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.


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


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.


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.


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.


Care For a Coffee is a project that runs in both Ilkeston and Mansfield where we simply open our doors to those who may be cold, hungry or alone and creating a place of belonging. Coffee, cake, friendship and fun can be found for people who would otherwise not be able to experience this kind of contact with other people. Everyone is made to feel welcome and accepted, which is having a massive impact on our community users.

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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.


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.


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.