Located in the very heart of East London, the Ascension Community Trust is an organisation with a deep-rooted knowledge of how to improve prospects for those living in the local area. The organisation and its people have become a driving force for positive change in the local community and is a recent recipient of a £20,000 grant from the Greggs Community Grants programme.
The Greggs Foundation recently visited the team at their community base in Ascension Church in East London to learn more about their goals and objectives as well as see some of their thriving community outreach sessions in action.
Read on to learn more about their work and impact in the local area.
Why was the Ascension Community Trust established?
The Ascension Community Trust was established in response to the pressing social and economic challenges faced by residents of East London. Recognising the need for a more holistic approach to community development, a group of dedicated individuals came together with a shared vision — to create an organisation that could address root causes of issues such as poverty, unemployment, and educational disparity.
The trust was founded on the belief that sustainable change requires a collaborative effort and they work across the key areas of relief of poverty and hardship; reducing loneliness and isolation; supporting physical and mental health and wellbeing; providing advice and advocacy work and finally education, training and employment support.
The trust's core focus areas have been chosen to address the multifaceted challenges faced by the East London community. Since the trust was registered as a charity in 2001, they have initiated a range of support programmes across these key pillars of support.
A big area of growth for us over the past three to four years has been food provision but this was largely driven by the impact of the Covid pandemic. We provided emergency relief services throughout the local area. While this is still a key part of what we do, we have also moved into complementary projects such as high-quality and affordable after-school childcare and vocational training programmes to help address issues of employment instability amongst the local population. We try to equip members of our community with the skills and knowledge they need for a brighter future and part of that is helping them access the resources they need to secure more sustainable employment. Community development is also a key part of this. The Greggs Community Grant funding helps us to deliver our community outreach programmes such as social events, neighborhood engagement programmes and other activities that help to foster greater social cohesion and strengthen the bonds that hold the community together.
Tom Booker, Ascension Trust Project Manager
From their base inside the Ascension church, the trust runs a regular after-school club to provide affordable childcare facilities to local children as part of their commitment to education and supporting working parents in the area. The trust also runs a food bank to assist families and individuals deal with the immediate impact of poverty on day-to-day life.
Greggs Community Grant funding
Funding from the Greggs Community Grant programme is key to helping the trust meet the core costs involved with running the organisation – and all derived from a share of the profits from the local Greggs Outlet. Unsold food from Greggs is distributed to one of over 30 Greggs Outlets across the UK to help reduce food waste. The products sold in the East London Greggs Outlet help with providing funding of up to £20,000 per year to individual organisations. This ensures that a share of profits generated in the local area is returned to charities improving the lives of the people who live there.
The community centre based at the Ascension Church is a busy hub, with arts and crafts groups, gardening clubs and other social engagement activities designed to address social isolation across different parts of the local community. It is just one of the many successful ways that Ascension Community Trust drives positive change through a range of community-driven initiatives.
Organisations like the Ascension Community Trust exemplify the force for positive change we look to support through Greggs Community Grant funding. Their range of initiatives are driven by a deep-rooted knowledge of the local area and focus on addressing the cause of the challenges facing local people. The staff and volunteers are making a strong impact in their local area and we are delighted to be supporting their work
Tracy Lynch, Greggs Foundation Manager