Co-op cash gives Heart of Tamworth charity huge boost

Tamworth Co-op’s recently launched Cash in the Bag scheme has delivered a massive boost to a Catholic church-based charity which organises activities for the community at large.

Wendy Quinn, trustee of Heart of Tamworth charity, receives cheque for £5,000 from Julian Coles, chief executive of Tamworth Co-operative Society, and Audrey Higginson, chairman of Society's board.

Wendy Quinn (centre), trustee of the Heart of Tamworth charity, receives the cheque for £5,000 from Julian Coles, chief executive of Tamworth Co-operative Society, and Audrey Higginson, chairman of the Society’s board.

Heart of Tamworth (H.O.T.) has received £5,000 from the initiative, which will help create a drop-in town centre café and meeting place for local groups.

Plans are already afoot to host a bereavement support group and provide an intimate setting where people with dementia and their carers can share experiences with each other.

The money has come from a 5p charge on plastic shopping bags introduced by the Government in October 2015. The sale of carrier bags in Tamworth Co-operative Society stores has raised £20,000, all of which is being distributed to good causes. The Starfish Project in Tamworth has already been handed £5,000 from the pot, and the names of two other charities set to benefit will be announced soon.

Heart of Tamworth trustee Wendy Quinn said the ‘unexpected’ injection of funding would make a huge difference to the organisation as it prepares to expand its operations in the coming year.

“This is amazing and has brought a shudder to my voice. We already have a community hub at Sacred Heart Church in Glascote Heath which is used by various organisations for a range of activities, but we identified a need for a town centre place as well.

“We’ve had tremendous help from volunteers. Local companies have also given us materials at cost price, but this money will allow us to get the project finished and make it so much better.

“All I can say to the Tamworth Co-op is thank you so much – it will be put to good use.”

Parish priest Father Michael White inspired The Heart of Tamworth Community Project, urging his flock to look outwards and help those in need, regardless of their faith.

A group of people from St John’s Parish started the project in 2012, recognising they had two precious resources – the facilities of St John’s and Sacred Heart – and two congregations to serve as volunteers.

In 2014, H.O.T became a registered charity working with all age groups in the Tamworth area. The organisation runs an annual summer scheme for children. Last year dozens of youngsters took part in fun events such as clay modelling and making smoothies on a bike.

It also runs a youth group, distributes hampers to the needy and arranges numerous other activities including Irish dancing, tai chi and pilates classes.

Beyond this work, the charity supports other service providers by offering its facilities at affordable rates to groups such as Starfish, which lays on a weekly breakfast for people in need at Sacred Heart.

Slimming World and Alcoholics Anonymous also make use of the church’s large rooms, along with a bereavement support group.

Tamworth Co-op chief executive Julian Coles said: “The charity has achieved such a lot in a relatively short space of time. It reaches out to so many people in so many different ways. The board was very impressed with how Heart of Tamworth has gone about its mission.

“The money was raised by our customers and is going back to the community which is so rewarding to know.”