Staff Team

Our staff team operates across three locations – Uttlesford, Harlow and Epping Forest, hosted by the CVS partner in that area. We deliver a broad range of community cohesion and inclusion projects, ranging from United in Kind through to digital innovation work with minority groups.

United in Kind Coaches

Christine Chester – Uttlesford United in Kind Coach

Christine has lived in Uttlesford for over 40 years, moving from Hull when she was a child. She worked in London for a time but missed the lovely countryside and the community of Uttlesford. She has worked in a large variety of roles as a Youth & Community worker for 30 years most recently as a Community Builder for Council for Voluntary Services(CVSU).

She has lots of experience around learning disabilities, unpaid caring and more recently, the older population of Uttlesford. Makaton signing to songs is one of her hobbies. She lists one of her main skill as ‘problem-solving’. Her aim in life is to empower people to live their best life possible by providing support, information and knowledge on all things to do with Wellbeing and living well.

Sarah Ayling – Harlow United in Kind Coach

Sarah joined the team in 2019, where she brought her experience of working with the local community of Harlow; it’s accessibility, support networks and social activities. Along with her passion of helping others, she prides herself in her role of connecting the most vulnerable and raising awareness of loneliness and isolation.

Ayesha Lawrence – Epping Forest United in Kind Coach

Ayesha Lawrence joined WECAN at the outset, as a United In Kind Coach, back in 2019. Prior to that, Ayesha had worked with families across West Essex for over 8 years in different roles.

Ayesha grew up in Uttlesford and lives in Harlow. A mother, with two young children, Ayesha works across many different community groups, mainly based in Epping Forest.

Ayesha enjoys getting out and travelling; both across communities in West Essex while working for WECAN… and further afield, in her own time.

Nick Robinson – United in Kind Radio

Nick Robinson has worked across West Essex, and primarily Epping Forest local communities for over 20 years. As Young Persons’ Officer at Epping Forest District Council, Nick set up Epping Forest Youth Council, in 2007. He went on to set up and run Loughton Youth Project (LYP), a dedicated young persons’ charity and radio station, for 12 years.

Nick joined VAEF in 2017, firstly as a music practitioner with the ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’ music project, and then as a ‘Digital Buddy Project’ local co-ordinator, as part of a wider WECAN digital pilot initiative.

Nick’s passions for music, radio, digital and community saw him set up the United In Kind Radio platform, run by WECAN to help reduce loneliness and social isolation and signpost listeners to local community services. Nick also leads the WECAN Mental Health Discharge Service, which provides community intervention support to those in West Essex leaving mental health inpatient care, or at risk of admission.

Digital Buddies / Digital Share Project

Ali Firth – Digital Innovation Project Coordinator

I am the Digital Lead for a new Digital Inclusion Project for WECAN, named Digital Share.  I am passionate about supporting vulnerable adults in West Essex who have suffered through COVID and have been found themselves excluded digitally and need help, guidance and support.  I have worked for the voluntary sector for the past 16 years and very much look forward to supporting the West Essex Community and helping individuals to become digitally included and enhance their health & wellbeing.  

Living Smart Homes

Louise Gambardella – Living Smart Homes Coordinator

Louise joined WECAN as the Project Coordinator for the Living Smart Homes Project in August 2021. Before taking this post, she worked at The Essex Association of Local Councils for 4 years as their Grants Administrator and before that within the NHS and Investment Banking Sector.

TEC Mates

Sophie Davis – TEC Mates Project Coordinator

Sophie joined the team in November 2021 as Project Co-Ordinator for the TEC Mates project, which aims to support the use and uptake of digital technology by engaging with volunteers who themselves provide support to those who need it.  The role is varied, ranging from networking with corporate organisations, local authorities, voluntary sector organisations and charities and support groups to raising awareness of the project through social media and marketing campaigns.

Since Covid, Sophie has also been supporting her local vaccination programme, both behind the scenes and on the vaccination days themselves.

James Pennington – TEC Mates Technology Advisor

am taking a break from education before I go on to university. As part of my role with TEC Mates, I will be hosting virtual presentations on various technology related topics and offering one-to-one support for TEC Learners that want to know more. For the past 2 years, I have been helping the local community with their technology as part of weekly drop in sessions. I was able to see first-hand the benefits that technology can bring to peoples’ lives, from being able to keep in touch with others using email or FaceTime to browsing the web to find information. These skills have become an essential part of our lives and, with more things moving online, it is becoming even more vital to increase digital confidence. That’s why I’m excited to share my passion for technology with others and unlock the range of possibilities it can bring. 

Back Office Team

Core WECAN functions are divided among the partner CVS organisations:

  • HR & Payroll – Jacqui Davies, CVS Uttlesford
  • Communications – Richard Corby, CVS Uttlesford
  • Financial Admin – Michael Tang, Voluntary Action Epping Forest