UCAN provides a range of community based services, through the Community Response Hub, Essex Shed Network and the provision of support and guidance for the voluntary sector within Uttlesford.

Each year we support thousands of local residents to access services that they may not otherwise be able to use. Our Community Responders and Social Prescribers undertake community outreach, conducting hundreds of home visits each year, assessing residents needs and putting in place care and support plans delivered in collaboration with partner organisations.

Over the past three years UCAN has been tasked with providing emergency response to crisis situations. The COVID-19 pandemic created an unprecedented situation where existing support networks and infrastructure were no-longer available. Within a matter of days we established the Community Response Hub, providing telephone support for up to 18 hours a day for people needing urgent medicines, food, help in the home and access to banking services. In partnership with Volunteer Uttlesford and Uttlesford District Council, we deployed over 300 volunteers, tackling in excess of 10,000 help requests during the first year of COVID. With our Community Callers group we have provided thousands of hours of telephone befriending calls and welfare checks, hosted virtual socials online, coordinated the distribution of emergency food parcels and organised hospital transport for residents needing ongoing care. Working with Ace Hounds we have provided hundreds of hours of friendship dog visits, helping housebound and isolated people to maintain a sense of belonging to the community, and improving mood and self-esteem.

More recently we have been asked to help with the Afghan and Ukraine emergency situations. In 2021 we coordinated the acquisition, processing and distribution of hundreds of parcels of clothes, toiletries, toys and games for refugees fleeing Afghanistan. Since May 2022 we have been operating the Humanitarian Hub at Stansted Airport. Already over 5,000 Ukrainian refugees have been welcomed to the UK and provided with help and support in reaching a place of safety, accessing medical care, education, counselling and advice on financial aid, benefits, and housing solutions. This work is ongoing.

Through the Essex Shed Network we support the mental health and wellbeing of hundreds of men each year. The programme is delivered in partnership with Maldon and District CVS, creating and developing shed venues throughout the county. These are locations fitted out with tools and equipment where men from all walks of life can be part of a community, maintain their skills and learn more about emotional wellbeing and mental health. The Essex Shed Network builds on the West Essex Sheds programme launched by us in 2017 and we now have over 30 sheds operational across Essex, with more in development.

Together with Volunteer Uttlesford we provide weekly social groups for people living with dementia and their carers. These “Forget Me Not” dementia cafes are free to attend drop in socials with tea, coffee and chat, and provide a forum for carers to provide peer support for one another, while also creating a jovial and sociable atmosphere where people living with dementia can continue to be included within the community, share reminiscence and benefit from advice and support from visiting guest speakers and support agencies. We work closely with Active Uttlesford and the Dementia Action Alliance to provide these opportunities. Funding permitting we also conduct day visits to places of interest.

At a strategic level, the UCAN senior leadership team participates in a wide number of voluntary sector forums, helping to shape local policy and promote the thriving third sector that exists within Uttlesford. We are members of Health and Wellbeing boards, loneliness and isolation forums, the West Essex Integrated Care Board ICS Alliance, and provide trustees and directors for startup organisations and established charities alike. We work in close partnership with Essex Police and Essex Fire and Rescue Service, Uttlesford Community Safety Partnership, Uttlesford District Council, Volunteer Uttlesford and both the North and South Uttlesford Primary Care Networks. We have recently been commissioned to deliver a pilot “Home from Hospital” scheme based at Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow. The UCAN “West Essex Help” Team of staff and volunteers, led by our Community Responders has already been able to improve discharge times, freeing up hospital beds post-operation by providing home readiness, adaptations, welfare checks and ongoing support to effect safer discharge from hospital, and reduce the incidence of readmission. This work forms part of a wider programme to enable Uttlesford, Harlow and Epping Forest residents to maintain their independence, living in their own homes for longer and is underpinned by our Population Health Management strategy.

Our Impact in Numbers

Each year we produce an annual review highlighting our quantitative and qualitative impact on the lives of the people of Uttlesford. You can download our recent Annual Review documents below. Hard copy versions can be suppled on request by emailing connect@ucan.org.uk