ESSEX girls have come up smiling in the ongoing struggle against their negative stereotype.

A light-hearted book called Essex Girls’ Limericks is proving females of all ages in the County can take a joke – and even have the last laugh – as the book will raise money for a special fund supporting women’s charities in Essex.

Essex Girls' Limericks

The endowed Essex Women and Girls Fund was established with the local grant making charitable trust, Essex Community Foundation (ECF) in 2010 by the Essex Women’s Advisory Group (EWAG). This aims to support the well-being of women and girls by giving grants year on year to voluntary and community organisations in Essex working to tackle issues such as domestic violence, education and skills and mental health. EWAG also wants to improve the self-esteem and image of Essex girls and promote the exchange and distribution of ideas.

Daphne Field, vice-chairman of EWAG said “The Essex Girls’ Limericks book is an affectionate tribute to the women and girls of the County who, despite the image so often portrayed, are very bright and talented.

“We are delighted the book, which is the second of its kind published by EWAG, will raise money for the fund to help organisations supporting women across the County.

“There is a serious side to the general ‘Essex Girls’ image, as the stereotyping of women and girls living in Essex has led many to feel “disadvantaged and disenfranchised”, but we hope the book of Limericks will help prove that Essex girls, despite being the target of many unjustified jokes, have managed to retain a sense of humour“.

EWAG chairman, George Courtauld said “Most Essex females are indifferent to this stereotype, but an understandable proportion is not. As High Sheriff I toured the whole County during my year and was surprised at how often this subject was raised. Ten per cent of the County’s population commutes to London and there, in the City particularly, our Essex girls found their treatment ranging in nastiness, from the merely exasperating, through the hurtful, to the bullying and frightening. Fortunately, this situation is gradually improving.”

“Later, as chairman of the Haven Gateway Partnership I found at least three examples when new businesses we were encouraging to move into the area, chose elsewhere instead, because the women involved, either managers or wives, did not want to live in Essex and become ‘Essex Girls’.”

Caroline Taylor, programmes director from ECF said: “The Essex Women and Girls’ Fund provides much needed support for Essex-based female charities and helps Essex women and girls to be successful in business, taking advantage of County, national and EU initiatives in aid of women. It also promotes Essex as a place to live, visit or work.

“EWAG is addressing the needs of Essex women and girls by giving them pride in themselves and their County and helping to teach and train them in commerce, the arts and sports.”

Events are regularly organised by EWAG to raise awareness and to help build up the endowed fund to increase the amount of grants available to support local voluntary organisations. Ideas for the future include developing with partners an advice service through the internet.

EWAG’s Board includes representatives from the police, the University of Essex , commerce, philanthropy, mental health, local government, the WI and Girlguiding. Grants have already been given to Safer Places; the Rape and Crisis Centre; the Prince’s Trust for Development Awards for females in Essex; Home Start; the Wilderness Foundation and to fund Girlguiding activities.

Essex poet Martin Newell is among those who wrote limericks for the book and illustrations were created by volunteers, including students from Essex schools.

The Essex Girls’ Limericks book costs £3 and is available from Waterstones, through Amazon and on line from www.essexwomensadvisorygroup.com 

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