Storehouse (charity)

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The Storehouse is a name regularly used for compassion outreaches of Vineyard Churches in the United Kingdom and the US. The Storehouse Program in Southend-on-Sea, Essex, United Kingdom is a particularly successful operation in terms of the numbers who visit it regularly for access to free food, clothes and showers. These services are intended for people in hardship. Up to 20% of the service users registered with Storehouse in Southend are believed to be homeless.

The Southend-on-Sea Storehouse project is a project/ministry of Southend Vineyard, a church and registered charity.

Southend Vineyard, whose logo includes their stated aim of 'reaching out, changing lives' (the same mission of the Storehouse) initiated a Storehouse outreach program in 1995 on a shoe-string budget. By 2008 Southend Vineyard's Storehouse Program had stabilised and was based in a small shop on Station Road, Westcliff-on-Sea and served approximately 250 regulars. These people came to use the food services - food was given to people in need for no charge - the food was often donated (either close to sell-by date or just past this date) by Bakers Oven and Sainsbury's Southend.

In 2008/2009, Storehouse (Southend-on-Sea) moved from Station Road, Westcliff-on-Sea, to the former Coleman Street Community Centre, in Coleman Street, Southend, Essex. Southend Vineyard was given a 10 year lease to run its Storehouse program there, with the hope that the Storehouse could also reactivate the community centre which had been closed for some years before Southend Vineyard/Storehouse took up the tenancy.

Christmas Day 2008 saw the first community event, with doors open to Southend-on-Sea, especially those lonely, or in poverty or suffering addictions.

Since that day, the client base of the Storehouse has increased from 250 to over 5100 registered users (January 2013) demonstrating the effect of the recent recession on demand for free food bags. Storehouse (Southend-on-Sea) has also offered information and links to essential services and agencies for its service users, as well as informal learning opportunities, community meetings and surgeries. The Storehouse also provides a community cafe three days per week for those using the centre.

In 2011 the Storehouse began to deliver a personal development programme known as 'Starting Points' which was planned to promote self-esteem, build confidence, and improve life skills amongst the service user group. Starting Points it's funded through the National Lottery's Reaching Communities Program. Starting Points confidence courses and workshops run on a four weekly basis with a variety of activities including workshops, therapeutic gardening and volunteering within The Storehouse day centre.

2011 also saw the start of a new service called Family Storehouse. Delivered on Tuesdays, the new service was intended to help parents and young families who needed access to food, advice and essential services, but were considered unlikely to use the regular services because of concerns relating to the safeguarding of children. This service is now supported by Children's Centres and it incorporates a parent and toddler group.

In 2013 The Storehouse operates with 6 staff, Project Manager John Williams, Operations Manager Darryl Faulkner, Community Outreach Worker Gill Ioannis, Family Worker Paula Terris-Pennycott, Volunteer Development Worker Louise Harris, Community Training Worker Chris Saunders and Key Worker Louise Frood. The Storehouse is supported by a team of more than 50 volunteers.