Agenda item

Project Presentation by Acts Trust, Store of Stories


Simon Hawking from Acts Trust:


a)    provided the Board with a presentation and update on the progress of Store of Stories. During consideration of the presentation, the following points were noted: -


  • Acts Trust was a local charity founded in 2006 by Alive Church.
  • The name was derived from a vision that everything inside the store, had a story.
  • Research of models had been conducted around the country with regard to food surplus, overproduced by farms to divert to those most in need, rather than going to waste.
  • During the pilot year, there were over 1500 memberships and daily visits of between 63-80.
  • Beaumont Manner was chosen as a heritage building that had not been used for six years with close links for travel via bus/train. It was within walking distance of inner City neighbourhoods.
  • Worked in partnership with FairShare to provide fresh food.
  • Funding had enabled significant renovation of the building which had included redecoration and the installation of a disabled toilet with accessibility improved.
  • Community cafes had been created of which would be used to offer courses such as job skills, financial capability and mental health recovery.
  • The Old Club room had been transformed to the location of the community groceries and renovation had included cold storage space.
  • Renovation works had also included the conservatory area.
  • There had been an upgraded fire/intruder alarm system fitted and lighting and heating throughout.
  • There had been a kitchen area installed which would be used to creates soups and smoothies from waste food and renovation works had been carried out by Gelder Group, Lincolnshire Construction Company.
  • Outcomes of the project included bringing a heritage site back into public use and increased footfall in the area.
  • The project created 55 volunteer positions and the creation of 2 jobs and an office space had been created for the Team.


b)    welcomed comments and questions from Members of the Board


Comment: The project was phenomenal. The transformation of the building and the project itself had been incredible.


Question: What was the scalability of the project? Visitor numbers could increase significantly. What was the capacity for any potential increase?

Response: There was the capacity to double the current number of 60. The Store had looked at networks across the country that could accommodate 150 visits per day.


Comment: The project was fantastic and sincere thanks were shared for all those involved.


Question: There was an evolving concept for the philosophy behind the branding. If the project title remained the same, would the Store of Stories be shortened to ‘the Store’?

Response: Store of Stories was a project title used for approximately five years. The full name was ‘Lincoln Community Grocery’ and it would be that branding above the door to the building.


Question: Was there provision for emergency access to services outside of Monday – Friday?

Response: The project worked in partnership. Lincoln Foodbank provided access to emergency provision and the project had a delivery team for house bound service users to receive a home delivery.


Comment: The project had significant impact and it was fantastic that a heritage building was used.


Question: When considering viability and the long term, was the facility more viable the more used it was or would it require a subsidy? In addition, 55 volunteers was a significant number to find, how would that be dealt with?

Response: The total volunteers represented the number that signed up to the pilot and the team would move with us to the new building. In terms of viability, the cost of the stock was much lower than the wholesale price. Fresh food was acquired through FairShare with only a processing cost incurred. Costs for the Store were low and as a charity project, income was also generated through fundraising.


Comment: The project was fascinating and should be promoted as it would directly affect the community. Use of language was important to prevent dependency and promote independence. It was essential to give people a diversity of offer to choose and try new foods.


Comment: The project had enabled the ability to enlighten and share life skills such as soup making which provided mental health benefits.


Comment: Behaviour changes may not have been identified as an output but may be something to consider. It was important to ensure that enthusiasm to discover achievement did not damage the objective of the project.


Comment: The project was incredible and had received an investment of £226,000. At the outset there had been a significant focus on outputs however consideration had been given to the wider impacts also. The project had a very high benefit cost ratio.


Question: What could Members do in their day to day jobs of to alleviate challenges that were faced?

Response: It was important to consider the longer term, further to the initial reasons that individuals required access to the service. Help to signpost facilities from Members would be of significant assistance. If the project were made aware of a skills or workplace opportunity, services users could be directed to it. Collaborative signposted referrals would enable full support of the project.


Comment: Recognition was given to the dignity offered through the service. It was noted that there were other areas of the building that it had not been possible to renovate. As a Board, there could be the potential in the future to use underspends to create a business case outlining outputs, to fund future works. There had been a bid received for UK Shared Prosperity Funding (UKSPF) but ongoing collaborative work would identify maximum potential of the building.

Response: There were parts of the building identified for renovation within the next phase.


Members expressed sincere thanks and gratitude for the inspiring and dedicated work.


The Chair echoed comments from Members and thanked Simon Hawking for his work and providing an informative and inspirational presentation.


Supporting documents: