Voluntary organisations that work to make their communities safer and better places to live have been recognised at this year’s prestigious High Sheriffs’ Awards. Around 180 guests attended this year’s ceremony held at Hylands House in Chelmsford where trophies, certificates and grants totalling £33,000 were presented by the outgoing High Sheriff of Essex, Dr James Bettley. 

The grants came from the High Sheriffs’ Fund, which was established to give credit to community initiatives that address crime, community safety and anti-social behaviour, and is managed by the independent charitable trust Essex Community Foundation (ECF).

James Bettley, the 839th High Sheriff of Essex, has travelled to all areas of the county during his year of office.  As well as meeting many voluntary organisations, he visited the Courts and spent time with Essex Police and Essex County Fire and Rescue Service. 

James said, “It has been a huge privilege to undertake this role and a real pleasure to have met so many people doing such good and interesting things.”

“The Awards ceremony provides the opportunity to celebrate the enormous amount of important work that is being done, covering a very wide range of issues, including hate crime, homelessness, addiction to alcohol and drugs, reoffending, knife crime, the racism directed at Travellers, and the various challenges faced by refugees and migrants.”

Since it came under ECF’s management in 1997 the High Sheriffs’ Fund has distributed grants totalling over half a million pounds to voluntary and community organisations.

Alongside the grants, five awards were presented to the following organisations:

  • Safer Places received the High Sheriff Shield to recognise their effective and compassionate work with survivors of domestic abuse.
  • Inclusion Ventures received the Essex County Fire & Rescue Service Shield for their work helping to improve the lives of young people living in Jaywick and Clacton.
  • Wilderness Foundation received the Essex County Council Bowl for their continuing and successful ‘TurnAround programme’ which engages young people, helping them make positive changes in their lives.
  • Teen Talk Harwich received the High Sheriff Cup to commend their long-standing support for young people in Harwich and the surrounding area.
  • North Avenue Youth Centre received the Essex Police Cup to acknowledge their long-standing support for young people living on the Melbourne Estate, in Chelmsford.

Rachel Millar, from Safer Places said "We are both thrilled and humbled to receive this award. Our teams work alongside those who have experienced abuse, to empower them to achieve things they might once have thought of as impossible."

Caroline Taylor, Chief Executive of ECF, said, “We are so pleased to manage the High Sheriffs’ Fund, working with successive High Sheriffs’ to support the local charities and voluntary groups whose work contributes to community safety in Essex.”

In addition to the grants awarded from the High Sheriffs’ Fund, ECF was able to leverage a further £57,000 from other funds under its management.