Picture shows, left to right: Rachel Thomson (Community Centre Manager), Cllr Geoff Brodie (Hon. Treasurer) and Laura Byrne (Chair of Trustees).
In February 2019, Pan Together’s trustees were successful in receiving substantial grant funding from the National Lottery Community Fund, which allowed us to employ a full-time Community Centre Manager, Rachel Thomson, who took up post in June 2019. Working with a range of partners, the primary focus of her role is to build the resilience of the centre and the charity by:
- developing the already vibrant centre’s role at the heart of the community to new levels; and
- helping to secure its on-going and future success as a community hub to best support more and different local residents of all ages and abilities.
In June 2022 as part of the Platinum Jubilee celebrations, Pan Together was awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service (QAVS). This is the highest award a voluntary organisation can achieve in the UK and is the organisational equivalent of an MBE.
In May 2022, the Earl and Countess of Wessex visited the community centre to recognise the valuable contribution which the charity made during the coronavirus emergency with the delivery of its lifeline support services.
Since June 2019, our capacity to deliver is demonstrated by the significant number of successful funding applications, each of which has been dependent upon rigorous monitoring and reporting.
Non-COVID funders: ASDA Foundation; Action Hampshire; Arnold Clark Community Fund; Artswork; British Science Association; Daisie Rich Foundation; Fidelity International; Garnett Foundation; Hampshire & Isle of Wight Community Fund (various); Healthwatch IW; Isle of Wight Council (various); Isle of Wight Foundation; Isle of Wight High Sheriff’s Trust; Newport and Carisbrooke Community Council (various); Sovereign (housing association) (various); and Tesco Community Grants.
COVID funders: ASDA Foundation; Charities’ Aid Foundation Resilience Fund; Hampshire & Isle of Wight Community Fund; Isle of Wight Council (various); Isle of Wight Foundation; Neighbourly; National Lottery Community Fund (two additional grants); Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner; Southern Co-op; Sovereign; Tesco Bags of Help; TK Maxx & Homesense Foundation; and Vinci UK Foundation.
Unsolicited donations from a wider range of individuals and businesses are further testament to the respect which is afforded to Pan Together locally. Further recognition comes in the form of the high volumes of news cuttings secured.
Cost of Living Crisis quotes from families in hardship – 2022
In these most difficult times, we are providing referrals to the local foodbank for local residents in hardship and, on occasion, we provide families with crisis supermarket vouchers. Here’s what some of the beneficiaries told us.
1. From a Mum of three primary-aged boys:
“Having kindly and most generously been given help and a voucher towards food in my forever hungry boys’ tummies, it’s been a huge help and relief as my husband’s hours and wage have reduced and made worse by no overtime available to help. And now the cost of living is a massive scare for us as a family but this help took some stress and worry away.
“When the trolley [with donated ingredients asking people to help themselves] is outside the centre, I often check to see what we can collect to help and I’m beyond grateful x”.
2. From a Mum with a teenage boy:
“After Christmas, my son’s birthday, coming down with COVID and energy bills rising ridiculously, my family was left completely skint with nothing for 10 days. So knowing there was help from Pan Together was a god send. The £50 voucher I was kindly given filled my cupboards, gas and electric for a week till I got back on my feet. I am honestly so grateful. I don’t know what I would of done without it. Thank you”.
3. From a Mum with a seven-year-old:
“After struggling financially since being moved over to universal credit and also the high increase to bills, I found myself struggling to afford to feed my family. With my son having bad allergies to a lot of foods, it’s not easy for us to access a foodbank. I also struggle massively with social anxiety.
“After being provided with a food voucher for the supermarket, not only did it help massively it took a huge weight off my shoulders. It helped my anxiety as well knowing I was able to get stuff and feel normal doing so.
“As a parent, you should never feel like you can’t afford to feed your family. I will be forever greatful [sic] to have this available to me and I’m so thankful for now and any future need of these vouchers”.
4. From the same Mum:
“It’s so difficult sometimes. Things just keep getting worse and worse and now with the cost of gas and electric rocketing, we just don’t know how we are supposed to do it. Don’t get me wrong. We get by barely. It’s just very hard. I’m pretty good at cooking on a budget. I think that’s why I always survive somehow anyway”.
5. From a lone parent of three:
“I’ve found myself in financial difficulties coping as a single mum and money doesn’t always stretch. My electric and gas have risen due to drying five people’s clothes in a dryer. And kids needing shoes etc. all the time as growing 13, six and two year olds. My dryer just broke a couple of weeks back so had to repair and my dad is only on a pension and unwell himself so can’t support me financially and is good enough to let me live here cheaply.
“So sometimes I just can’t make it through the month. I received a voucher from Pan Together at the beginning of March for Asda. I was very lucky and surprised to receive £50. Which was a massive help to me to get some food for me and my children and a few treats for my son’s sixth birthday which made it special for him. I was extremely grateful ”.
6. From a mum of three primary-aged children, all of whom have special educational needs:
“I received an Asda voucher from the community centre recently and it really helped. I am on a very low income and my ex-husband stopped paying child maintenance suddenly and I didn’t know until the day it was due in and it never arrived. I had budgeted in this money and it not going in left us struggling.
“The voucher meant that I could do a food shop to feed my three young children until I was paid. This not only helped financially but also helped to ease the emotional anxiety and stress of worrying how I would get the things we needed for the week”.
7. From a mum with two teenagers and one nursery-aged child:
“I just wanted to send you a text to say thank you for the kind and very generous Asda voucher I received from Pan Together today. I’ve never asked for help before as I find it extremely embarrassing but was getting so desperate I actually thought about stealing food to feed my kids [crying face emoji].
“I just don’t know how people are going to cope in the near future. Just this past four days I have gone through £12 gas, that’s without electric, bills, food, rent and the ever growing council tax [worried face emoji].
“Thank you Pan Together and the kind ladies Laura and Rachel for continuing to support and reassure the least fortunate. I have now been referred to the relevant people to help with my fuel bills and try and get back on top again. Thank you again. Ladies, you amaze me. No questions, no judgement, no pressure just pure love and support. I can only imagine where I would be now if I didn’t have you to turn to [crying face emoji]. Xxx”.
8. From a mum with two nursery-aged children:
‘Thank you so much for my vouchers [one e-voucher for the food bank for three days of non-perishable food and one crisis supermarket voucher]. They’ve made the world of difference and save me the embarrassment of not being able to provide for my family at difficult times. Thank you SOO much. Xxxx’
Lifeline support service testimonials – March 2020 to November 2021
Pan Together’s trustees took the swift decision to close the community centre to visitors on 17th March 2020 in the wake of the coronavirus emergency but the charity supported vulnerable and isolated people – predominantly within Pan, Pan Meadows and Barton in East Newport – with lifeline support services.
In the 19+ months from 18th March 2020 to 5th November 2021, volunteers and staff helped local people in over 5,300 different ways from no-cost children’s lunches for families on the cusp of eligibility for free school meals to home-delivered meals for vulnerable adults; from rounds of essential shopping to prescription collections and deliveries.
Here’s what some of the beneficiaries told us.
1. “The team at the community centre provided us with a lifeline during the pandemic. After both my partner and I were out of work, they provided hot meals every single day for my two children, which took major financial pressure away knowing my children could be fed until we could figure out what would happen next. Like many of us, we were scared and unsure of what was going to happen, but they were always there, with donations of things to entertain the children and help with school work.
“Now we have come out the other side, I have become good friends with them and so have my family. I will always do what I can to now return the favour to them and the Pan community centre”.
2. “These wonderful people have been most kind and generous to my family throughout COVID and fed us wonderful hot meals and were always so wonderful when delivering to my home with beautiful smiles. They also made the effort to check on any special dietary requirements and what foods my boys will eat and then gone beyond to cater for my sons.
“We have been through a hard time financially due to work hours and pay cuts, so their help has been a huge help to us. I’ve been beyond grateful for all the love and support received and I believe they deserve five stars”.
3. “As someone living alone with a severe visual impairment, being able to maintain some of the most basic tasks has proved something of a challenge given the restrictions imposed by Coronavirus on activities like food shopping and meal preparation. Thankfully, having been told by a third party about the things Pan Together was being set up to offer to local residents with an identifiable need, I soon found that the shopping runs and hot meal delivery service meant the gaps I feared would compromise my way of life were more than being met.
“It is reassuring to know that Rachel and her colleagues are just a phone call or email message away, and the flexibility of the services being offered is simply phenomenal. A big thank-you to you all”.
4. “Pan Together has really been a godsend to my family. In the first lockdown I had to shield for the first three months as a single parent in a first floor flat with no garden and three children who all have disabilities. I have no family who could help and I was one of the many staff at my place of work who were able to stay at home.
“They delivered hot meals for my children during the week at lunchtime. These were amazing and so very helpful. One of my sons requires one-to-one support and care and this, alongside home schooling two other children and keeping the house running, was very stressful. That one meal a day for them helped so much”.
5. “I just wanted to thank you all SO very much for the selfless and generous community support you are providing to my Mum during this hugely difficult time for us all.
“I was visiting Mum a few weeks before ‘lockdown’ was announced. I am so thankful I had this precious time with her and equally thankful I found you, Pan Together. Without you, as heart-breaking as it was to leave Mum (I live 300 miles away), you, Rachel, eased my mind. I was brought up on Pan Estate back in the 1970s and the sense of community has always been strong. I always took this for granted until my travels took me to other communities that unfortunately lacked this.
“Mum is so very appreciative of the hot meals, phone calls and having her medication collected and delivered to her. I speak to her every day and she speaks very highly of you and the two girls who cook the meals. Thank you for making such a huge difference”.