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.

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:

Tuesday North Weald
Wednesday Loughton
Friday Waltham Abbey

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


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 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.

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



Active  – Day Activities for people with Learning Disabilities

An award winning service for people with learning disabilities

Essex County Council Supplier Recognition Awards 2018

About the project

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

Conservation Group

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 is a small group of people with an experienced support or project worker.

The group runs a range of different projects including:

  • Scrub clearing
  • Fence building
  • Pruning
  • Making bird boxes
  • Wildlife monitoring

The Conservation Group meets every Thursday morning at Waltham Abbey and Chigwell (Alternate weeks)

Transport is provided.

Singing Group

Do you like singing?

Would you like to make new friends?

Would you like to join a local singing group?

The Singing Group has worked with the Loughton Youth Theatre and visited older peoples homes for a sing song.

We also perform at local events.

  • We sing lots of different songs
  • We can choose the songs we sing
  • Sing in a group or on your own
  • The idea is to have fun

The Singing Group meets every Friday afternoon in Waltham Abbey.


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 Group

Would you like to make new friends in a friendly place?

Do you like to meet people?

Do you like to have fun?

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

The Talk and Sort Group meets every Tuesday from 2pm until 4pm at the Jack Silley Pavillion, Epping.

We run a range of different activities ranging from Community Art Projects to Indoor and Outdoor Sports Days to Discos and Trips out.

Ace Upcycling Project

New to VAEF, Ace Upcycling!

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. 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.

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.







Contact Us

If you would like further information about the Gardening Service, please contact the Gardening Project Administrator on
01992 564 592


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


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

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.

IMG_0571 Tea Dance 26 28_03_15


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
  • cooking
  • 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!!!

Telephone : 01992 284 761                             Email

Like us on Facebook:


VAEF runs the TimeBank for Epping Forest and Harlow as part of the Essex TimeBank Partnership, supported by Colchester Community & Volunteer Service.


Free Weight Loss service with


Want to lose weight?

Are you struggling to manage your weight?


Join this 12 week programme where you will get resources and encouragement to help you lose weight and be weighed weekly.

Venue:       Voluntary Action Epping Forest, 25 Hemnall Street, Epping, Essex, CM16 4LU

Day:           Every Wednesdays from 12:00-13:00  from 11th April 2018

Just drop in and sign up with VAEF  between 12:00 and 13:00 next door to Epping sports centre.

My Weigh Matters Logo

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

 For further information about our My Weight Matters Programme, please contact:

01992 564 256     

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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 where we will be happy to assist.


Funded By:

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


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: