Charity seeks business partners to offer a hand-up

Your company and staff can make a real difference to local homelessness and poverty by supporting the Northampton Hope Centre.

Homelessness is something many of us don’t like to think about, but the sad truth is that it can impact anyone at any time in their lives. It doesn’t matter what your personal circumstances might be, what work you do, how much you earn, or who your circle of family and friends is.

Imagine that, for whatever reason, your world is suddenly turned upside-down and you find yourself without a place to live. Who would you turn to? Where would you go? This isn’t intended to be a sob story. It’s about hope, and how local Northamptonshire businesses hold the key to helping turn around the lives of those most in need.

The Northampton Hope Centre has been at the forefront of tackling poverty and homelessness for the past 45 years. The charity’s mantra has always been to offer a hand-up, rather than a hand-out, and as such it is currently supporting more than 60 rough sleepers in the town every night, as well as helping the one-in-four local families who regularly skip meals due to food poverty.

In addition to offering a day centre for people aged over 18 who are disadvantaged, the Hope Centre delivers training and support to help get people into employment, while the charity’s food club also supplies people on low incomes which barely cover their rent, heat and clothing needs.

Business links

So where and how does business fit into this equation? Quite simply the Hope Centre and its dedicated team have developed and been running an impressive range of B-to-B services, corporate social responsibility (CSR) programmes and volunteering opportunities for many years.

Its initiatives offer companies the opportunity to develop their staff and benefit from the charity’s services, while also giving back to society and helping people.

“We have several CSR projects on offer for any organisations who would like to get their staff involved with work that makes a real difference to people’s lives,” explains Louise Danielczuk, Hope Centre Fundraising and Marketing Manager.

Food club

“One of the most important areas we need help with is our highly successful Hope Food Club. Based on a social supermarket model, we take all of the food donated to us and then sort it into date order in our warehouse ahead of distribution.

“This food is then sold on through our pop-up shops around Northampton, which offer boxes of goods worth around £30. We sell these on for just £7.50, enabling us to help people who are on the cusp of poverty and keep the shops functioning and viable.

“One couple using the service said they had been regularly missing meals so they could afford to feed their children and that our shop had made all the difference. Another client said the club meant their family had been able to switch on their central heating for the first time in months.

“A year ago we were running one pop-up shop a week. Now we’re operating five and giving out more than 80 boxes to over 70 people and families who are living in severe poverty. If your business or employees can donate any products ranging from rice, tea, fresh vegetables and fruit, through to milk, eggs, bacon and jars of pasta sauce then please get in touch!

“This isn’t just about people who are street homeless. Many have been housed, but are struggling to make ends meet. We’re hugely grateful to all of our volunteers, but we have just one van to service all of this so we need more donations and people.

“We also urgently need volunteers to help sort food donations by date and type at our warehouse in Kingsthorpe. The work is surprisingly fulfilling, offers a real sense of camaraderie and looks great on the CV of anyone who is able to contribute. Covering the rent for this site is also a huge pressure so any corporate donations or fundraising initiatives to help are very welcome, particularly as we are now seeing up to 150 people for breakfast and lunch at the Hope Centre.

Allotments

“The corporate groups who help work on our allotments recognise the team-building benefits of enjoying a day out in the fresh air and getting back to nature! We’ve completed a full year of planting so we’re now coming into our first harvest. All of the produce we grow is going into the Hope Centre’s kitchens or sold through the food club.

“We were thrilled to recently welcome 40 staff members from Levi Strauss & Co who joined us on the allotments, followed by another 40 from Cummins UK, and we also encourage individuals to participate. Whether they are digging or planting carrots, everyone who participates says they really feel like they’ve helped feed the people who need our services the most – and they have!”

Everything else

“Because we are a relatively small organisation we’re naturally very careful about how we spend our money,” continues Noo Jarvill, Corporate Fundraiser at the Northampton

Hope Centre.

“Other than volunteering, businesses can help by donating towards our work, or by employing our Hope Enterprises Catering services.

“On the fundraising front many companies have contributed in the past by organising food drives or raising money by wearing jeans in the office on a Friday. Just encouraging employees to provide one can of food or £1 a week can make an amazing difference.

“Another important issue is finding people who can share their skills. We don’t have our own experts in HR, IT, health and safety and all the other professional abilities that many organisations may take for granted as part of their

core operations.

“We can really use experts who, for example, can read and help update our policies, offer pro-bono legal advice, deliver professional marketing support, and help us communicate our messages, activities and achievements through social media.”

To find out more about how you can make a difference with the Northampton Hope Centre visit: www.northamptonhopecentre.org.uk or email: office@northamptonhopecentre.org.uk