Worthing Community Chest: Charity celebrates 20th anniversary and highlights £420,409.30 worth of grants given out over the years

Worthing Community Chest has celebrated its 20th anniversary with a summer gathering for some of the groups and organisations it has supported over the years.

Thursday, 29th July 2021, 11:50 am
Updated Thursday, 29th July 2021, 11:50 am

The charity makes money from clothes and shoes donated at its green textile bins around the town and offers grants for local projects each year.

During the afternoon tea at Palm Court Pavilion yesterday, a giant cheque for £420,409.30 was presented to represent all the money the charity has given out in two decades.

Noel Atkins, chairman, said: “The main purpose of the gathering was to celebrate our 20th anniversary with our groups and to have the cheque presentation showing the total grants we have given over the past years.

Worthing Community Chest celebrates its 20th anniversary at a summer gathering. Picture: Steve Robards SR2107293

“We would love to hear from you if you would like to become a trustee.”

The charity also wanted to recognise the valuable contribution made by groups during the pandemic and four projects were highlighted during the afternoon.

The Sid Youth

Ryan Loversidge, director and programme lead, explained the non-profit organisation was set up in Adur and Worthing during Covid.

“Our main focus is around mentoring, to work with young people, early help and intervention, whether they are involved with criminality or anti social behaviour, and we have another project around wellbeing, helping young people back into school after isolation and lockdowns.

“Both have been a huge success and we are looking for funding to continue long term. One of the bids that came in was for detach work in Sompting and Worthing, engaging young people in their local areas.

“Going forward, we are also going to be working with West Sussex and Adur and Worthing councils, delivering school co-ordinators, to keep people from being excluded from school and running workshops where we’ll have the kind of conversations that might not happen in school.”

Worthing Food Foundation and Worthing Uniform Centre

Paul Eustice, organiser, said: “We feed local residents who are in need and also if they need school uniform, we provide that. It started in East Worthing but we now cover the whole of Worthing. Any excess fresh food we can’t use, we give to homeless hostels.

“We didn’t exist before lockdown. You very quickly discover you can’t get food for people who can’t afford it and therefore you need a food bank. The food bank was set up very quickly at East Worthing Baptist Church.

“It began as a small thing and then you very quickly discover there are more and more people in need. The more you look, the more you find.”

At first, they were ‘making it up’ as they went along - many of the volunteers had a lot of experience, they had just never run a food bank before. Paul said the grant had given them security and enabled them to plan for the future.

“Once you get a suitable grant, suddenly you can think a whole month ahead and we are now reverse engineering. We have to go back and change how we work to be more efficient.

“Without the grant, we simply probably wouldn’t have survived. Although a lot of people have been very helpful, you can’t ever be certain, and grants give you that breathing space and that’s what makes the difference.

“We have found over 16,000 people in food poverty in Worthing, and it’s only going to get worse, but so many people are trying to do something about this.”

He said local groups were now working in partnership with the council to set up a food poverty prevention alliance, planning a long-term response.

Electric Storm Youth

Mark Carrell, senior youth worker, said the non-profit organisation had received a grant for its work at Sir Robert Woodard Academy.

“I had an idea for a project based around how people have been affected by Covid and how they will be affected once it is all over. The idea was to offer more support in the secondary school to young people who have found lockdown really difficult and really challenging, in terms of mental health and anxiety.

“The money we received has made all the difference because although it wasn’t a huge amount of money, it enabled us to get the project off the ground and we are now working with 102 young people.

“They will be going into school shaking, they can’t come through the school gate because of their anxieties, and we have done some group mentoring work with them and individual mentoring to get them into school and engage them in classroom activities.”

Worthing Football Club Supporters Association

Angela Tanner, key projects and community engagement lead, said: “The supporters association has been working with the club to promote girls and women getting more involved in football and activities at the club as a whole. Football isn’t just about playing in the team, it is about volunteering, spectating, having a football family, so everyone turns up and everybody has a good time.

“One of the things we particularly wanted to look at was girls and women becoming more active, not necessarily playing football but just generally being more active.”

Covid-19 meant football had to stop and it is the people coming through the gate who bring the money in.

With the help of Worthing Community Chest, they were able to start to put together a series of sessions and events. Most of these are run by volunteers but the grant enabled them to pay for things like getting leaflets printed.

“Step Up and Walk is for non-sporty women. We basically measure out a short circuit in the local park, we meet up as a small group and then we go for a walk and a chat, and the next thing you know you’ve walked two miles and you didn’t notice because you’re busy enjoying yourself. We have set up a series of sessions and the idea is that they become self-supporting.

“We have also contributed towards the women’s football team kit. Before, they had to share their kit with the under-18 boys. So having a girls’ fit has made a lot of difference.”