Inn Churches, Bradford

We had a wonderful time last week meeting, chatting and sharing food with the team at Inn Churches, Bradford. They have two sites: The Storehouse, which is their warehouse and offices, but we met them at Shaw House, close to the city centre, which is an old brewery that they are currently using rent free thanks to a local business.

Inn Churches aims to provide practical support to those that need it most across the Bradford District. They run winter night shelters in several churches in the city, as well as running Food Savers which is a social supermarket. In addition to these projects they aim to provide a holistic approach and encourage individuals to learn to cook cheaply and start a savings account through their social supermarket.

Ben (pictured below with his colleague Juli), who heads up their partnership with Acts 435 has been able to not only resource their own charity to help those who are coming to their night shelters, cooking classes or Food Savers Hub, but he has also helped to provide Acts 435 as a resource to many other referral agencies that are unable to partner with us directly. The referrers he connects with serve a much wider community than they are able at Inn Churches, which enables them to help more individuals and families with urgent items through Acts 435.

Ben has set up an efficient system for those who he knows to be meeting with individuals in need to send requests through to him to post onto the Acts 435 website. Ben says that he has a database of 53 referral agencies, and they must fill out an online form with all the information needed to process the request on their behalf.

This effective way of taking referrals has enabled Ben, and Inn Churches, to help over 500 individuals in over ten years of partnering with us. As one of our most active partners Inn Churches has recently become one of Key Partners, who spread the word about our work, and are enabled to post a higher amount of requests.

Acts 435 provides them with the ability to help those that are facing 'a gap', says Juli Thompson, Inn Churches CEO, who also said that they have never "given so many things away for free". She was speaking about their partnership with Acts 435, but also about other partnerships they have developed, such as the one with Kitty's Kits, who provide free bread making kits to charities. All of these partnerships enable them to help individuals with items that they couldn't otherwise afford.

One of those individuals they have been able to help is Levi* "who was working through the challenge of a mental health breakdown, substance use, and a dip in his self esteem. He is engaging with support workers to address his mindset, his looks and his attitude to his welfare and wellbeing. His washing machine was broken and, due to his low income, he couldn't afford to replace it. Levi does not have the confidence to go to a public laundry to get his clothes washed and dried, so he was having to wash them in the sink."

Acts 435 donors stepped in to help Levi with a washing machine so that he could look after himself, and help to improve his self-confidence. You can read more about his story, as well as his personal message of thanks to Acts 435 donors, here.

During our time with Inn Churches their heart for the community of Bradford and its residents was very evident. They were also very thankful to be resourced with Acts 435 to go the extra mile for those who are entering through their doors, but also further afield. The way they have taken on Acts 435 is their own unique way of utilising the resource, and might not be the solution for all partner churches and charities, but it enables Inn Churches to resource others and reach those in need more widely throughout Bradford, which is wonderful to see.