Thank you all for your messages of support and offers of donation, and a massive welcome to all our new followers :) We’re humbled by the huge audience you’ve all given us by sharing our post offering free kids’ meals, we certainly weren’t expecting such a diverse reach through so many channels, for something we’d considered second nature and a primitive offering. If you’ve not been to visit us before we’d love to meet you. You may have passed us many times and wondered what we do here. 13 years ago our charity founded its roots in a derelict council rent office in the middle of the “deprived area” of Highfields. We turned it into an advice hub and place of community spirit, welcoming anyone who needed our support, guidance, or just a friendly ear. Our mission was (and still is) to support and advise any visitor on whatever personal issue they may bring, and should it beat our expertise, we’ll know exactly the person or organisation to refer them to. Signposts was born as a charity, and the Signpost Centre opened its doors as a community cafe. As we’ve grown and become involved over the years, we have constantly adapted to local need, and the skills, experience, and understanding of our advice workers have resulted in some real achievements, not only in individuals, through finding employment, or training, or repairing family conflicts or financial issues, but also to fellow charities and community groups, by providing them equipment, publicity, partnership and mentoring, or simply a working space to create relationships for their own causes. Over time we’ve needed to add new services to our portfolio because of demand, and changes to the benefit system, and we’ve also had to lose a few services through lack of funding or manpower. We’ve seen a myriad of circumstances and situations, and tried to keep ahead of the game with anything which threatened longevity. To elaborate, our foodbank for example, which was initially a casual, modest arrangement, is now among our most sought after services. We’ve tried to keep up as best as we can, and our staff are busy each week behind the scenes collecting food donations from local outlets, but sometimes it’s still not enough, and in addition there are things we’d love to provide which we simply can’t afford to offer. Another common concern is the government’s move from paper to online, and confusion and tightening of criteria in the benefits applications process. It has brought with it a surge in poverty, and a new generation of clientelle, perplexed claimants of all ages, who aren’t familiar with the internet, and yet are being thrust with little choice into a world of technology which is bewildering and frustrating to them. At the same time we also see a widespread lack of sympathy from those benefits agencies, and charities like ours filling those resulting recursive gaps in support. Consequently, what started out as a solitary laptop has now become our 9 terminal internet cafe, which is free to use. We also have a dedicated voluntary tech team, committed to helping local people get online here, or in their homes, or at other community spaces. We’re not all about worst case scenario intervention though, we also organise regular events which we feel our community would benefit from, whether that be a group or a course to allow a person to advance their skill set and knowledge (or to simply feel included), or perhaps through accommodating local professionals who wish to share their own expertise for free. If it doesn’t cost us anything, it won’t cost you anything. We have a team of volunteers who are the nuts to our bolts and our hats go off to them daily. Some of those have come from initially being a visitor, and others have gone on from being casual volunteers to become part of our furniture. They keep our reception, kitchen, maintenance and logistics in order, and we reward them with free refreshments, paid travel, accredited training, and a DBS or reference for prospective employers in certain circumstances. Many would comment that once you’ve spent time in our bubble it becomes impossible to leave as the sense of giving back can be overwhelmingly magnetic :) We’re indebted to them all, from the dedicated perfectionist who picks up the litter and trims the weeds, all the way up to the vastly qualified and highly experienced financial guru who gives up his time to keep our grants in order, so that our lights stay on and the hob stays hot. And of course, everyone inbetween. So how can you help? Well, we depend on donations, so you can always feel free to drop in anything material you think we could repurpose ourselves or pass on to anyone else who perhaps needs it more. We always welcome financial donation, the quickest way from this angle is to hit the “Donate” tab right here on our facebook page, or call in to the centre and pop a copper in our donations tin. You can also opt to use Facebook’s “Fundraiser” system which allows you to create your own campaigns on our behalf, for example asking friends to donate to us on your birthday instead of buying you gifts, here’s the link: Maybe you’d like to consider volunteering for us, you might have skills we can harness and nurture and provide an outlet, or you may be looking for an escape from your norm. If not, you are always welcome just to join us for breakfast, or a quick brew, a nosey and a chat sometime. But, even if you have nothing to give you can still be a part of our growing online family, by simply sharing our posts and events to raise awareness of the things we do here. It’s your efforts that allow us to gain such a pervasive reach and a broader support and fellowship network. Public support is crucial to our mission and propagating our online presence is a simple way of helping us gain and maintain just that. Thanks so much for reading this. Thanks so much for your support. Liz-Liz-Jane-Neil-Ashley-Gary

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