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Charities Aid Foundation

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Colchester philanthropist supports charities in tackling local challenges

When you put time, energy, and not just money into a project, you can achieve great things.

Our client Colin Bennett is carrying out this vision by supporting local charities in his home town of Colchester and providing expertise, guidance and financial assistance at a time of great pressure on government funding.

Colin set up his CAF Charitable Trust 20 years ago, and after retiring in 2013, has worked tirelessly to identify, listen to, and help charities in need.

Speaking about his work with local charities, he said: “I visit the places I support regularly, I get involved and I get such a buzz out of seeing how far they’ve come.”

Colin’s work in the community started when he joined his local Rotary Club.  

As he was coming into retirement, he got more involved and could see that there were charities in the area that were struggling to stay afloat.

He said: “It was a few years after the financial crisis, so one of the things on my mind was how services were struggling as a result of council revenues being under pressure. 

“At the Rotary Club, we realised that the older community needed help. I spoke to the local council who said they often refer people to Age Concern Colchester.

“But as it turns out, the charity was facing additional pressure because an old people’s club in the area was having to shut due to budget cuts. I thought if there’s ever a charity that needs help this is it.”

After doing his research and building a relationship with the charity, Colin bought new premises from which Age Concern could operate and used his CAF Charity Trust to fund a new CEO and other members of staff.

Colin continues to support the charity through strategic planning and funding to help the charity get back on its feet.

He added: “I know the council is strapped for cash, I’m just grateful I’m able to bridge that void.”

Shared lunch
A group of service users at Beacon House

He is also involved in projects with Beacon House, a local homelessness charity.

Since becoming a trustee, he has provided guidance and helped transform the organisation’s supply of move on accommodation for the homeless which was, and still is, much needed after a local homelessness  charity providing accommodation went into administration.

Using his CAF trust, Colin purchased a house as a pilot scheme for the charity, which successfully accommodated four homeless people for a year.

He then did the same with further two houses  and is now financing plans to develop nine flats for Beacon House beneficiaries - as a result, some 21 people will be using the accommodation as a platform to move on to long-term housing.

Before this, Colin pledged £1 million from his CAF Trust to match fund an appeal for a new cancer centre at his local hospital.

The appeal was losing momentum and Colin’s idea to match fund for a 12-month period helped push it along, with the appeal securing £3.25miillon as a result.

He said: “The new facility will be more welcoming. Dealing with cancer is such a hard and stressful time, and having an improved facility can make a real difference. Imagine the impact that will have on the patients and their families.”

Colin continues to carry out amazing work for the community, even setting up a new grant making charity using a portion of his CAF trust.

FACTS

Homelessness:

510 people in Colchester are homeless

20 people are sleeping rough on the street

490 people are in temporary accommodation

1 in 323 are homeless in Colchester

Colchester's elderly community:

32,640 people are aged over 65 in Colchester, accounting for 17% of the population

Essex already has a higher older population than the national average. Older people with care needs are projected to increase by 63% over the next 20 years to a potential 131,200 older people in need of social care and support.

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