Yorkshire Initiative Recognised for Community Efforts

09 July 2016

Leeds Based Community Project receives prestigious Community Project Award

The Charity Shop, which operates from Beeston Hill United Free Church, has received a Community Project Award for its vital work within the community and a cash prize of £1,750.

Carol Normanton and Pauline Peacock from the project were presented with the award at the United Reformed Church Assembly held in Southport on Saturday 9 July. The awards, sponsored by national church insurer Congregational, recognise the efforts of churches that establish social initiatives within their local community.

The project which started six years ago provides support and friendship to young families and vulnerable adult groups. Based in an area of high deprivation in Leeds, the shop opens every Friday morning with volunteers from the church and others who live in the local area. All funds from the sales of the charity shop are fed back into the project and the local community. As well as selling an array of mainly second hand goods, tea and toast is served to all who attend for a small fee.

Many refugees and asylum seekers are placed in the area often with nothing but the clothes they are wearing. The charity shop provides clothes and household items to help get them on their feet and offer friendship in times of desperation and uncertainty. The volunteers also help outside of the church by providing the homeless with hot drinks and snacks. They put the vulnerable in touch with local agencies such as St Georges Crypt for further help and advice.

Carol Normanton, church treasurer, said: “All the volunteers are absolutely over the moon with our success in winning the Community Project Award and are delighted that our work with the communities in a deprived area of Leeds is recognised on a national level.

“With the money we plan to expand the charity shop into another room of the church so we can offer more products for sale including good quality furniture at low prices. By selling more items, we can continue to serve the needs of the local community. We also plan to send children and baby wear abroad to war torn countries including Africa and Syria.”

Congregational Insurance Marketing Manager, Margaret Slater, said: “We place a strong focus on supporting community initiatives such as the Charity shop that really make a difference and unite people. I feel the success lies in the fact that this shop isn’t just about giving to those in material need; it is about giving to anyone who needs support in the community. No-one is ever made to feel that they are asking for charity.”

David Grosch Miller, Moderator of the General Assembly of the United Reformed Church (URC), and one of the judges added: “The standard of entries at this year’s Community project awards was very high, and each of the prize winning organisations have made a real impact in their local area – showing God at work in small details and large visionary projects. We are absolutely delighted that so many impressive, life-giving projects have grown out of local URC congregations and we’re proud to provide Beeston Charity Shop with their well-deserved cash prize and hope that this funding boost will enable them to continue their important community work.”

To view a short film on the project, please visit: https://youtu.be/ppwKoiNg_OA