Fund helps launch vital project in Waltham Abbey


A community project set up to support residents in Waltham Abbey is helping those who need it the most.

The Waltham Abbey Financial and Mental Health Wellbeing Project has already helped more than 20 residents since it launched in October last year.

It is part of the work of the One Health and Care Partnership which brings together the NHS, Councils and the voluntary sector to improve health and care services across west Essex.

Project Lead Jenny Skinner, of Citizens Advice Epping Forest District, said: “people are coming to us with a range of issues.

For some, this may be the first time they have reached out for support in a long time and we give them the time to build their confidence and visit as often as they need to ensure they feel comfortable to share their concerns. Our goal is to help resolve problems for the longer term”.

The project is one of many launching as a result of the Contain Outbreak Management Fund (COMF), providing Government funding distributed by Essex County Council to local authorities and the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector (VCSE) to help prevent the spread of Coronavirus and support local public health.

Jenny explains there is a clear link between financial and mental well-being and people can feel there is a stigma to discussing these concerns.

We also know the pandemic has added to these issues in this area.

Citizens Advice Epping Forest District brought together NHS, local voluntary services, local authorities and other partners to develop the initiative and were dedicated to making the project a success. The service includes:

  • The Department of Work and Pensions to offer advice and ongoing support with benefits
  • Citizens Advice Epping Forest District for help with benefits, debt management and housing
  • Epping Forest District Council’s (EFDC) Paula Maginnis and the Develop Me Platform which helps people get back to work or prepare for first time employment
  • Essex Partnership NHS University Trust (EPUT) to offer support and guidance with mental health issues
  • Community Champions from EFDC engaging with the community and offering support to those needing help with IT and digital access

Jenny added: “We are seeing a range of clients with a range of issues, some of whom have not felt able to reach out to formal services for support.

"One client in particular demonstrates the need for an integrated inter-agency approach."

"The client was in a very distressed state when they first came to visit and had difficulty communicating their problems and would never make eye contact.

“Citizens Advice has supported them with their financial issues and the Mental Health Team has been able to organise an ongoing support package. By taking time to build trust and confidence, we have also been able to encourage them to get their first Covid vaccine.

We were even able to organise a Christmas dinner.

“After several visits, they came and thanked everyone and wished us all a Merry Christmas and said they were now looking forward to the New Year.

“Funding is secured until March 2022 and the door is open three Tuesdays a month at the Waltham Abbey leisure centre. If you want to find out more do call in for a cup of tea and an initial chat”.