Who are we?
Pan Together exists to support and provide a community hub for the residents of East Newport, which includes the Island's most disadvantaged area, ranked at 5.8% in England's most deprived. In other words, 94% of places across the country are more affluent than Pan.
Many local people are amongst society's most vulnerable and marginalised, including the shocking 35% of local children growing up in poverty compared to an England average of 17%.
These statistics are from September 2019. The situation has undoubtedly worsened in the wake of the pandemic and the cost of living crisis which is biting so hard.
Our purpose-built centre comprises: a community café providing wholesome, affordable food whilst also acting as a social hub; an IT learning suite (with free Wi-fi and eight computers); two community rooms; a large training kitchen; and an outside produce-growing area.
We provide: vital signposting/triage support for people needing help and advice; help to avert social isolation; free courses in Maths, English and IT; free weekly drop-in sessions for people wanting to brush up their skills and/or get help with their CV and/or are thinking about returning to work after a break; volunteering/work experience opportunities; social activities such as bingo; and cookery sessions for children and vulnerable families.
We run a community larder twice a week for local residents. Members pay £5 per weekly visit for two carrier bags of fresh, frozen, tinned and dried food and other household essentials and receive £20 to £30 of goods which they choose for themselves.
We run a Warm Space each Thursday and Friday, which is based on a simple idea: turn down your heating and come and use ours instead. Everyone's invited - young and old. There's a warm welcome, friendly chat, refreshments and plenty of things to do - as well as the chance to socialise and meet new people.
We’ve a pivotal role at the heart of the local community – offering both direct practical support in terms of advice and signposting, food and the chance to learn new skills and more indirect support with respect to being a warm, friendly and nurturing centre for people struggling with the challenges of their lives – e.g. poverty, isolation, loneliness, low levels of self-esteem / self-confidence.
The unprecedented events of the last three years meant there was a pressing and on-going requirement for us to re-purpose our services to best meet the urgent and specific needs of worried, lonely and isolated people during the pandemic. Spearheaded by the Community Centre Manager, much was achieved on a day-to-day basis to support vulnerable local residents in this most difficult period and we undoubtedly made a real difference to people’s lives.
Through our lifeline support services, we helped local residents in over 5,300 different ways from March 2020 to November 2021 – including preparing and delivering 1,805 no-cost children’s lunches for families on the cusp of eligibility for free school meals; 2,334 subsidised home-delivered lunches for vulnerable adults; 279 prescription collections and deliveries; and 208 rounds of essential shopping.
In the first two months since opening our community larder in November 2022, we’ve had 176 visitors and 404 mouths have been fed.
In May 2022, the Earl and Countess of Wessex (Prince Edward and Sophie) made an unprecedented visit to the centre to say thank you to our volunteers and staff for all their hard work during the coronavirus emergency.
As part of the late Queen's Platinum Jubilee celebrations, in June 2022 Pan Together was awarded the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service - the highest award a voluntary organisation can receive in the UK and the organisational equivalent of an MBE.
In December 2022, we received a High Sheriff's Award in recognition of 'great and valuable services to the community'.
Why are we crowdfunding?
Having identified the growing need in Autumn 2021, our community support/anti-poverty services are (sadly) increasingly essential. No-one should have to choose between food, fuel and children's clothes. We can't change the world but we do make a tangible and direct difference to people's lives. The need is certainly urgent and pressing as these mums said.
"I’ve never asked for help before as I find it extremely embarrassing but I was getting so desperate I actually thought about stealing food to feed my kids".
"This past four days, I've gone through £12 of gas. That’s without electric, bills, food, rent and the ever-growing council tax".
“I just wanted to say thank you for the kind and generous supermarket voucher I received today. Thanks for continuing to support and reassure the least fortunate. I've now been referred to the relevant people to help with my fuel bills to try and get back on top. You amaze me. No questions, no judgement, no pressure: just pure love and support. I can only imagine where I'd be now if I didn’t have you to turn to”.
How we'll spend the money raised
All of the funds raised will be spent on our vital community support and anti-poverty services including stock for our Community Larder and refreshments and activities for our Warm Space.
We're providing direct and vital support to local families and households in these grim and challenging times when the cost of living crisis is biting so very hard for so many.
We’ve seen a shocking 160% increase in requests for food-related support in the period from July to October 2022 compared to requests from October 2021 to June 2022. Sadly, demand is only going to increase – and demand is probably greatest from working families.
Families like Zoe and Pete (not their real names) who have three little boys.
Zoe has mental health issues on top of other medical conditions and Pete works full-time. He earns £5 too much for them to be eligible for any support or benefits and is too afraid to ask his employer for a reduction in hours in case he loses his job. It really is tough out there.
Thank goodness we’re here to support – but in many ways we shouldn’t have to be.
It’s a damning indictment on society that people have to face desperate crises on a daily basis – but we’ll continue to do what we can to make a difference towards our mission of improving the conditions of life for local residents' futures.