Born out of the desire to reach the neediest in their community, BCOC’s journey over the past 5 years demonstrates what can be accomplished when people with an idea and passion receive practical support and encouragement to build strong foundations and structure – they make their hopes a reality.
During Summer 2013, on a voluntary basis and with no funds to speak of aside from donations from local church members, volunteers started a Friday lunchtime project to provide the ‘basic needs’ (food, relief from isolation and emotional support) of struggling people in their deprived community. Within a matter of weeks numbers soared to 40-50 people. After a successful three-month pilot, with no ongoing funds or foundations as an organisation, Batley Community Outreach Centre engaged Futurekraft for support in shaping its structure and vision, as well as seeking funding.
In the first three years BCOC established the Friday Project (open all day every Friday, offering meals, counselling, advocacy services and transport for the most vulnerable); Wellspring (a drop-in for over-55’s living in isolation, providing afternoon tea and social, health and wellbeing activities); and Home visitation (outreach services for those who do not have the ability or confidence to leave home). Today BCOC support over 120 people each week.
What was needed
Everything was needed! BCOC started through the concern, love, commitment and generosity of local church members for the most desperate people in their community. They had a great idea, and were undeterred by lack of structure, know-how or funds. However, after their hugely successful Friday project pilot, it was clear that to continue more was needed to grow their services in a sustainable way:
- The implementation of systems, policies and procedures.
- A development plan.
- Sustainable funding achieved through a funding strategy.
- Registration as a charity and support for trustees in creating strong governance.
- Training for volunteers and trustees.
- Sessional workers to supervise sessions and do outreach.
What we achieved
Wellspring has expanded to include common interest groups around craft, gardening, DIY or cooking. This represents new growth. An in-house shop, to provide everyday essentials for the most deprived, had been a longed-for development, and so funding has been raised to make this a reality. Over £87k has been raised towards services in the past year. Safety measures within the building have also been upgraded.
A community consultation has been conducted which has raised awareness of local needs and is now providing key direction through a new development plan. This identifies a distinct need for family work – such as family cooking sessions, kids’ activities, and especially hot meals for children during school holidays.
To accomplish these services, extra staff will need to be employed and more volunteers recruited and trained. An ongoing issue is the accessibility of the building and this will be addressed soon through applications for capital funding.