Josh giving thumbs up beside a table on which several green painted

Newsletter – January 2024

Happy New Year from all at ACE Activities!

We hope that you all had a happy and peaceful Christmas.

  We had a lovely run up to Christmas starting with a successful stall at the Roding Xmas Fair where our upcycling team sold lots of wooden Christmas crafts. We had a fabulous 60/70’s live music night fundraiser raising over £1,000! Thank you to all involved. We followed with a thank-you lunch for the Friends of ACE Activities and then rounded off the year nicely with a Christmas Party for ACE Activities and the Epping Forest Sunflower Group.

We start the New Year full of optimism for ACE Activities but we are realistic about the challenges all charities are facing in these difficult times. In 2023 we continued to balance increased demand for our services with reduced levels of income, but our determination, resilience and creativity saw us through.

We will continue to seek funding, grants and donations from a variety of sources. We’ll also be staging a series of exciting fundraising events. Look out for further announcements soon!

Profile of a Friend – Christine Burgess, Epping Town Mayor

For some people, especially those who need a little extra support, ACE Activities provides a happy, safe environment to develop skills with help from leaders and friends. 

To be able to make friends and learn new life skills at the same time is a true blessing!

When my children were young I volunteered at the old Epping Forest College teaching life skills to young people who needed ‘special care’ (in those days!) and I experienced at first-hand how a little guidance and patience can make a huge difference to individuals.

The staff and volunteers at ACE Activities have immense patience and treat everyone in the classes as worthy individuals, as well as caring for all. 

It is a privilege to support this group and I hope you, dear reader, will consider supporting them in as many ways as possible! 

Why ASDAN is important to our members

We are always looking for ways of adding value to the services we provide. Last year we introduced new qualifications to our Gardening, Cookery and Upcycling projects.

ASDAN (Award Scheme Development and Accreditation Network) is a charity whose declared goal is to engage people with an educational need or disability through relevant and motivating courses to achieve meaningful learning outcomes, which elevate them to go on to further education, training and work, and empower them to take control of their lives”.

What this means for us

The ASDAN accreditation has brought structure and meaningful progression for our members of these projects. We chose a range of courses that were specifically tailored for the individual to make full use of their abilities, helping them to attain new skills or develop a deeper understanding of skills that they have already obtained.

We were absolutely delighted to learn in November that all our members who had undertaken the courses had passed with flying colours!

How we are funded

ACE Activities is a project of local charity Voluntary Action Epping Forest and is independently financed. We are an approved provider for Essex County Council and receive just under a third of our funding from this source.

The remainder needs to be raised from client contributions, fundraising, the sale of goods, small grants and donations. Over the years, in common with many other charities, we have found that our income has shrunk as funders face financial challenges. Many of our services are heavily subsidised and we are constantly looking for ways of raising revenue. If you can help us in any way, please get in touch, or visit our website to donate.

ACE Cooking with Confidence

The newest addition to our varied programme is our Cooking with Confidence course. Guided by an experienced tutor, members cook a healthy two-course lunch that they then enjoy together. They learn a number of skills including budgeting, shopping and cooking.

One member has particularly benefited from the sessions. Kelly joined the ACE Cooking with Confidence group and she set herself the goal of following a weight loss diet.  The ASDAN Healthy Eating Lifeskills Challenge linked to her personal targets helped her understand how to make long-term healthy changes to her diet. Her goal was to maintain a steady weight loss and to ensure that she didn’t put the weight back on again once she stopped dieting. 


1 large butternut squash*, peeled and diced
1 large onion, chopped
1 large potato, peeled and diced
1 large carrot, sliced
1 X 400g (14oz) can of butter beans, drained

1 small bunch of fresh thyme (leaves only) OR 1 teaspoon of dried sage
Chicken or vegetable stock (use stock cubes if you wish)
Small drop of oil
Salt & pepper


1. Add the oil to a large saucepan.  Sauté the onions.  They should be just soft.

2. Add the squash, potato, carrot and herbs to the pan.  Add just enough stock to cover the vegetables. 

3. Bring the soup to the boil.  Turn the heat down.  Place a lid on the saucepan.  Simmer for 25 minutes.

4. Add the drained butter beans.  Continue to simmer for another 5 minutes.

5. Season with salt and pepper. 

6. Blend or liquidize it.  It should be smooth.  If the soup is too thick, add an extra drop of boiling stock. 

*Tip: Put the uncooked squash into the microwave oven for 1 – 2 minutes. Let it cool for a few minutes.  Now it will be easier to peel and chop.

Top sellers for ACE Upcycling

Our Ace Upcycling team have been making a name for themselves by selling a range of good quality products all made from recycled timber. They produce a wide variety of planters, bird boxes and insect hotels that always find a ready market. They also use their imagination to recycle old bits of furniture into items such as coffee tables and children’s toy boxes. Up until November the most popular sellers were our bug hotels that provide much-needed winter homes for insects. 

However as Christmas approached, the guys turned their attention to devising a range of wooden Christmas crafts ready for their stall at the Rotary Xmas Fair and at Abridge Garden Centre. By far the most popular sellers were the wooden Christmas trees. Josh decided to paint his Christmas trees in a bright green paint and these sold out within half an hour of the fair opening!

Josh said:  ” The thing I like most about Ace Upcycling is working as a team and choosing what to make. I like working with my friends and the volunteers Tim and Peter. I think we all work well together. I really like going to the fairs and selling to the public.

Meet our latest volunteer

We were absolutely delighted to welcome our new volunteer Rebecca in October. She spent a week visiting all our different projects to familiarise herself with all aspects of the work of ACE Activities.

Rebecca has chosen to help out with ACE Gardening and assist in promoting and developing the project as she has a marketing and development background.

 ” I am delighted to join the lovely team at ACE Activities! I have thought about volunteering for a while now and ACE Activities stood out for me as it provides opportunities for adults with learning disabilities, something that is already close to my heart. The ACE team are an incredibly positive, warm and welcoming bunch, and they have created a fantastic programme of experiences for their members. The happiness that they bring to members’ day-to-day lives is abundantly clear, as is the sense of achievement from building their skills in a supportive and sociable setting. It is inspiring to see and be part of this!






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