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HOPE Nottingham has built a reputation for working hard for the needy in the city. Among the services at its Hope House base is an employability scheme to help people find work and courses on literacy and IT skills. HOPE has also become Nottingham’s biggest provider of foodbanks. But during the Coronavirus pandemic, the team, led by the director of HOPE Nottingham Nigel Adams, has upped its game massively. It is now co-ordinating the work of seven foodbanks across the city and getting food to more than 1,000 people a week. More than 60 churches of all sizes and traditions are involved. And HOPE Nottingham has become an important contact for local councils as they support communities during the crisis.

HOPE’s executive director Roy Crowne says, ‘HOPE Nottingham is an amazing example of churches working together. The impact is much more than the sum of the individual parts, and partnership with the local councils is possible because the united church effort has such significant credibility.’

HOPE Nottingham was established in 2010 and was soon involved in running foodbanks. It was one of several organisations providing them across Nottingham. But the lockdown meant a re-think was needed and fast.

‘The moment we saw we were going into lockdown I knew from my experience we had to move from our normal model of people coming to get food parcels,’ recalls Nigel. ‘We had to move over to delivery as fast as possible.’ HOPE Nottingham immediately stopped its other work to focus on foodbank delivery and Nigel began contacting others around the city to plan what to do. 

‘I just stuck my neck out and went for it,’ he says. ‘My style is to connect people together and get each doing their own bit and once it is all up and running, I get out of the way and leave them to get on with it. One of the amazing things is everybody has come together… we found a way forward together.

‘Pretty much everybody has been willing to work together, which has been a huge encouragement. Once or twice I have rung people up and asked what feels to me like massive favours and they have come back and said “Yeah, we can do that”.’

HOPE’s track record and the fact it had a staff team as well as volunteers meant it had the credibility to take a lead and co-ordinate the response. The system was quickly streamlined. The number of separate Foodbanks was cut to seven and the city was carved up so that each Foodbank took an area of responsibility. A typical example of co-operation between different churches was the willingness of Trent Vineyard Church to offer their large building to store food and their logistics skills to distribute it to smaller hubs, including Hope House. The HOPE team is delivering food parcels to between 500 and 600 people a week in west Nottingham and Broxtowe. It is also filling gaps where other Foodbanks can’t reach. 

HOPE would normally feed about 2,000 people a year. It has fed that number in the past month alone. But Nigel wants to do more. His next plan is to look at how to connect with those people who are alone at home. That might start with a note in each food parcel with a telephone number to call if help is needed.

 ‘By the grace of God I think HOPE Nottingham is well-known as a Christian charity around the city – so the message about faith is there straight away,’ Nigel says. ‘On a personal level I want to use the food parcel delivery in a very appropriate, gentle way to give people the opportunity to get in touch, for whatever kind of support.’

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