Tackling Poverty In The Community

If ever there was a tangible sign of how the charities supported by the Steve Morgan Foundation can often become inter-twined, it arrived last week with the official handover of a new refrigerated van to the Neo Community Café in Rock Ferry in Birkenhead.

Jane Harris, Regional Grants Director with the Foundation, turned up to mark the official handover of the new van, to see one of the previously-donated Smiley Buses rolling up and dropping 15 children off to join in a Community Fun Day taking place at Neo.

It turns out that the bus awarded to Gilbrook School by the Steve Morgan Foundation had been loaned for the summer holidays to Gautby Road Play Scheme, saving them £900 over the summer in hire fees.

“What a great example of our supported organisations working together,” says Jane.

The Steve Morgan Foundation has already previously supported the Neo Community Centre with funding for core costs to help build sustainability.

NEO stands for ‘Need, Engaged and Organised’, and is a community centre offering a range of facilities and activities, including a café, arts room, counselling room, games room, kids’ holidays clubs, gardening projects, volunteer training and community shop.

The charity also runs a charity shop in Birkenhead, where clothes and household items are available to purchase at minimal prices, following the charity’s innovative ‘make do and mend’ philosophy which involves a copious amount of recycling and re-using of goods.

The refrigeration van, costing almost £20,000, has now been donated by the Foundation to help with another innovative project from NEO, which has grown out of that community shop.

“The charity has been working with the Feeding Britain campaign on a project to tackle food poverty in the community,” Jane explains.

“They have established a well-run food interception programme which stocks the community shop and also provides free meals for children and families, also thanks to a full-time chef funded by the John Moores Foundation.

“Food pick-ups are made seven days a week from a range of small and large supermarkets, as well as matchday collections of produce donated by supporters of Tranmere Rovers Football Club.

“Previously the drivers had to use an increasingly ageing transit van which had completed almost 200,000 miles and had become very unreliable and was also ill-equipped to transport refrigerated food.

“They can also deliver meals and, within just two days of handing over the new van, 900 lunches had been delivered to children attending various plays schemes across the Wirral as well as the food collections.

“Other regular food drops are also made to local hostels, community groups and to North Birkenhead Development Centre for their weekend emergency food provision.”

This food project is now just one of that series of services provided by the Neo Community Centre which has greatly impressed trustees from the Steve Morgan Foundation.

“The charity benefits from the use not only of ‘core’ volunteers, as well as many other general volunteers who assist with NEO’s work and objectives,” Jane added.

“Every week, almost 400 people regularly use the facility, of all ages, from families with young children to pensioners.

“NEO’s work in addressing poverty and disadvantage and helping to upskill people from the local area is truly remarkable, and is helping to turn around the fortunes of the community.”




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