Idea 1: Santa Gifts for Foodbank Families

I volunteer at SHARE (Shoeburyness Help and Resource Enterprise) a local foodbank and advice centre held every Thursday from 12.30pm to 3pm at Shoeburyness and Thorpe Bay Baptist Church, for all families in the SS3 postcode. To date we have 120 families on the register which involves 183 children. SHARE has no regular income; we rely totally on monetary and food donations to keep the service going and provide not only food parcels but a sense of community to some of the most vulnerable families in our local area.

We opened in January this year and so, since this will be our first Christmas, we want to hold a Christmas party for the pre-school age children (approximately 70). One of our volunteers is dressing up as Santa and I’m being pressed into Elf duty to assist, but because we have no regular income we are asking for donations to allow us to buy a selection of age-appropriate books which we can wrap up and give to the children (one each).

Why is this Idea important? A lot of the children we work with come from low-income families and often have to share their toys, clothes etc with other siblings. We want them to have something small but new of their very own rather than a hand-me-down, and to do something special for them at Christmas. By giving them a book, we hope to not only provide them with something which is “theirs” but also provides an opportunity to spend quality time with parents and older siblings in reading and sharing the story – you’re never too young to discover the magic of a good book, after all! It may only be a small gift but it will mean an awful lot to these children to have their own small party and meet Santa.

How would funding help? We would use the money to buy a range of cheap, age-appropriate books for children from 0-5, which we will then wrap up and give to Santa to give out at the party.

What’s happening 6 months from now? Six months from now, hopefully the children will still be enjoying a good book! We will also be continuing to provide advice and support for the families through the SHARE project.

Idea 2: Churches Winter Night Shelters 

This winter, we will be running from 18th November to 31st March.

We again have seven churches who can act as hosts, so we probably have every night of the week covered. I say probably because 2 or 3 of the churches are struggling to find suitable people who can take responsibility during the night shift. Our guests have to go to HARP who conduct a quick risk assessment before referring them to us.

Why is this Idea important? During the 2011 – 2012 winter, we were open for 44 nights and 3 churches hosted about 90 guests. Last winter, 7 churches saw 155 guests, some of whom stayed for most of the 120 nights that we were open. It is estimated that there are between 20 and 30 “entrenched” rough sleepers in Southend. Some of then won’t normally engage with the Council’s Housing Options Team or HARP, but will accept being referred to a church-based shelter.

After last winter, a few of them later started to engage with HARP and have been helped, even accommodated!

How would funding help with your Idea? The churches provide an evening meal, a bed and breakfast for 20 guests – mostly paid for from their own funds.

We also have a “central pot” from which we make equal payments to each church towards eg the extra gas and electricity that they will be using. It is funded by donations from individuals, churches and local companies.

What’s happening 6 months from now? We pray that more of our guests will see that help is available and will move from a life on the streets to be properly housed.

Idea 3: Southend Eco-Art Group for Children

Why is this idea important?

Our vision…

  1. Let children experience fun, a great by-product of something meaningful, not an end in itself.
  2. Give children the opportunity to enjoy a ‘technology free’ activity and produce art that is kind to our planet and encourages ethical consumption.
  3. Empowering children through creating a space for them to discover the power of their contribution to the community of other local children. Demonstrate that a business activity can be used not only to generate profits, but also to support groups and communities lacking finances, opportunities and skills.

Our aspiration for 2014: We are already running workshops in London, Southall and are looking to expand to Southend. We would like to set up a regular after school class or weekend workshops for local children to enjoy creating and use inexpensive household items or recycled materials. So far we have used techniques like potato stamps and paper mosaics recycling old magazines to produce beautiful cards and gift wrapping paper.

Our first project in Southend will be creating toys and practical items like lamp shades from card-board and recycled paper. Children can decide if they like to keep their toy or would like to donate it to other children, perhaps from families with low-income who cannot afford to buy new toys.

How would funding help with your idea?

Things we need to turn our aspiration into a successful project:

  1. A place/hall where we can run the workshops (provided for free or a symbolic fee)
  2. A passionate adult who would love to run the workshops and help me to co-ordinate the project.
  3. Donations of card-board boxes, recycled greeting cards or wrapping paper are always welcome

What’s happening 6 months from now?

The philosophy behind the project:

The fee for the workshop is £5 per 2-hour session per child. The workshops co-ordinator/teacher will be a volunteer who needs to be DBS (formerly CRB) checked. The proceeds from the workshops will be divided 50/50 between the group and a charity Amargur which sponsors the education of unprivileged children in India. The Southend art-group of children will have the unique opportunity to decide how they can use the funds created from their own fees to support other children locally – e.g. it could be devoted to buy toys for children in the hospital or to fund another eco-art group for children coming from poor families who cannot afford to pay for such workshops. We will guide them in the process how to invest the fund for a good cause but the choice of investing their own profits will be theirs.

Idea 4: Mothering Matters

To facilitate a weekly discussion group for mothers of all ages and stages to come together in a safe and confidential environment to talk, share their experience and support each other through their unique mothering journey.
The group will be woman-centred to enable mothers, with or without their children to improve their wellbeing.

Why is this Idea important? As a psychotherapeutic practitioner I understand the value of relationships and communicating. Mothering is a unique and often difficult role. Nothing prepares us for the magnitude of what mothering entails.

While baby and toddler groups enable mothers to meet up, unless a mother has a “problem” and seeks help there are very few, if any services/groups which focus on a mothers wellbeing.

How women feel about their ability to mother affects not only herself and her child/ren but all her relationships. I believe society benefits when mothers are supported and given the confidence to mother to the best of their ability.

How would funding help with your Idea? Funding will help me start the group. I plan to host this weekly at the Leigh Community centre and any funding I get will go towards room hire costs, refreshments and advertising including setting up a website.

Your Idea takes off; what’s happening 6 months from now?
I hope to have an established group with a turnover of mothers who we can support on their mothering journey. I hope to expand to offer other services to support mothers’ wellbeing including ante-natal wellbeing. I hope to host other events with speakers, film showings and to be a resource for all Mothering Matters.

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