The power of partnerships to support our local community

Working with local partners we are committed to building a thriving Elmbridge community.

Walsingham Care is a small charity focused on reducing social isolation and loneliness among older people in Elmbridge. Working together, we provide grants for older people facing financial hardship, and jointly fund projects that support older people and their families - from respite breaks for unpaid carers, to equipment and home adaptations that make life easier and more comfortable.

For Debbie Beach, Manager at Walsingham Care, working in partnership enables them to reach more local people:

We work collaboratively with Walton Charity on some of our projects and very much value this cooperation and the assistance we receive to provide support to hundreds of local residents. This help has been particularly vital over the past few years which have be so difficult for so many.

“Walsingham Care is based at Charities House in Walton on Thames. The low-cost office space provided by Walton Charity allows us to spend more of our funds supporting local residents and working to alleviate social isolation and loneliness.”

Earlier this year we launched the Partnership Fund 2022 with Walsingham Care and Elmbridge Borough Council to support local organisations tackling isolation and loneliness in our local community.

The fund, which closes on Friday 16 September, supports projects that encourage social interaction, reduce loneliness and help people feel more connected to their community. We hope to run the fund again next year so keep an eye on our website for more information in Spring/Summer 2023.

Janette ButlerComment
Fundraising support brings CHEER to local charity

With help from Central Surrey Voluntary Action’s (CSVA) Funding and Sustainability Advisor, Beverly Mann, local charity CHEER was able to find the funding they needed to ensure the survival of a local Parkinson’s support group.

As Funding and Sustainability Advisor - a post jointly funded by Walton Charity and Elmbridge Borough Council – Beverly's role is to help voluntary and community sector organisations in Elmbridge with fundraising applications, business plans and other fundraising guidance.

The local Parkinson’s group, run by CHEER, provides vital support to those with Parkinson’s and their carers. The group is independent of Parkinson’s UK and without more funding, its future was under threat. Support from CSVA helped CHEER to prepare and submit successful applications for nearly £65,000 of grant funding, which included grants for CHEER’s projects aimed at connecting people and grants for the Parkinson’s Group.

Participants in this image are taking part in chair based exercises

Janis Fletcher, Trustee of CHEER, says “CHEER is a small charity, and we rely on part-time staff and volunteers (including trustees). Beverly has been a great help to us. Her support and advice, the funding surgeries she has organised, and the monthly funding newsletters have all helped to improve our fundraising knowledge and skills.

“We are delighted that the grants we have been awarded will help CHEER to make a difference to the lives of older people in Elmbridge and to continue our vital work to improve their health and wellbeing. Our befriending and social events services, help and advice with benefits claims, the CHEER Parkinson’s Group, as well as our “connections” projects will reduce loneliness and isolation, alleviate financial hardship and support older people to live happy and fulfilling lives in their own homes.”

If you are working for a local Elmbridge voluntary organisation and would like advice or support with a funding application, please contact Beverly Mann -

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Walton Charity and Waitrose 'Give a Little Love'

A small community grant, awarded to Weybridge International School of English (WISE), is helping to fund English language lessons during the summer holidays for Ukranian refugees, living locally.

WISE has registered over 80 Ukrainian’s over the last few months and has provided classes for all levels of English.

The participants, which include parents and their children, are not only benefitting from having face-to-face English classes to improve their English and prospects of employment, but it is also providing them with the opportunity to come together and meet other refugees within a warm and welcoming atmosphere.

Liz Denham, MD said “The commitment to the classes has been tremendous and their English has come on superbly. Our dedicated team of teachers and volunteers have enjoyed teaching them and we are extremely grateful for the grant given to us.”

Funding from Waitrose Hersham’s ‘Give a Little Love’ campaign is helping to fund food and refreshments being offered during the course.

Janette ButlerComment
Fun and friendship at the Elmbridge Community Link café
I really am very happy to be part of this group. It gets me out of my flat which is good for me.

A weekly befriending café, organised by Elmbridge Community Link (ECL), brings together adults with learning disabilities and/or on the autistic spectrum to spend time with friends and learn new skills.

A report by the Jo Cox Foundation showed that half of people with disabilities feel lonely on any given day. Regular contact with their peers, volunteers and support staff at the befriending café gives participants an opportunity to build relationships and grow their independence in a safe and friendly space.

The café takes place at Burview Hall in Walton, one of Walton Charity’s community buildings. During the Covid lockdowns, when face-to-face meetings weren’t possible, ECL had to find new ways to keep in touch with members and bring the group together. Online activities, quizzes and exercise classes all helped members feel connected until they could meet again in person.

Technology still plays an important role in the café sessions as participants are supported to make video calls, keeping in touch with family members they don't see on a regular basis.

The befriending café is just one of the activities run by Elmbridge Community Link. Participants can also take part in weekly art and craft workshops, a youth sports club and sessions at Walton Charity’s community allotment. The participants, and volunteers who support the sessions, love the atmosphere of the groups, and families really see the difference the sessions are making:

My daughter is spending time with people her own age… she’s getting out and about doing things out of the house, being active, meeting new people, getting new experiences. It’s brilliant but the big thing is that Georgia is doing something herself.

Tackling isolation and loneliness is one of Walton Charity’s five key priorities. Through our grants programme and our community buildings, we support local organisations and projects that encourage social interaction and help people feel more connected to their community.

Janette ButlerComment
Top prize for a top team!

~ Video courtesy of Jennifer Bruce Photography ~

Volunteers from Walton Charity’s Community Allotment were thrilled to scoop first prize in the Community Allotment category at Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival earlier this month.

Our Green Spaces Manager, Karen Heynike, garden designer Victoria Mitchell, and the team of volunteers rolled up their sleeves and worked incredibly hard to create a mini replica of their allotment, complete with knitted bugs, butterflies and vegetables – replicating the yarn bombing* that created a real buzz at the real community allotment earlier this year.

The community allotment, in Walton on Thames, is a special place where people from all walks of life come together to socialise and learn new skills. Some of the participants are retired, but many face barriers because of mental or physical health conditions or social isolation. The allotment provides a supportive space for people to join in group activities and feel more connected to their community and it provided a lifeline for many of the volunteers during the pandemic.

This isn’t the first time the Community Allotment volunteers have entered the Garden Festival. They entered the Vegetable Box category back in 2017 winning them a silver medal, giving a huge confidence boost to those who took part.

If you would like to learn more about our community allotment and availability of our land and green spaces for local people and community groups, click here:

*A yarn bomb is a form of street art where yarn in any form decorates an object in the public environment. Yarn installations are a bit like graffiti but aren’t permanent or destructive. The craze was started in America by a lady named Magda Sayeg when she covered her doorknob with a knitted cosy and before long started knitting scarves and hats for statues around her hometown in Houston.

Janette ButlerComment
Celebrating 30 years at Terrace Road allotments

In 1983, Lynda moved to Walton on Thames from Doncaster with her husband and often walked past Walton Charity’s allotments on Terrace Road.

“One day when I was passing, I stopped to talk to someone working on the allotment and asked about taking on a plot myself. There weren’t many women who had their own plot back then and when I signed the paperwork, the person I spoke to thought it was for my husband!”

“The plot was very overgrown when I got it and it took me a year and ten days to clear it from weeds! But it was worth the effort, over the 30 years I’ve had the plot I have been able to plant all sorts of fruit, vegetables and flowers. The plot is divided into eight triangles and I often get compliments on the unique design. It enables me to work on it even when it’s wet as I can access the different sections from the pathway that divides them.”

“I love having flowers in the house and one triangle is used just for growing flowers which I can pick most of the year. The bees love it too!”

Inspired by Gardeners’ World presenter Geoff Hamilton, an early champion of organic gardening, Lynda’s allotment has been organic for more than 20 years.

She is pleased to see more families spending time at the allotment now and thinks it’s an important way for children to learn more about food and where it comes from. Lynda’s own family have been involved over the years and a photo of her grandson with his feet in an old sink by the allotment tap won a local photography competition back in 2008.

“If someone asked me if they should take on an allotment, I would say go for it! It gives me such a lot of pleasure. I like the creativity. It’s your plot to do what you want with it. It’s really satisfying. I love it!”

Janette ButlerComment
We talk to the new volunteer coordinator at Elmbridge CAN

Elmbridge CAN is a small charity supporting the resettlement of refugees and building a culture of welcome within the communities of Elmbridge.

Due to a recent increase in demand for their services, the charity’s core team of volunteers were keen to get support with the day-to-day administration tasks. Our community grant will fund Sarah’s post as a volunteer coordinator for the first year. We talked to Sarah about her new role.

Q. Tell us about a typical day in your role?

I start each day by checking the various emails for new enquiries, volunteers or requests for help. I carry out the basic checks for all new volunteers, making sure that all data is looked after safely, and information updated. I also coordinate volunteer availability for our digital classes for Afghan women living in the hotel, many of whom had not used a computer before arriving here. I coordinate the furnishing for new accommodation, doing all we can as a community to make their new homes comfortable and welcoming. Where I can, I go to our newly set up hubs so I can support the volunteers and hub leaders and meet some of the people we are supporting. I also prepare newsletters for volunteers and supporters and arrange training. It’s very varied!

Q. How many people do Elmbridge CAN currently support?

We are supporting about 220 Afghans who have been in temporary hotel accommodation for several months, in addition to supporting 25 other families with refugee backgrounds in the community who are from all over the globe.

Q. Are you currently helping any Ukrainian refugees?

We have two full-time Ukrainian-speaking support workers who support approximately 500 Ukrainian refugees here in Elmbridge. These posts are funded by Elmbridge Borough Council. Our fantastic volunteers very quickly set up four regular local hubs to support these refugees and they provide a warm welcome, refreshments, and practical help with matters such as understanding paperwork and job searching.

Q. What are the biggest challenges facing families settling in a new area?

There are many challenges. Language limitations are often one of the biggest issues – speaking good English is key to so much. Cultural differences need to be navigated, and there is a lot of loss, anxiety, and uncertainty to deal with. We try to support emotionally as well as practically, but in a way that keeps to appropriate boundaries.

Q. What sort of ongoing support do you offer?

We offer help with small grants, job searching, navigation of systems and paperwork, one-to-one English language tuition and homework help for children, social activities to help with integration, provision of bikes to help with independence and mobility, and much more.

Q. What is your favourite part of the job?

Seeing settled families thriving is a joy. When we’ve got a new flat assigned to a family, we don’t get long to get it ready for them, and things can get very hectic gathering the furniture and other welcome items together. I like it when I can see the flat becoming a home, knowing that the family will be happy there. It’s a good feeling!

Q. What can our local community do to help?

We do our work by harnessing the skills, talents, and generosity of the local community – and in Elmbridge, there is a lot of all of these! We are always looking for volunteers – now we particularly need someone to help us with our website and people who are happy to help look after small children at the Afghan hotel on Monday and Friday mornings in term time. Financial donations are always very helpful – for example we recently gave some money to a Ukrainian mother with a disabled son so that they could afford disability-friendly travel from their host’s house to local activities which has resulted in them no longer feeling isolated.

Helping with housing needs is always our biggest challenge and everyone can help by spreading the word about the need for affordable rental property of all sizes – there is more information on our website.

Finally, everyone can help by reading up on the ‘bigger picture’ situation regarding refugee-related matters – there is a lot happening nationally, and much of it concerns us greatly.

We would love more people from our local community to get in touch and help. Click here to find out more: Get Involved - Elmbridge CAN refugee volunteer support

Janette ButlerComment
A new bursary fund offers subsidised counselling for Elmbridge residents

A new community grant of £5,000, awarded to The Counselling Partnership (TCP), will fund one-to-one counselling sessions for some of the most vulnerable residents in Elmbridge.

TCP is a local charity offering professional, affordable counselling. To cover the costs of each counselling session, TCP usually ask for a minimum donation of £25. However, this is a cost many people on low incomes struggle to afford. The new bursary fund will ensure that finances aren’t a barrier for anyone to access the counselling services.

Since the start of the pandemic, TCP has seen an increase in the number of referrals for people who have been unable to receive counselling through the NHS. To meet this growing demand and keep their waiting lists to a minimum, the charity has recently recruited another six volunteer counsellors.

Terri Collins, Chair of TCP says, “We cannot thank Walton Charity enough for supporting our Bursary Fund. The grant will mean that we can help subsidise counselling for people who are in real need of a talking therapy, but who are already making so many difficult choices as to how they spend their limited budget. Putting oneself first is always a difficult choice, and we hope that this grant will help us help those who are struggling with mental health issues, within the Elmbridge Community, to come forward for help”.

Janette ButlerComment
Looking for an affordable community building?

One of our community buildings in Hersham will be available to rent from September next year.

We are looking for a not-for-profit organisation who would use the premises to deliver impactful services for local people in Elmbridge. The community building will be available from September 2023 at a substantially discounted or ‘peppercorn’ rent.

Working with local partners, Walton Charity is committed to tackling the causes and symptoms of poverty here in Elmbridge. We enable and facilitate other charities to deliver services that meet the needs of our local community. One of the ways we do this is to provide affordable office space, housing, land and operational buildings.  

Our aspiration is that the building and site is maximised for social value, aligning with Walton Charity’s mission and vision, our 5 year-plan and, in particular, our focus on tackling child poverty in Elmbridge.

To find out more or for an informal discussion please contact Jackie Lodge, Chief Executive,

Janette ButlerComment
Half-term book hunt hailed a success
We absolutely loved the book hunt this week, it was a brilliant idea!

A big thank you to everyone who took part in the Great Elmbridge Book Hunt over half term!

Local primary school children from across Elmbridge had the chance to win one of 100 books hidden around the borough, plus a bonus chance to win £200 of books for their school!

We believe that books are a great way to learn about the world around us and make sense of issues and challenges that can affect us all. For the book hunt, we chose 100 well-loved titles suitable for children that focus on the five key issues Walton Charity is committed to tackling here in Elmbridge:

Working with our partners and our local community, we are committed to tackling these important issues to make Elmbridge a place where everyone has the opportunity to thrive.

The winner of the £200 school book prize was Manby Lodge School, Weybridge.

Follow us on Facebook @YourWaltonCharity

Janette ButlerComment
Royal celebrations at our community allotment

Our community allotment turned red, white and blue this week in honour of the Queen’s Jubilee.

Volunteers came together to make their own jubilee-themed planters, led by local floral designer Emma from Wild Alice, and all under the watchful eye of our own (handcrafted) Queen!

Not even the rain dampened spirits, as the keen gardeners ‘kept calm and carried on’ with their colourful creations.


The Jubilee theme continues throughout the allotment with bunting, decorated planters, and a huge pop-pom Union Jack and crown created by volunteers and supporters of Walton Charity.

The community allotment is a place for people of all walks of life to come together, socialise and learn new skills. It has gone from strength to strength in recent years and was a lifeline for many of the volunteers during the pandemic. They are now enjoying being back together face-to-face and are excited by the prospect of taking part in the world-famous Hampton Court Flower Show later this summer, where they will exhibit a mini replica of the allotment.

Janette ButlerComment
Meet Sarah, our new Chair
The passion feeds me completely and powers me to have the energy to do it

Q. Why did you decide to take on the role of Chair of Trustees?
My first meeting as a volunteer trustee was in May last year and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The charity is 815 years old and what a privilege it is to be part of this unique charity. I had always planned to explore the idea of being a Chair nearer retirement age, but this opportunity came up and I felt that I could add so much more right now.

Q. What experience do you bring to Walton Charity?
During my 26 years of working as a nurse with children and adults with learning disabilities and mental health issues, I have built a network of links within the voluntary, health and social care sectors. Becoming Chair of a local charity is an opportunity to make these connections more meaningful.

Walton Charity is committed to tackling poverty and inequality and, within my work, I see the realities of these every day. I just felt there was so much more I could do. My focus tends to be on interactions with people when they are unwell but what really interests me is how do you help people to stay healthy and remain independent.

Each trustee is chosen for their skill sets – mine being health – the other trustees bring their own unique skills.

Q. How do you find the time with such a busy day job?
Sometimes opportunities come up when it is not the ideal time. There is an argument to say that I am probably in the busiest day job that I’ve ever had, but I think you find the time for things that you feel really passionate about.

Q. What do you think you’ll do differently now you are Chair?
I think the main difference is going to be that I will immerse myself much more regularly in the work of the charity. Already I am a member of the Grants Committee, and I will obviously join all the committees, to have an oversight.

I will also be supporting Jackie Lodge, the charity’s Chief Executive, leading the charity and helping to set the direction for the next three years.

I wanted something that was good for the soul but would stretch me and make me build relationships and networks with totally different people. There are also lots of different elements to the charity - from property to finance and grant giving. Some of it is familiar but some of it is like a totally different language to me!

Q. Why do you feel mental health is such an important issue to focus on?
My view is that everybody has mental health challenges but for some they become overwhelming at times. I have both personal experience and professional experience of working with children and young people particularly around emotional wellness and resilience.

Sometimes the most resilient, strong, healthy people can find themselves in difficult circumstances that are beyond their control and can tip them over the edge.

As a community we have got the opportunity to come together, just to make that journey a little easier for people.

Any final thoughts?
I recognise that I am just one person but when I connect to twenty or thirty other people working at Walton Charity, suddenly we become really powerful. A great example of this is the foodbank that I visited early on in my trusteeship. Seeing people who work there and those that come in, the chat and the laughter and the connection people get is often as important as the bag of food that they take home. It is just so powerful and I think that, without being connected with the charity, I would never have seen that.

Janette ButlerComment