Essex community groups need your vote to secure funding

Roger Forster, Stewart Luck, Mike Fairchild, Stephanie Watson (Chair of Trustees of Debden Village H

Roger Forster, Stewart Luck, Mike Fairchild, Stephanie Watson (Chair of Trustees of Debden Village Hall), Charlotte Diggins, April Gardner, Alastair Donald, Val and Richard Riley. - Credit: Archant

Good causes are urging Uttlesford residents to back their bids to win funding grants of up to £25,000 from a community award scheme.

The Debden Village Hall Trust and West Essex Mind, which is hoping to set up information courses on mental health for parents of teenagers, are competing for grants from the Aviva Community Fund Award.

Both groups are looking to pool as many votes before the end of May to make it onto the shortlist to receive a share of the fund.

Debden Village Hall Trustees have been trying to raise funds to build a new multi-purpose hall for the village for 17 years. The new building will be a community hall, village shop and pre-school.

The old hall, which is in a poor state, is currently used by mums and toddlers, for dance classes, table tennis, parish council and village meetings.

The group needs to raise at least £590,000. So far, with fundraising village events and grants from Uttlesford District Council and various charitable trusts, they have got just under halfway to reach £287,000.

Now they are one of more than 3,000 groups vying to reach the shortlist of the Aviva Community Fund Award. Winners will be awarded sums from £1,000-£25,000.

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April Gardner, who is raising money for the hall, said: “Despite three previous attempts over 15 years to build a new hall, we are even more determined this time to succeed.

“The New Village Hall Group has 18 volunteers who within two years have appointed an architect, done relevant surveys and legalities, gained planning permission, written funding forecasts and costs.

“We are almost half way there to achieving our £590,000 and achieving our goal.

“We are eager to get this hall built before the old one is declared unfit for purpose, and we very much welcome the support of the local community with this project.”

Also seeking votes is West Essex Mind. Affiliated to the national charity, Mind, this provides services across Uttlesford, as well as Harlow and Epping Forest.

The group says it is often approached by secondary schools for help and advice for pupils.

A spokesman said: “Teachers in the county say there is significant increase in the number of parents alarmed by their child’s distressing behaviour and the impact this is having on their life.

“Parents worry about seeking medical help for emotional symptoms because they are concerned about the stigma that still surrounds mental illness.”

West Essex Mind wants to offer emotional wellbeing information courses for parents as evening classes after school starting in September.

INFORMATION: Voting has begun and ends on May 30. To vote for Debden, visit or to vote for West Essex Mind, go to