Tucked quietly in the back of a small industrial estate in Heybridge (CM9), a group of dedicated third sector workers serve the needs of the wide-spread Maldon voluntary sector.
A Heybridge hub
Maldon and District CVS (MDCVS) currently operates to meet a variety of identified social, and health-related needs, using a range of community initiatives.
Struggling with rising costs and severe cut backs in this austere climate, the team continue to offer services despite the challenges they face. Their continued efforts demonstrate a loyalty and commitment that many within established public services appear to have abandoned under bureaucratic pressures and the jostling scrabble for survival.
Directly serving residents, they work to deliver need driven groups and projects with a supportive, respectful informality that belies their degree of expertise and professionalism.
In their work to provide and inform a variety of community projects with networking opportunities, MDCVS also offers support at the structural and development level by giving appropriate advice regarding law and best practice models.
Their efforts enable community groups to boost their prospects to successfully access the imposing world of funding, by enhancing any application process with the experience and familiarity MDCVS have accrued.
Whatever level of knowledge or proficiency any community venture has, the aim for the organisation is always to suitably assist; whether it be with developing a proposed constitution, registering as a charity, or defining policies and procedures.
Sarah Laskar, Volunteer Centre Co-ordinator, spends most of her time linking volunteers with opportunities for useful and purposeful experience within their community, whilst matching voluntary and charity organisations with the human and willing resources they need.
However she also acts as MDCVS's Development Officer, and has worked hard to create a relevant and unique database, tailored to local and identified task-specific requirements. MDCVS are happy to offer this resource freely to any organisation or individual wishing to utilize it in order to facilitate a local need or initiative.
Alongside the general volunteer project that Sarah provides, Jan Ward co-ordinates the Supported Volunteering project, which presents options for people to employ otherwise neglected abilities and potential in a voluntary capacity.
Designed for individuals who may benefit from extra support in order to do this, it is proving a valuable means of enabling people with some support needs (such as mental health or learning disabilities) to develop confidence and further vocational skills.
The benefits of structure and wider social interaction then become available for the projects users, sustaining an effective method of decreasing the negative consequences of isolation, whilst practising an equitable inclusivity.
The MDCVS also hosts the More2Life project, which aims to enrich the lives of those with learning disabilities by assisting their efforts to improve their own situation.
The workers, Lynn Marston (Development Officer) and Vicky Cole (Individuals and Families Support Worker), have a person-centred approach towards the complex support needs and possibly challenging behaviours that project members, who live with their families, can present.
Additionally, the project works with local authorities and leisure providers to develop necessary systems and district infrastructure, so that changes can be durable and for the benefit of the community as well as individual.
Headed by Paul Harris, Viking Community Transport is the operating name of the Maldon District Community Transport, a charity status initiative for residents who experience difficulty when travelling.
It aims to assist members to overcome the barriers they encounter when using public or private transport in their right to access services and goods; for practical purposes as well as to improve their social life.
The project has four permanent staff and relies heavily on volunteer drivers to make the service work. Viking operates three minibuses fitted with rear tail lifts and wheelchair adaptability, which are available for member groups to hire.
The Harbour is a weekly and informal, pop-in, friendly chat and refreshment event held in the Octagon of St. Mary’s church in Maldon.
The volunteer team offer support, information and well-being activities for any attending resident or visitor.
With much of its efforts to deliver services in the community, MDCVS also works on behalf of other voluntary organisations with informed purpose county-wide, engaging with a wide range of bodies and platforms.
Comprising part of the multi-partner collaborative Essex Connects, the organisation helps facilitate this valuable free resource. The directory details charity, voluntary and community organizations, and some social enterprises which offer support and activities throughout Braintree, Chelmsford, Colchester and Maldon.
The directory also contains county, regional and national charities whose services incorporate these areas.
For such a small, dedicated team, their seemingly formidable workload is delivered with aptitude and respect; demonstrating levels of competence and commitment that many in the corporate world would envy.
Their effort to secure positive outcomes effectively across not only a wide geographical area but a spectrum of social need, benefits not only any individual user, but the whole social life and structure across rural East Essex.
To find out more about volunteering in Maldon go to: www.maldoncvs.org.uk
Written by Kerry Barr
Essex Connects, www.essexconnects.org.uk