Arts Factory is a community organisation based in Ferndale, which aims to create life changing opportunities for people who feel excluded by society. The project is run with volunteers, the majority of who come from social services and are in low-income groups or on benefits. There are a variety of ways got them to get involved, meet new people and develop employability skills.
One of Arts Factory’s projects is their online bookstore. The store is entirely run by volunteers who organise the sale of the books, manage accounts and communicate within the team. This gives them an opportunity to develop their employability skills and meet new people.
Arts factory started with FareShare Cymru at the beginning of the first lockdown to provide support to their volunteers during the difficult time. They received a grant from FareShare which allowed them to create food parcels for their volunteers in a way that was economically sustainable for them. The partnership with FareShare increased their supply of ambient food which they were able to combine with the fresh food they were already receiving to make food parcels. They sold the food parcels at £7 which was well received by their volunteers who said it was ‘great value for money’ and allowed Arts Factory to cover their costs.
“We have had lots of really good feedback from the people who have had the food parcels. People are very grateful to have had the parcels and are more than happy with what they get in them. There have been absolutely no complaints regarding the content of the food parcels.”
“FareShare food parcels have made a massive impact to us and the people we support.”
The food parcels went a long way in helping people, allowing some volunteers to reduce their debts as they were not having to spend extra money on food. A lot of families with children also received the food parcels as they were struggling without the support of breakfast and after school clubs during the lockdown. Older people also benefitted hugely from the food parcels as many were isolating during the lockdown and found it much easier to get a parcel for £7 with everything they needed in it.
In the coming months Arts Factory want to get everyone back in for as many days as possible. The social aspect of Arts Factory is what makes a big difference to people’s mental health and the aim is to enable this as much as possible in the current circumstances. They are in the process of putting a plan together to get groups back and increase the number of spaces. The aim is to widen support to whoever wants to come as opposed to only those allocated to Arts Factory by social services.
“In the groups I have run in the last few weeks all people have wanted to do is talk and socialise. Before we would run a variety of different groups (singing, citizen’s advice, cheer-leading, Tai-Chi, nursery age play), but since the lockdown it seems people just want the social aspect.”
We are very proud to have supported Arts Factory through the pandemic to help them deliver the amazing support that they provide to people in the community.