FOODBANK

Arena Community foodbank is based at the Community Hub on Belfield Street, Ilkeston. The foodbank was started in response to the needs within Cotmanhay and Ilkeston. It was clear that individuals and families were struggling to aord the most basic necessities. The foodbank began by providing lunch to those in need and was based at The Arena, Rutland Street, Ilkeston, with food donated by members of Arena Church. The foodbank has now grown from a wooden pallet of donations to a warehouse. The foodbank is open every Tuesday and Friday 12pm-2pm serving hot food and drinks, and providing a safe place for people to sit and chat. Foodbank is also able to provide food parcels with a 3-day provision through a means-tested interview. Arena Community has been able to create good partnerships with local businesses who regularly donate to the foodbank. It is also supported by people signing up to our One Thousand Club. We have given away 8,324 food parcels between 2011 and 2016. These food parcels went to various families or individuals in hardship. Over 47% of all food parcels given out are for families of 3 or more. We serve an average of 85 meals a week, and over 100 a week during Christmas. We have connections with local housing charities to help tenants that are in dire need of food.

THE PROJECT

Arena Community took on the lease for the old Woolworth’s building on Bath Street, Ilkeston in late 2014. After receiving funding, the ground floor was refurbished and The Project opened for business in January 2017. It consists of a retail area selling restored and shabby chic furniture, as well as ‘pre-loved’ clothing, soft furnishings candles and toiletries. There is also The Workshop Cafe, which sells delicious meals, snacks and drinks at an affordable price. We are endeavouring to get funding to refurbish the first floor which we are planning to convert into an on-site workshop and classrooms. From here we will be able to train, educate and employ local people which will facilitate the furniture restoration programme and brings academic training in renovating, restoring and reinventing furniture that will be sold in the store. Our aim at The Project is to connect and serve our community with a view to creating strong bonds whilst giving training and employment opportunities. Our trading hours our Monday to Saturday from 9am to 5pm; the Workshop Cafe is open 9am to 4pm. For more information, please visit our website at www.theprojectilkeston.co.uk.

ACORNS

Acorns is an after school programme, which was established to feed and help develop primary school children. We provide a happy, safe, supportive and fun environment in which these children will thrive and develop as rounded, creative and responsible members of the community in which they live. Acorns receives donations from various food establishments in our community. As well as feeding the children a hot meal and dessert, the team engages the children in a variety of sports, games and arts & crafts aimed at building the child’s self-esteem and self-confidence. We want to help the children develop into successful young adults who are able to make good and healthy choices, as well as being able to integrate with other children. We want to help the children understand a diverse range of topics ranging from the environment to religion. This will enable the emerging generation to grow and reach their full potential. In August 2016, we took the Acorns children on a two day residential break to Condover Activity Centre for the first time. This gave them experiences and memories that they may not otherwise have had. From little acorns grow mighty oak trees.

CLOTHING BANK

As the cost of living continues to rise many families are finding it hard to make ends meet. There is a desperate need for aordable clothing in our community, as people are sometimes unable to provide new clothing for themselves or their family and rely heavily on recycled clothing. We recognised that we were able to help in this area. Clothing and shoes are donated to us and we sell them at extremely low prices. Our aim is to clothe people who can’t aord to buy new clothes, as well as those who are homeless and may be facing harsh weather. We wash and dry donated clothes. Most of our clothes are donated from the community and are sold from as little as 50p. Recent statistics show that nearly £1,200 worth of clothing gets disposed of in Derbyshire every year. Most of these items can be reused and could mean the dierence between someone wearing shoes or not being able to.

FLOURISH

Flourish is a project run by Arena Community, based at our Community Garden on Heanor Road, Ilkeston. It is designed to bring dierent communities from the local area together. Volunteers from all walks of life work together to help maintain the garden and allotment, growing produce which can be used at the foodbank. Benefits of the scheme include helping to improve confidence, reducing stress and anxiety, promoting healthy eating and exercise, and sharing cookery ideas. We are able to take schools and children from the Acorns programme to see Flourish, where they can learn about all the things they need to grow their own fruit and veg. Our volunteers perform many tasks including sowing, planting, digging, watering, weeding, harvesting and painting.

FOOD DRIVE

Arena Community foodbank operates food drives throughout the year. These take place in local supermarkets and give people the opportunity to donate items of food to the foodbank. In addition, the team also volunteers time to pack bags and assist shoppers at the tills. The food drive team has raised hundreds of pounds for the foodbank, contributing to its growth and to serving more people than ever before. We raise an average of £350 from each food drive, as well as items brought from the foodbank shopping list. The team is run by Kath Mason, one of our head chefs, and consists of seven members. This also helps to get Arena Community’s name known within the community. Many people who come to foodbank hear about us through the food drive initiative.

FURNITURE STORE

We noticed that many people in our community struggled to afford furniture and people often asked us if they could donate their unwanted items of furniture and electronics. When the foodbank moved to the larger facility at Belfield Street it was possible for us to store furniture that was donated. The Furniture Store is based at the Community Hub and is open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday 10am-4pm. All furniture is donated from the local community and sold at an affordable price. There is a large range of furniture from sofas, chairs and soft furnishings to fridges, TV’s, bikes and appliances. A dedicated team is able to provide delivery to local properties and will also collect items of unwanted furniture. The furniture store is also able to undertake house clearances.

ARENA HOPE

Arena Hope charity shop is situated on the Market Place at the heart of Ilkeston. Established in 2009 it has been serving the town by selling quality, new and used items at great prices, in a warm and friendly environment. Its aim is to provide clean, quality second-hand clothing and goods at reasonable prices. We stock a huge variety of products including clothing, jewellery, books, bric-a-brac,  toys, homewares and much more. Because we are a charity shop we rely heavily on the generosity of others for our stock, and so are always in need of donations. There is usually space behind the shop where you are able to drop these off. Our opening times are 9.00am to 4.00pm, Monday to Saturday.

SHARED HOUSING

Arena Community began a supported housing programme at the end of 2014 for vulnerable individuals in the community. People often arrived at foodbank who were homeless or who wanted to change their lives but did not know where to start. The supported housing programme provides both a safe place to live and a support network. The houses have either 2 or 3 bedrooms, and provide rooms for male and female tenants, but not mixed tenancy. Each tenant is provided with a programme tailored to their needs in order to help them improve their quality of life, develop skills, volunteer and eventually get into work. Our team of support workers spend time every day with tenants providing assistance with applying for benefits, finding courses and attending appointments. Our tenants are also given a budget which allows them to attend a hair salon every 6 weeks, or it may help purchase items of clothing etc. Some of our tenants ask that we save it to a certain amount to enable them to buy a more expensive item such as a new pair of shoes. This helps our tenants with their confidence and self-worth. Support workers visit the tenants daily and assist in various activities, or teach basic cooking skills. We also teach these adults how to adapt as many have been vulnerable for most of their life. There is also an arts and craft group that runs every Monday at Belfield Street that is free for all tenants. They make high-quality greetings cards and other handmade gifts that are sold at The Project. Other activities include bible studies, gym membership, walks, picnics and days trips.

PRISON VISITS

Many people have family or friends in prison and for one reason or another are not able to get there to visit them. Arena Community has a team of volunteers who take the time to visit individuals in local prisons. They are able to console and talk to those who may not have anyone visit them whilst they serve their sentence. We have contact with former foodbank clients who may be in prison, giving the individual a friendly face to talk and confide in. Alongside this we have a group of penpals who write to prisoners, discussing the news and hobbies. Most become true friends and often support each other when the prisoner is released. 59% of prisoners re-oend in the first 12 months after their release – our aim is to give them hope whilst they are in prison and help them with not reoending when they are released.

FOLLOW UP

This team specifically deals with members of the community that have a need outside of our existing remit. Team members meet with clients at the Community Hub and attempt to resolve their problems (or potential problems). Resolving an issue can take anything from 10 minutes to 6 weeks or longer. Out of the 1,681 people with addiction issues we have given food parcels to in 2014-2016, we have referred roughly 54% onto dierent resources for them to get help. Unfortunately not all our clients with addiction issues ask for help. Out of the 8,519 people we have served since 2011-2015, more than 60% of them have used this service, from helping with hospital appointments to finding therapists.