A charity that supports local people struggling to provide for their families in North Staffordshire is on the move to new premises in Newcastle-under-Lyme.
Alice Charity founders Steph Talbot and Emily Petts say they have taken the decision to purchase premises to meet unprecedented demand from families in need of help and is no cause for celebration.
Staff will begin to relocate to the former Newcastle Methodist Church and Assembly Rooms, in Merrial Street, Newcastle this month, providing office space, a community café and community spaces.
Founded in 2011 by mum and daughter, Steph Talbot and Emily Petts, Alice Charity has been providing services from rented accommodation in the Ironmarket, Newcastle, but need to move as the premises is now bursting at the seams.
Unprecedented demand, partly fuelled by the pandemic lockdowns, has led the charity to employ additional staff in the past year and look for additional community space.
Emily Petts said: “We needed to grasp the nettle and find bigger and more suitable premises. Buying premises for the first time is daunting, but absolutely necessary to allow us to serve the people of North Staffordshire and for the wellbeing of our team of staff and volunteers. It also future proofs the charity – we are committed to helping families who need support in the long-term.”
Alice Charity has grown from humble beginnings. Emily and Steph began by providing support with a baby and toddler group for families in Clayton. Demand grew and the founders recognised the need for support to be given for families who “fell through the cracks” of the official agencies.
“The huge demand for our services is shocking. There’s an ever-increasing need for support and this means we have had to continually add to our service offer,” added Emily.
“Our growth is certainly not a cause for celebration, it reflects the number of families who struggle to make ends meet day in and day out in North Staffordshire. Every day, we work with families to help them break the cycle of poverty and dependence.”
Alice’s mission is to offer flexible support in a practical manner for families. New service strands have been added to cope with demand including the “Pass It On” scheme. Which collects and supplies furniture and household white goods, Bump and Beyond”, which gives new mums practical support, “Lean In”, a service offering emotional support which aims to break the downward spiral of negative self-worth through compassion and connection, “Buckets of Possibilities”, which aims to turn houses into homes by helping families to fit carpets, hang curtains and decorate, and the “People’s Pantry,” based in Bridge Street, Newcastle, providing food to stop families going hungry, and “Big Cup” baby and toddler groups across the communities of Newcastle and Stoke.
All programmes are backed by the generosity of public donations and the local business community, but there’s a constant need for services in Stoke-on-Trent and Newcastle. The Potteries is the 16th most deprived area in England out of 326 districts and around 75,000 local residents are considered to be in the 10 per cent most deprived group of people in England.
The People’s Pantry will remain in its current home .
“Our move opens more possibilities to support our community,” added Emily. “We can offer meeting space for other charities and a community café. We will begin the move in July, but some areas need to be refurbished and it could be over twelve months before everything is completed.”