A CHARITY which provides vital support to some of South Tyneside’s most vulnerable citizens is aiming to raise £500,000 to expand its services.
South Shields-based Hospitality and Hope, now based at the former Hampden Street Day Centre in South Shields, runs food banks and soup kitchens across the town.
Now it has moved into the former Duncans pet shop at Chichester after the North East’s Willan Trust bought the building and rented it to the charity at a peppercorn rent.
The aim is to create a community cafe on the bottom floor of the building which would be open to the public.
And the upstairs is to be converted to provide supported living for five adult males.
It’s a hugely ambitious project with the revamp work needed and first year running costs expected to cost £500,000.
Fortunately, Hospitality and Hope volunteers had already started fundraising before the charitable trust purchased the building on its behalf, and is “well on its way” to its target.
But Amelia Luffram, project co-ordinator with the charity, has still called on the borough’s business community to rally in support.
She said: “It is really two separate projects. The supported living upstairs will definitely be open before the end of the year but there is an awful lot of work to do in the cafe as the pet shop has been closed for several years.
“We will be continuing our fundraising and are planning one big fundraising event in the future. Meanwhile, it would be great if building companies were able to donate stuff in kind that we could use to carry out the refit, and when the community café is open we could give those companies recognition, perhaps in the form of plaque.
“We’d also love to hear from any businesses that can provide beds, fridges and freezers for the supported living accommodation.”
South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck, a staunch supporter of Hospitality and Hope, was on hand when John Duncan handed over the keys to the former pet shop recently.
Also in attendance was the Mayor of South Tyneside, Coun Fay Cunningham, who said: “In these difficult economic times, Hospitality and Hope provide a much-needed service for South Tyneside communities.
“It is sad to see so many people living in crisis, but it is heartening to see the level of support offered by volunteers and partner organisations who are committed to helping others.”
Thanks have been passed on to the charity’s patron, Sir David Chapman, for his support.
If you can help the charity, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org