18 March 2016

Community groups give and gain

A growing network of community minded partners whose aim is to “give back” to the people of Sutton Coldfield are seeking volunteers so that even more people can benefit from their altruistic work.

Businesses, schools and charities have teamed up to support a number of people and worthy causes, including disadvantaged families in the area. Organised and hosted by Waitrose, Mere Green, under the umbrella of their commitment to the local community, the store’s Give and Gain meetings are held each month.

The group are now hoping to attract more local organisations to their meetings. In addition, Waitrose’s new volunteer initiative will give charities and groups the chance to display any volunteering opportunities on a dedicated notice board in the store. This will also provide another way in which groups or individuals can offer their services.

Staff at Waitrose, Sutton, are already volunteering their time to help. This builds upon the financial support that Waitrose give away every month with more than £1000 being donated to good local causes via their Community Token Scheme.

Sue Bailey, community champion and assistant headteacher of Arthur Terry School, said:

Our aim is to give something back to our community, to support the people, groups and the charities in the area. Waitrose recognised that we had the capacity, along with a shared moral purpose, to help.

Together, we look at where there’s a need and what we can do to lend a hand.

It’s heartening to see the difference this is already making. It might be on a small level, through the donation of some toys or food, or on a much more profound basis. It’s great to see everybody coming together for the greater good and I’ve been struck by the generosity – of spirit, time and support. There’s a real desire to give –  not just for the day – but all year round. There’s also so much to gain and the rewards are immense.

Our group has grown very organically – we share similar values and a genuine care for our community and we are all well placed to serve our community. We want to grow even further so that collectively, we can support even more people, because that’s what being part of a community is about. We welcome any new members to come along to our meeting next week to see how they can make a difference too.”

The community partners have made an impact in many areas, some of which were reported at their meeting last month:

  • Sue Ayes, representing Our Place Community Hub in central Sutton, told how Waitrose had supported their Christmas party for disadvantaged families by providing toys and Christmas presents for the children. Waitrose had also helped Mere Green families with an under five, by supporting a Christmas party at The Hub.
  • A young mother in Four Oaks who had found herself homeless over the festive period received a luxury gift from Kim Hyslop of Belwell Interiors. She was delighted to know that someone was thinking of her and was really pleased to receive such a generous gift. Kim has also volunteered to support other families with a room makeover or help with soft furnishings.
  • Arthur Terry PTA also benefitted with complimentary mince pies for their Christmas Carol Service from Waitrose They were also indebted to Buzzards Valley who kindly donated a large Christmas tree that was enjoyed by all.
  • Footsteps Counselling Service, based in Mere Green, are founder members of the group. The service, run by Yas Benson, recognised the need for counselling for children and adults alike in Four Oaks. They have benefited from the expertise around the table and again have had support from Buzzards Valley and Waitrose
  • The John Taylor Hospice are also regular members, with Surrinder Bains being a founder member. They have benefited from financial support from Mere Green Primary School, who are also members.
  • Representatives from St James Church and The Mothers Union also contributed to the last meeting. Jackie Brocklebank told members about a crèche service that they ran at a local prison. Terry Dockery, a volunteer representing food banks within the locality, also gave an update on what the community needed and how beneficial the food bank service was.
  • Sam Nicolson from Best of Sutton Coldfield, has also been a regular member represented along with other local groups and organisations.

Waitrose give and gainTo find out more about volunteering opportunities please contact Lorraine Davis at Waitrose at 150.pcm@waitrose.co.uk