An Epping Forest charity is holding a special community picnic on Friday to thank all volunteers, staff, trustees and their families for their efforts during the pandemic at the Grange Farm Centre in Chigwell.

The picnic has been planned to thank Voluntary Action Epping Forest staff and its volunteers for their amazing contribution to the Epping Forest district throughout since the first lockdown.

Invitations to the picnic were sent to the nearly 150 VAEF volunteers during National Volunteers Week at the start of June.

The picnic will take place from 12pm to 4pm and guests will be encouraged to meet and socialise with other staff members and volunteers and enjoy the spectacular grounds of Grange Farm. VAEF and the NHS will provide desserts for all guests.

Jacqui Foile, from Voluntary Action Epping Forest, said: “Our volunteers have ensured the safety and wellbeing of thousands of people in our community during the Covid-19 pandemic. We really want to mark our appreciation for their incredible work and help, so thank you, our amazing volunteers!

"All of us at VAEF look forward to seeing you at the community picnic on July 30 to thank you in person."

VAEF volunteers have been crucial to the charity during the pandemic, helping vulnerable residents throughout Epping Forest, as well as stewarding at the vaccination clinics at Buckhurst Way and St Margaret's Hospital.

They provided 3,528 volunteer hours at the two vaccination sites, delivered 16,833 lots of shopping and 2,679 prescriptions to shielding families and individuals.

Volunteers also made more than 11,000 wellbeing calls to vulnerable individuals to ensure they were not isolated during the various lockdowns.