Welcome to Hope4All
Hope4All is both a church and community project that is committed to eradicating food poverty, deprivation, and isolation in Pennywell, Sunderland. Located within St. Thomas’ Church, it houses a food cooperative shop and community café, as well as various social groups to reposition the role of the church as an interactive social hub within the community.
Food for Thought
Hope4All was formed in October 2020 at a time when church attendances were low, and the rates of foodbank clients were high. The team sought to reduce long-term dependency on foodbanks by promoting wellbeing, sustainability, and recycling within the community. In April 2021, Shop4All opened its doors to the public, giving residents access to a wide variety of food and drink, sold at heavily discounted rates. Stock in the shop includes donations from the likes of FareShare, M&S and Sainsbury’s; meaning there’s an impressive range on offer for customers to enjoy. There’s even a ‘Pet Street’ range of homemade pet food which raises funds for a local animal charity too!
Alongside this, shop members were also given access to donated clothing, furniture, and household items too. Throughout the month, the shop also houses a Citizens Advice advisor and a money & debt advisor, supplied by Sunderland West Advice Project, that offer valuable support networks. By offering these services, residents once again have the dignity to make their own choices and once again become financially independent whilst also being able to access further advice and support through the church.
Reconnecting Church and Community
Growing the church remains at the heart of Hope4All and their social activities reflect that. There’s a community café (Café4All) where residents can mingle, enjoy weekly specials, and engage with clergy members on a pastoral level. The café also hosts a weekly ‘Bible & Cake’ session for residents to engage with biblical teachings in a fun, relaxed and informal manner as well. The café is a product of a successful crowdfunding campaign, and it is a strong example of residents working together to shape the future of their community.
Social initiatives, such as the ‘Knit, Natter, and Sew on…’ crafts group and ‘The Bee Tones’ singing group have translated into more residents becoming involved with the church and attending the Midweek Eucharist service. By demonstrating an active church that listens to the needs of the community, Hope4All are empowering the residents of Pennywell to become more active and shape their community for the better.
A Modern Church for Modern Times
The Communities of Hope initiative has revitalised St. Thomas’ Church and has given it a new mission to help realise the true potential and value of residents in the way that God intended. Since its formation, the Hope4All project has been active in their local area by organising interactive Easter/Summer challenges through their social media, hosting fundraising events to champion good causes, as well as interacting with local councillors to help combat the issues that blight their local community. Moving forward, the long-term aim is to transform both the church and community to become more sustainable and the team are already hard at work, preparing their gardens to house beehives that will open new volunteering and employability opportunities to volunteers, as well as restore nature and greenery to the local area.
To follow their progress and find out more, you can follow them on their Facebook and Instagram pages. Alternatively, you can email Kimberley Lo (Community Lead) at: firstname.lastname@example.org.