The Gingerbread Centre | Helping homeless and vulnerable families

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Helping families in need

The Gingerbread Centre, established in 1977, provides supported accommodation for homeless and vulnerable families in Stoke-on-Trent and the surrounding areas.

Almost 40 years ago the Gingerbread Centre started as a support group for lone parents but it soon became clear that there was a need for accommodation for members of the group, resulting in the first flat opening in a terraced house in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent.  Over the years the need for the Centre grew and so did the support they could offer.  Currently the Gingerbread Centre has two accommodation sites, Rothessay Court in Longton, providing 22 flats with 24 hour support for those in need.  Their second site, Catherine Court in Hanley, offers 24 hour support to pregnant and parenting children as well as 4 houses nearby for young families who are ready to the the next step towards independence.

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Fundraising matters

The Gingerbread Centre rely on donations from the public and local businesses of clothes, toys, food, nappies, bedding and other useful items to help the families they support.  As well as raising free donations through easyfundraising, Gingerbread hold fundraising events including sponsorship, a dinner dance, carol services, supermarket bag packs, auctions and are the “Charity of the Year” for a couple of local businesses.

Using easyfundraising The Gingerbread Centre have raised over £400 so far.  Michaela from Gingerbread told us;

We didn’t want to set a really large target that our supporters would find daunting.  So our first easyfundraising target is £500.  Once we have reached this, we will set a second.  We didn’t have a target originally, but since setting one our donations have increased.

The donations raised so far go in to a fund which is used when there’s something the centre really needs, such as cot bed or art and craft supplies for children’s activities.  Their latest buy from their easyfundraising donations includes a full set of parenting books to help the families at Gingerbread.

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Spreading the word

To get supporters signed up and donating to the Gingerbread Centre every time they shop online, they send out emails to all staff; with an update on how much they’ve raised, a reminder to use easyfundraising and details of offers and increased donations.  These emails promote offers relevant to the season; Christmas, summer holidays, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and Valentine’s Day.  Sending out regular emails has increased the number of supporters signing up to easyfundraising and has increased their total donations.

They’ve even changed their email signatures to include information about easyfundraising, seeing an increase in supporters and donations since putting this in place too!

To make sure their supporters don’t forget to shop, as well as their regular emails they include reminders in newsletters, social media posts on Facebook and Twitter and updates on the website.  The staff room has posters reminding everyone to use easyfundraising when they shop as well as updating on how much has been raised so far.

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Advice to other causes using easyfundraising

We asked Michaela what advice she’d give to other causes using easyfundraising;

The best advice I can give is, ‘if you don’t talk about it, no-one will know about it’.  You need to talk to everyone you possibly can, as much as you possibly can.

Download the posters and flyers from the easyfundraising website or create your own.  Hand flyers out at every event.  Keep your staff and supporters updated on how much you are raising.  Set yourself a target.  Get everyone to take part.  Remind everyone to keep using it on a regular basis.

The first thing you need to do, is to learn everything you can about easyfundraising.  The more you know, the more you can help your supporters.  I found that once I learned all about easyfundraising, it enabled me to write email signatures, social media posts, emails, articles for the annual review and much more without it being long winded and too wordy.  Knowing as much as you can means that you can explain the way it works and the benefits clearly and concisely.

You can donate to the Gingerbread Centre every time you shop online