With the Indices of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) figures revealing that with a population of 11,650 people Athersley reports 42% of people with no qualifications, 36% of children living in poverty, 32% of people in full-time employment and 26% of people with long-term health problems, it is amongst the top 10% most deprived communities in the country. As such, it was identified as an area that could benefit from the Communities that Work programme.
This programme was created so that direct attention could be given to the areas that require immediate action. The process is to work with residents to pinpoint the challenges that the community is facing. The Trust then works to redirect resources, and where possible funds, to make a lasting and positive impact.
Engaging with residents and strategic partners, the Trust was able to create a package of relevant and targeted activities that were agreed and delivered. As part of this pipeline of activity, it was decided a Community Shop would meet with many of the challenges that had been identified.
Working closely with Community Shop in Athersley, the Trust was able to provide access to low-cost food for residents in receipt of benefits, while also creating a Success Plan to give those that are most vulnerable the support that they need to gain skills, qualifications and where possible employment.
Developing a good relationship with Barnsley Council, the Trust also managed the asset transfer of a building that would become a Community Shop. Providing the investment for the fixtures and fittings, the organisation also made it possible for additional services to be delivered from a community hub.
More than 650 people signed up as members at the Community Shop in Athersley in the first six months and the facility is still used to engage directly with residents who want to change their lives for the better. Two coordinators from the Coalfields Regeneration Trust work across Goldthorpe and Athersley to meet with the needs of the communities.
In addition to the employment initiative and Community Shops, Micro-grants were also launched to provide residents with the funds to create campaigns that they can take ownership of but more importantly that make a difference locally.