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Essex’s pandemic experiences revealed in Eastlight exhibition

A unique exhibition where Essex residents reveal their pandemic experiences and hopes for their community has been unveiled at Eastlight House.

99 Voices features interviews with local people filmed visiting an ice cream van sent by Eastlight Community Homes around Braintree, Colchester and Tendring districts in August and September 2021.

The video interviews and a replica of the van are now on display in the entrance of Eastlight’s headquarters in Braintree.

Witham MP and Home Secretary Priti Patel became one of the first to experience the exhibition during a recent visit.

The ice cream van tour launched All In, Eastlight’s major new community programme to unite local people to tackle the big social issues that affect them.

To find out what these issues are and how people feel about their community, the team handed out free ice creams and spoke to local people in Braintree, Colchester, Clacton, Halstead, Witham, Dedham, Silver End and Sible Hedingham. The findings will help identify the big issues local people will tackle through All In.

James Green, Eastlight’s Community Investment Director, said: “Thank you to everyone who spoke to us so candidly about their pandemic experiences and their hopes for the future.

“I was struck by everyone’s openness and generosity, their love for their communities and their knowledge of what would make them even better.

“The tour is just one way that our communities will shape and build All In. We are now writing to every Eastlight customer inviting them to have a meaningful conversation with us about what they would like to achieve for their community.

“We would also love to hear your views about your community and any changes you’d like to introduce, so please get in touch.”

A group of local residents have begun building All In’s academy, which will provide tools and training for anyone who wants change in our communities but doesn’t know where to start.

Next year, All In will also begin recruiting paid teams of local people to work full-time on the issues local communities care about. They will receive training, support and mentoring to create innovative solutions.

Find out more and watch a short video of the ice cream tour at

To see the exhibition, visit Eastlight House in Charter Way, Braintree, next to Braintree Village, on a weekday between 9am and 5pm. You can also enjoy a drink in our community café on the ground floor, which is now open to the public.