'SPEND a penny, (or a few) to help us fund our compost loo!'

That's the plea from mental health and wellbeing charity Trust Links, which has just launched a crowdfunder in partnership with Aviva Community Fund, for a compost toilet to be put in at St Laurence Orchard.

Matt King, Trust Links CEO explained: "We would love to install a composting toilet at the orchard so that people can use it when we have work parties, educational trips and community events.

"Currently we do not have any facilities at the orchard, so we have to keep our activities short, or visitors sometimes drive off to the local supermarket”.

The St Laurence Community Orchard, at Eastwoodbury Lane, Southend, is a remaining one and a half acre wildlife haven of orchards and smallholdings.

It is the last surviving fragment of a much larger orchard, which was first planted around 1920 after the First World War. Essex County Council leased the site to veterans of the Great War as a place to learn new skills and recover from the trauma of the Great War. The soldiers came from the nearby Shoeburyness Barracks.

There are over 53 types of apples at St Laurence Orchard, including a D’Arcy Spice – a very rare local variety.

Trust Links took over St Laurence Orchard in 2005 for therapeutic gardening and recovery.

Each January the Trust Links team invites the community to 'wake the orchard up' with wassailing and in October they celebrate the harvest Apple Day.

Trust Links maintain the Orchard with monthly work parties throughout the growing season.

Beckie Grout, communications and partnerships manager at Trust Links, said: "With improved facilities, Trust Links can use the Orchard more. We can hold more work parties, can engage different groups in learning about the orchard, and can run community events without having to hire in costly chemical toilets.

"We want a compost toilet because it is a sustainable choice.

"Trust Links want to install a waterless composting toilet, which means we will prevent water waste and show people what is possible without needing to connect to the mains system.

"It also means no digging and damaging of the beautiful site.

"The Orchard is a really important space for biodiversity, with apple trees that are one hundred years old and a range of habitats for a wide variety of creatures."

Aviva Community Fund is running the crowdfunder and is generously match funding donations pound for pound, on a first come first served basis between now and December 7, or until the entire £150,000 fund is allocated.

For every donation made towards the project, the Aviva will match it up to £50.

To donate what you can and find out more, visit: avivacommunityfund.co.uk/orchard-composting-toilet