeing in key, identified areas.


Current VAEF Community Services Hub projects include:

  • Mental Health community services as post-discharge support
  • Epping Forest Men’s Shed Project
  • Digital Learning workshops

For further information about the VAEF Community Services Hub, please contact: or call: 07967 726 851.

Or visit us in person:

Voluntary Action Epping Forest are based at the EFDC Epping Community Hub

(Civic Offices, 323 High Street, Epping CM16 4BZ) on:

Mondays 11.15am – 4.30pm


Wednesdays 10am – 1.30pm

Each day, people will be able to enquire about any of our services however, Monday there will be a focus on volunteering, people wishing to volunteer or organisations looking for assistance from volunteers are welcome to drop in and talk to us about how we are able to support you.

Wednesday, VAEF Community Responders are there to discuss how we can support you. Our community Response offer includes assistance with shopping and prescription delivery if you are isolating due to Covid, information on accessing vaccines, digital support and how to access benefit advice in addition to much more. We are able to signpost you to other VAEF services or supporting organisations in the District.

No need to book, just drop by. Alternatively, if you would prefer to book:

Monday Appointment:

Email or call 07443 264 422

Wednesday Appointment:

Email or call 07967726 851


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, door chains and extra locks, securing carpets, changing light bulbs,
hanging pictures, curtains, fitting toilet seats, building flatpack furniture 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 friendly team are experienced and police checked.
Call 01992 910 701 or 07529 222862
for a quote

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 by calling Qualis Management Ltd (who manage EFDC Housing repairs) on 0333 230 0464. The service will then be explained further and referred to our Handyman where appropriate

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

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 07967 726 851

HARLOW 01279 308 150

UTTLESFORD 01371 404 674


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.





Funded by:

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 call 07443 264422 or email


Contact Us

If you would like further information about the Gardening Service, please contact the Gardening Project Administrator on 07835 310 550 or email

Volunteer Essex Epping Forest a project of Voluntary Action Epping Forest

For Epping Forest District contact the Volunteer coordinator

Telephone:      07443 264422

Twitter:         @vaef01

Facebook:     @vaef01


The Volunteer Centre Epping operates:  9:30am – 5 pm Monday to Thursday 


Voluntary Action Epping Forest also manages the Harlow Volunteer Centre, for further information on opportunties in Harlow, click here

Click Here to view the 2019 Volunteers Week Video

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



This service operates yearly from 1st October – 31st March

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.


Referrals to this service must be through a registered agency. Please contact your support worker to be referred.

Please contact 01992 910 701 or email where we will be happy to assist.


Funded By: