Kat Pulford Community Manager at St Elizabeth’s CentreThis month’s blog comes from Kat Pulford, Community Manager at St Elizabeth’s Centre in Much Hadham, who employ over 650 people – half of whom are living in Harlow.

St Elizabeth’s is a national charity founded in 1903 supporting around 200 children and adults of all ages with epilepsy and other complex medical conditions.

Over the past 117 years, St Elizabeth’s has grown and developed and it now offers:

  • non-maintained special school for both boarders and day students
  • a specialist further education college
  • domiciliary care for college learners
  • residential care with nursing for 102 adults across 12 purpose-built bungalows
  • a comprehensive day opportunities programme for residents and day clients
  • 24 hour health provision provided by specialist nurses and therapists

The charity was previously one of the charitable works of the Congregation of the Daughters of the Cross of Liège, however in 2018, St Elizabeth’s Centre became a charity in its own right.

St Elizabeth's Centre aerial photo

Why am I telling you about a charity based in Hertfordshire I hear you ask? St Elizabeth’s is in fact a big part of the wider community, and already has a growing presence in Harlow and beyond.

Did you know that here at St Elizabeth’s, we employ over 650 people, half of whom are living in Harlow? It makes us one of the largest employers in Hertfordshire!

As part of our growing community presence, we have 9 charity shops across Essex and Hertfordshire, with 2 very successful charity shops right here in Harlow (Staple Tye and Bush Fair). These shops are a very big part of the Harlow community, offering employment and volunteering opportunities, as well as regular community support delivered in part by our wonderful volunteers.

Child playing at St Elizabeth’s Centre

As part of our community engagement, a number of our adult residents and day clients have been volunteering at the CanalAbility charity in Harlow, offering light gardening and maintaining services, as well as keeping their water edge gardens tidy. A number of our adult residents also volunteer and help with similar tasks at the Leah Manning Centre gardens in Harlow Town Park.

There are a number of ways in which the Harlow community can continue to work closely with us. During the summer months, we offer corporate volunteering days whereby both local and further afield companies can come onto site and help with general maintenance and gardening tasks, acting as a fantastic team-building opportunity, and work towards your CSR business goals. So far, we have had over 500 local business volunteer with us as part of our corporate engagement programme, and we are always looking for more!

We also host a number of community events throughout the year here at the centre, with many volunteering and sponsorship opportunities available to individuals and local businesses.

Child being supported by staff at St Elizabeth’s Centre

As you can imagine, like other charities the current circumstances have made our work more important than ever, and we are having to work even harder to ensure the safety, wellbeing and happiness of our service users, who are particularly vulnerable to the virus. Our staff are doing an incredible job to limit the impact that the virus and lockdown is having on them all, and I know they are so touched to see the support that is coming from so many people during this time.

The increased expenditure on staffing, resources and PPE equipment, combined with reduced fundraising income from our charity shops and community events, means that we have faced a loss of nearly £1.2million.

We have been overwhelmed by the support and response to our urgent fundraising appeal, and we have made it through only with the continued support of everyone in our local community. There are a number of ways you could support us, all of which can be found on our appeals page

As Community Manager, I would love to come and talk to you further about the fantastic work that goes on here at St Elizabeth’s Centre, and how you can support us. If you would like to get involved, please email me at Kat.Pulford@stelizabeths.org.uk or call me on 01279 844347.