Trowbridge Future supports local vulnerable people by providing opportunities for them to come together, build stronger relationships and improve their community and the things that matter to them. They work with families and young people through their community hub in the Shires Shopping Centre and now through satellite hubs. They received a £15,000 Community Grant over three years to support their vital work. Chief Executive Meg Aubrey explains why the funding is essential:

“This grant helps give us the certainty we need to plan our response to the cost of living crisis in some of the areas of most deprivation in the town. The cost of delivering our services, as well as those needing support, have increased significantly therefore our income requirements through grants and fundraising have risen from £45,000 to £224,000 in four years. The Foundation’s grant, together with the credibility it brings, has given us leverage to get this other funding. We are very grateful for it because it will help us to extend our work further into the communities of Trowbridge.

“Our work is about responding to the needs of communities and developing activities around that. As an organisation we create vehicles to connect with communities and once we get a model that works, we are able to replicate it. An example is the success of our community fridge at the Seymour hub, which has led to two more fridges at the Longbridge and Studley Green estates thanks to Wiltshire Community Foundation’s funding.

“We pick up unsold fresh food nine times a week from Sainsbury’s, Marks and Spencer and Greggs. People who visit the fridge can take a bag of food home – we are feeding around 150 people a week through that, and it is all food that would otherwise be thrown away because the foodbanks can’t deal with perishable food. Our mantra is filling bellies, not bins. “Our staff encourage people who collect food to stay and chat over a cup of tea, which is where the hubs really come into their own. It creates a mechanism to connect. All our work is relational so once you build a relationship you can get to people, particularly those who are isolated.

“Each of the fridges has their own community where people have got to know each other and support one Trowbridge Future another. We also get partners such as Selwood Housing along to help with housing issues. We can’t solve all the problems created by the cost of living crisis because it is systemic but we can create a safe space where people can get support from their peers through the networks and friendships they make. “We are seeing people who are struggling and having to choose between paying their rising monthly commitments and putting food on the table. They can’t even afford regular hot water which means their standard of living has reduced.

“Our hubs are also home to our twice-weekly Kindness Cafes, which develop the relationships we make among the people who come to the fridges. People of all ages, who might not see anyone outside their home for days on end, can come along to chat, share problems and get advice and support from their friends and the charity’s staff. “The cafes match our values of being inclusive, engaging, impartial and kind. The impartiality is important because when people are really struggling they get frightened of going to their landlord or housing association because they fear they might be evicted, so they can talk it through with us.

“We hugely value the funding and encouragement we receive from the Foundation; it’s great to get local support. We have a really positive relationship with the grant managers. They can come and see us and they encourage us to be part of their networks, so it’s more than just the money, we feel very supported. It’s so nice to have a funder who really recognises and values what we do.”

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