The project have several activities and support networks, some run all year round and other are seasonal.

Weekly-

We are open for residents to drop in on Monday afternoons and Tuesdays. Parents and their children can come in for coffee/tea and we usually keep a stock of breakfast items which are all free. We provide a friendly safe area for parents and children to meet and play. We have a garden which provides a lovely area to relax in. Parents can access advice and help, make friends, find out what is going on in the community and take part in activities. We have a washing machine, dryer and a cooker for people to use. All facilities are free and well used by the community. We listen to parents and try to pick up on the things that they struggle with. Poverty and the effects on the family remain the biggest issue in this community. Therefore, many of our initiatives are designed to ease the burden of low income and the consequences that poverty brings.

On Wednesday there is an advice drop in and a number of projects provide a wider service that residents can access. People can come in and get the help from Ladywood Community Advice for benefits and other associated problems, access Ladywood Job Club and update CVs or look for work or get signposted to other agencies such as Shelter. They can be referred for emergency help with fuel and food to our initiatives or helped if they struggle to communicate with other agencies. We also have links with the debt advisor in Credit Union and of course encourage residents to plan for long term financial stability by helping them resolve debts. Once a fortnight a worker from Carers hub comes in to give advice and a worker from Severn Trent helps residents with water debt and grants.

Fuel poverty

Many families are struggling to maintain a constant fuel supply in their homes and with fuel prices rising, this is increasingly taking more and more of their weekly budget. In the winter there is extra pressure on heating costs and in the summer months the children are at home and families use more electricity and gas for cooking. For a number of years we have raised money to help the individuals and families in greatest need keep their supply on particularly if a financial crisis arises due to a delay in benefit or an unexpected cost arising.

Families have to be referred to the scheme from a money advisor, credit union or other professional such as a health visitor, social care or support worker, or advice staff at Birmingham Foodbank. Grants of between £10 and £50 are given following an assessment of need. Credit is added to their cards/keys rather than money given. This is one-off help because of the demand.

From April 2018 to end March 2019 we helped 94 adults and 111 children in fuel crisis at a cost of £2265. This has been funded by Ladywood Hardship fund, Warburtons, Gowling WLG and a private donation.

Holiday hunger

We know that parents struggle to feed their children during the summer, Easter and Christmas school break.

During term time many children have free school meals. Parents not only have extra food costs during the summer months but also extra fuel costs.

We worked with the local Foodbank and contacted firms to donate food for local families. Local businesses were very generous both with the donations and their time
in delivering and helping to pack the bags. Families had 2 big bags of food each (worth approx. £30). A big thank you to Gowling WLG, Sherborne Lofts Karen Bailey, Aston University, University College Birmingham and J Hudson. Families were referred by local money advisors, family and safeguarding teams, debt advisors and schools. This year we gave out 80+ bags of food. We were also able to help 25 parents and their 46 children in crisis need at a cost of £635.

Low cost trips and activities

Many parents dread the long summer, Easter and Christmas school breaks because there is a lack of affordable activities and to take children out costs extra money and many parents struggle to cope with these expenses. Parents sometimes feel upset that they cannot give holidays and outings to their children and this undermines their expectations of what a good parent should provide. Relationships can sometimes suffer and it is not always a positive time for families. Since the project has been operating we have always tried to offer very low cost trips and activities. We want to help families to enjoy their time together and with the rest of their community. It is important for children because we all need positive memories in our childhood.
We raise money to put towards trips and are able to provide outings at low cost. For example trips on a coach to the seaside cost £2 per seat making it very affordable even for large families. This year we have had two coaches to Weston Super Mare, one to Sandwell Valley, taken families to the Hippodrome and gave 20 tickets for the Safari Park. Please see Caron’s report for details of other activities. This year we have been fortunate to receive funding from BHSF, Gowling WLG, Argent and Unitarian church.

Christmas party

This is a good opportunity to get families together, helping cohesion and friendships to
develop between neighbours. We hire the ground floor of the Community centre and invite 150 children and their families to attend. These are hard work but have been very successful and are enjoyed by all. We have had a number of trusts and businesses that have contributed so much to help us make these events a success. 131 children attended with their 72 parents. Gowling WLG designed and printed posters and leaflets for us to send to the local primary schools (Nelson, St John’s and St Peter’s, Oratory, St Patrick’s, St George’s,
St Thomas’, Barford and St Catherine’s) so we have a good mix of children from the whole of the ward. BAM sent us an elf in the form of Phil Eaves who constructed a grotto and sleigh with help to decorate from local residents and Argent staff. The children all had party boxes with food from Gowling WLG and the presents were funded by Property for Kids who also funded the Wrigglers trip to Santa. This year we received help from Baron Davenport’s Trust, J Hudson, Colmore Tang, Argent, Impact hub and many other local businesses who either gave us money for the costs or donated goods for the raffles.

Emergency help

We keep a small stock of food, toiletries and nappies for emergency help. We try to help as much as we can even giving bus fare or cash. This is very limited and so is not always available

.Great Get Together and Ladywood Funday

Both of these events were spearheaded by local residents Andrew Jennings (GGT) and Gill Robinson (Funday) and were assisted by local agencies including us. The Great Get Together was part of national celebrations in memory of Jo Cox, the MP who was murdered. It was an opportunity for people to come together with friends, neighbours and perhaps even total strangers to celebrate what they have in common. It was held in the community centre and there were craft activities, food and a choir performed. The Funday has been an annual event for many years and takes place on St John’s field. It is very well attended and enjoyed by all.