Housing provider donates nearly £30k to community groups

Housing Plus Group has awarded grants of almost £30,000 to community groups supporting the people and families most affected by the pandemic and successive lockdowns.

Housing Plus Group's Gavin McAlister, centre, is pictured helping Liz Dipple and Karen Wardell of Rising Brook Church, as they prepare to make foodbank deliveries
Housing Plus Group's Gavin McAlister, centre, is pictured helping Liz Dipple and Karen Wardell of Rising Brook Church, as they prepare to make foodbank deliveries

In response to the pandemic, Housing Plus Group in association with Jewson, created a Covid-19 Community Fund which awarded emergency grants of up to £2,000.

It has now been announced that a total of £27,657 has been donated to 15 local groups working in Stafford, Stone, South Staffordshire and Shropshire.

Food banks, hospices, work clubs and organisations helping people to stay connected are among those to have benefitted from the grants. Donations went to organisations including Cannock & District Food Bank, Katharine House Hospice, Stone Community Hub, North Shrewsbury Neighbours and The Youth Net.

In Stafford, one of the organisations receiving a grant from the Covid-19 Community Fund was Signposts-Services. Liz Dipple, who manages their foodbank from Rising Brook Baptist Church, said: "The grant came at a crucial time when the numbers of people accessing the foodbank had quadrupled and we were also supplying food for 50 families from a nearby school.

"We were particularly grateful as we received not only funding but also practical help from a Housing Plus Group employee who volunteered to take out food deliveries. This support enabled us to scale up our operations in this key role in the community."

Another recipient of the grant funding was Support Staffordshire, which offers support to Voluntary Community Sector organisations. The community connectors in South Staffordshire are all volunteers who act as a link in their community to residents, groups and charities.

Anne Ross, who is senior locality officer in this area, said: "Connecting our communities across South Staffordshire has proved so valuable and the generous donation from Housing Plus Group has made a remarkable difference to the project.

"Our Community Volunteer Connectors have gained confidence in knowing they are making an impact and improving people's lives in their communities across the five localities in South Staffordshire."

Telford Crisis Support successfully applied for a grant of £2,000. The charity provides emergency food parcels to people in crisis. Interim operations manager Teresa Rowe said: "In 2019/20 we provided 50,000 meal packages. Last year, that increased to 83,000 and we were also stepping in to help families with babies and toddlers who were too young to benefit from the food parcels provided to children eligible for free school meals.

"I don't know what we would have done without the donations we received. The support from Housing Plus Group made a real difference. It meant that we could offer healthy meals and buy fresh ingredients."

Sarah Boden, CEO of Housing Plus Group, said: "As one of the leading not-for-profit employers in the area, we have a responsibility to make a positive difference. For us, that meant ensuring that our staff could work differently to maintain essential services during the last 12 months. We made more than 38,000 reassurance calls to people experiencing social isolation and provided vital money advice to customers whose finances had been affected by Covid-19.

"The pandemic placed community organisations under huge additional pressure and together with Jewson, we were delighted to be able to help in a crisis."

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