The Stoke Traders and Residents Association (STARS) received £10,000 from the National Lottery Community Fund and the Government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport from their Covid Response Fund in August 2020.

We spent it as follows:

Items Budgeted Expenditure Upcoming Expenditure Remaining
Total National Lottery Covid Fund £ 10,000.00 9650.33 £30.00 £319.67
Expenditure Reallocation £ – £0.00 £0.00 £0.00
National Lottery Covid Fund £ 10,000.00 £9,650.33 £30.00 £319.67
2x Community developer lead £ 3,600.00 £3,592.64 £0.00 £0.00
Rent, utilities, wifi, insurance (and building costs) £ 3,600.00 £3,600.00 £0.00 £0.00
Website/tech/social media/online marketing £ 1,000.00 £961.79 £30.00 £0.00
Newsletter £ 200.00 £200.00 £0.00 £0.00
Advertising £ 200.00 £200.00 £0.00 £0.00
Volunteer expenses £ 700.00 £472.18 £0.00 £227.82
Furniture & office equipment £ 700.00 £623.72 £0.00 £76.28
Under-expenditure Reallocation £15.57 £0.00 £0.00 £15.57

A chunk of this funding (£3592.64) was to pay for hours worked in community development. Karen Pilkington received 50% of this and the remainder was split between Jade Ward and Diane Flynn. Jade discovered in October that she had been selected to begin a PhD and did not have the time she anticipated to be fully involved in the project, so brought in Diane.

Jade, Diane and Karen moved into a derelict building at 67 Devonport Road, Stoke, in the first week of September and opened it as a drop in 5 days a week from 9am to 3pm despite its lack of amenities.

Another chunk of the funding (£3600) had been set aside for rent, insurance, wifi and utilities. Partly because the building required such extensive repairs, and partly because of his generosity, the landlord, John Peters, allowed us a rent free period until January 2022. We used the funding to pay for the electric (once we finally got the electrics made safe and turned on!) and public liability insurance. After cleaning the building with the support of many volunteers of five years of rubbish and part building works left by the old tenants, we then began a long period of refurbishment in lieu of rent, again using volunteers where possible not just to keep costs down, but also to include as many local people as possible. We did pay some professional contractors whose skills we needed – S Trott Electrical Services, local builder Matt Renshaw and Theo Sykes who has helped us with plumbing. We replastered severely damaged walls and repaired a ceiling that had fallen down. We had a new disabled toilet and sink installed, and installed a small kitchen area.

   

We bought second hand furniture, shelving to store food for a community larder, desks for some computers, curtain poles, lights, decorations, outdoor bins, a tablet to record our activity, locks and extra keys, cleaning materials, safety signs and fire equipment, and shed loads of hand sanitiser. We budgeted £700 for all these items. Total cost to date £623.72.

We also had some amazing gifts in kind from local businesses and people. Dan Russell of Mail2Send provided us with a free website and hosting and has paid initially for our wifi. Dan was also the original tenant of the building and it is through his generosity that we were able to move into the space in the first place. Alan Porter of The Will Centre used his significant charms to get us a free double glazed window to replace a very damaged single glazed window and sill, installed by Sunrise Windows. Local artist Sue Newbury has transformed the space with her murals “as a gift for bringing The Hub to Stoke.” “It’s just what the area needed” she said. We were also gifted with 2 old but working computers from Age UK, curtains, a table we found in the street, and a huge bag of tea and coffee as a Christmas present from our near neighbours,Simon and Nancy.

We paid £420.00 to Diverse Events CIC to support us with social media content and technical support. Diverse Events CIC has helped STARS build up the Summer Fun Days over the last four years, and has been indispensable at creating digital processes to manage our volunteers, keep our accounts straight, and ensure we have policies and procedures in place. They have also created systems on our website to collect donations and payment for the organic veg that we bring into the area from a local supplier. We have also spent £571.79 on online costs for our website subscriptions, and technology equipment.

We paid £466 to local printers Moorprint to produce a 12 page newsletter which highlighted everything that had been done so far (November 2020) and delivered it by hand, again through a team of volunteers to promote the fact that we were available to the local community during the second lock down to continue our help with picking up subscriptions, collecting food and running errands for local people. You can view an online version on a seperate blog post.

We used our advertising budget to spend a bit more to create our newsletter to look like an A5 Christmas Card so people could keep it on their shelf for longer and provide some Christmas hope and cheer to our local residents.

Although the phone line did not ring as often as it did in the first lockdown, we have kept up and built some lovely relationships with some very vulnerable members of our community who have been shielding throughout the pandemic. We regularly visit Marie, Richard and Teresa, Margaret, David, Janet, and Lesley and enjoy their company as much as (hopefully) they do ours.

We have, however, used our growing number of volunteers (we grew from 15 to 43 active volunteers to date) to help us keep The Village Hub open during the 3rd lockdown when schools shutting severely affected the ability of Karen, Jade, and Diane to man The Hub alone. We have made links with the local Food Aid Network and currently are supplied by Fareshare to support a Community Larder of tinned and packaged food and surplus vegetables. Currently we have supported over 260 visits to the larder. We also struck up a partnership with Good Earth Growers, a local organic farmer who provides us with low-cost high-quality vegetables that we pass onto the local community. We distribute boxes of veg at cost and display loose veg on a pay as you feel honesty shelf outside our building. We recover 50% of the costs of the honesty shelf from local people and the balance is covered by a small food grant we received from Plymouth City Council.

Jade, Karen and Diane and other volunteers have been busy training as well. We have currently completed adult safeguarding training from Plymouth City Council, listening training from Plymouth Citizens Advice Bureau, Money Advice Training from Transforming Plymouth Together and the Just Finance Foundation, Supporting Volunteers training and how to create fun interactive zoom meetings from Plymouth Octopus Project and Food Hygiene Certification. More training has been planned to support us as community capacity builders and community leaders so that local people get the best us we can be.

We moved all our meetings online and have held seven open meetings so far, helping our community navigate online, get their tech in order and increase our reach.

We are now able to provide basic advice and signposting for a number of organisations and can help local people who are in debt, who have energy needs or need help with home improvements. We are also able to support people with filling in online forms and other digital needs and have conducted surveys for Digital Plymouth around local need for tech availability and know-how. We have also opened a book swop both inside The Hub and a box outside kindly supplied by Community Bookshare Box.

To date we have spent £472.18 on volunteer training costs and expenses and have left £227.82 which we are holding back for further training costs. We have been fortunate to access more free training during COVID than we had expected, but want to ensure that our volunteers can access further training as necessary. We have also held off from DBS checking as adult safeguarding deemed it unnecessary at the time, but this may change in the future.

In addition to all this we ran consultations with members of Stoke STARS to decide the way forward, and ultimately agreed that it would be best to set up a new organisation to run in partnership with STARS, allowing STARS to continue to run as an unincorporated community association. We consulted on the name and came to the group decision to call the new Community Benefit Society “The Village Hub”. Incorporating as a CBS (Community Benefit Society) in December 2020 means that we are able to attract members who can if they choose pay for membership. It also ensures that we are democratically controlled by all our members who get to choose our priorities, strategic direction and allows us in future to issue community shares should we want to invest in buildings owned by the Society. Our desire has always been for as many local people as possible to become more fully involved in decision making for our local area and we are excited about the many possibilities and future plans to work alongside Plymouth City Council and other stakeholders to make our community one for all of us to feel at home in.

STARS have done a beautiful job in parenting the CBS. The grant had gone into STARS bank account in August and the first batch of funds paid by cheque from that account. The balance was transferred across in early January when The Village Hub was able to open its own bank account, and monies spent from that date onwards have been paid directly from there.

Full breakdown of income & expenditure from the National Lottery COVID Fund

INCOME
Amount Payee Description Internal Category
£10,000.00 National Lottery COVID Community Fund Grant
£18.75 eBay Partial refund of hi-vis Assets
£103.20 Amazon Refund of printer Assets

 

EXPENDITURE
Amount Payee Description Internal Category
£275.00 George Mallafe Electrician – Initial testing Hub Improvement
£20.00 Travis Perkins Drain Cover Hub Improvement
£20.00 Sue Newbury Paint Events & Activities
£1,796.32 Karen Pilkington Community development hours Staffing
£8.13 Travis Perkins Outstanding balance for drain cover Hub Improvement
£85.00 Locksmith Changing locks Expenses
£898.16 Jade Ward Community development hours Staffing
£40.00 Stoke Second Hand Table and chairs Assets
£5.68 Cleaning products Expenses
£26.95 Plants Galore Repaid daffodil bulbs Park Improvements
£149.00 Matthew Renshaw Building materials Hub Improvement
£898.16 Diane Flynn Community development hours Staffing
£135.95 Building materials Hub Improvement
£141.52 Matt Renshaw Building work and Labour Hub Improvement
£240.00 Diverse Events Various IT support and social media Hire and Services
£13.20 Disabled toilet etc Hub Improvement
£200.00 Moorprint Ltd Printing of newsletter Advertising
£200.00 Moorprint Ltd Printing of newsletter Advertising
£66.63 Moorprint Ltd Printing of newsletter Advertising
£17.32 British Gas Electric Bill Utilities
£35.67 B&Q Building supplies Hub Improvement
£10.60 M&S Halloween pumpkins Events & Activities
£32.00 Wilkinson Cleaning products Expenses
£20.20 Wilkinson Cleaning products Expenses
£4.50 Flower Fayre Halloween pumpkins Events & Activities
£4.00 Tiger Halloween pumpkins Events & Activities
£12.14 Amazon Extension lead Assets
£29.99 PC World Smart TV marketing stick Advertising
£9.97 PC Word Hub Tablet Assets
£18.89 Amazon Hub Tablet Case Assets
£17.97 Cobblers & Keys 3x keys Expenses
£7.98 xmas decorations Events & Activities
£18.97 Les Walters painting expenses Hub Improvement
£1,542.00 S Trott Electrical Services repair of all electrics in hub Hub Improvement
£53.14 British Gas repay electric bills x 2 oct and nov Utilities
£13.67 Paint trays and paper Hub Improvement
£17.99 Amazon LED Window Lights Assets
£144.95 AC Direct 2x radiators Assets
£47.01 Theo Toilet builders Hub Improvement
£100.00 Theo Toilet builders Hub Improvement
£375.47 West Insure Insurance Insurance & Licences
£3.95 eBay HSE Posters Insurance & Licences
£99.00 AO Henry Hoover Assets
£28.96 Amazon Safe Assets
£103.20 Amazon Printer and Scanner Assets
£7.98 Amazon 2x A4 frames (for insurances) Insurance & Licences
£12.99 Amazon Long handle dustpan & brush Assets
£5.99 Amazon Small cash box Assets
£11.95 Amazon Drop safe Assets
£35.00 SSL SSL Certificate Advertising
£53.12 Stripe Website subscription options Advertising
£10.00 Facebook Office chair Assets
£53.00 Ikea Office desks Assets
£109.17 B&Q Coving & skirting Hub Improvement
£50.00 George Mallafre LED bulb reimbursement Hub Improvement
£99.91 British Gas Electric Bill Expenses
£48.75 eBay Hi-Vis Assets
£15.50 eBay 3x wet floor signs Assets
£3.55 Amazon Pens Stationary
£6.75 Amazon Plug for window Assets
£163.99 Amazon Keybox Assets
£16.99 Amazon Hand sanitizer Expenses
£97.43 Volunteer Expense Claim 14/01/2021 16:22:03 Volunteer Expenses
£19.21 Tool Station Coving adhesive Hub Improvement
£10.00 B&Q Door mat Hub Improvement
£100.00 Theo Kitchen building work Hub Improvement
£4.80 Volunteer Expense Claim 18/01/2021 12:09:45 Volunteer Expenses
£24.00 B&Q Coving Hub Improvement
£6.49 Volunteer Expense Claim 25/01/2021 12:08:30 Volunteer Expenses
£35.97 B&Q Curtain wood & brackets Hub Improvement
£15.00 Plymouth City Council Bins Hub Improvement
£19.08 Volunteer Expense Claim 27/01/2021 13:57:58 Volunteer Expenses
£4.00 Morrisons Bulbs Hub Improvement
£40.00 Argos Curtain rails Hub Improvement
£149.99 Amazon Printer Assets
£18.55 Volunteer Expense Claim 03/02/2021 16:30:12 Volunteer Expenses
£3.79 Amazon Mind the step sign Hub Improvement
£2.49 Amazon Back door key Hub Improvement
£90.12 Fire Detection Shop Fire extinguishers and alarms Assets
£57.01 Amazon IT Stuff Assets
£7.49 eBay A2 print for referrals Expenses
£5.62 Volunteer expense claim 17/02/2021 14:58:00 Volunteer Expenses
£30.00 Social Media Marketing Advertising
£180.00 Diverse Events CIC Social media marketing & IT support Advertising
£65.41 British Gas Electricity bill Utilities