A BROMSGROVE charity celebrated its tenth anniversary last Friday (June 10) with a get-together attended by more than 50 people who had been involved with the organisation over the last decade.
NewStarts, which refurbishes furniture and provides items for people moving into new homes or facing financial crisis, is based at 1 Sherwood Road, but when it began ten years ago it was from small beginnings.
It was started by Andy Godwin, Margaret Richards and Ian Axelson from NewSong Community Church.
Andy had received some theatre tickets which had been sent to the wrong address. He managed to track down the person they were meant for and they got talking and it transpired there was a need to help people in the area moving into accommodation who did not have anything to furnish their new homes.
At the same time, NewSong Community Church also wanted to become more involved with the community and do more positive and proactive things to help residents who lived locally.
Collections of everyday and household items began so those moving into their new homes could be given the essentails they needed to make life that little bit easier.
Back then, NewStarts did not have its own premises and garages were used in Sidemoor to store the donated items.
The organisation then took over an old carpet shop in Willow Road and stayed there until four years ago when it moved to its current base and last year a mortgage was agreed so NewStarts could buy its building outright, securing its long-term future and not be subject to any rises in rent that may arise.
When it started, NewStarts had ten volunteers a year but that has now gone up to over 100-a-year with placements from the JobCentre Plus, Probation Service, Youth Offending Service, young people doing their Duke of Edinburgh award and people who have been helped by the charity wanting to give something back.
The number of people helped is also staggering. In the last ten years, 3,500 households have received free furniture, 25,000 have benefited from discounted furniture and 2,500 have been given emergency food. And with an average of two or three people per household, that means NewStarts has helped between 30,000 and 60,000 people in its first ten years.
Marion said in her speech last Friday: “It has been ten great years and we are so grateful for everyone’s support.
“Without them, NewStarts doesn’t exist.”
Chariman Nicola Martin said: “It’s still a furniture project, it’s a people project and it’s a faith project.
“With something like this you need faith and vision to see what needs to be done and what can be achieved.”
MP Sajid Javid presented Andy with a celebration glass and Margaret with a vase.
Mr Javid thanked Andy and Margaret and said: “NewStarts has transformed so many lives and deserves to be celebrated.”
As well as celebrating the first decade of NewStarts, the charity also used the occasion to unveil some future plans.
Extensions are planned to construct a wider glass-fronted entrance to make the premises more welcoming and accessible for disabled people and the size and capacity of the kitchen and storage area will also be increased. All that will depend on funding but bosses at NewStarts hope work will begin later this year.
The charity is also hoping to open a South West Birmingham NewStarts by working with local groups and Frankley Parish Council. It is looking for a premises similar to the one on Sherwood Road and the scheme will also provide more volunteering opportunities.
Anyone wanting to find out more about NewStarts or anyone wanting to help the charity can visit http://www.newstarts.org.uk/ or by calling 01527 882410.