In the heart of the Ragworth estate in Stockton, we run a Community Grocery in partnership with ‘The Message’, where for just £4 you can fill up your cupboards with everything you need to feed your family.

We asked our Community Grocery Manager, Andy, to update us on how things are going! This is what he said:

Our Community Grocery is now well established and we are seeing around 60 customers each day. While we offer an affordable food shop to anybody who stops by, our heart is to be much more than a shop. We are here for our community, to show them support and friendship and of course extend God’s heart of love.

Though we meet a few hundred people each week, a few people have impacted me recently. Let me tell you about them…

I got chatting to one of our regular customers the other day and just asked her ‘What does the Grocery mean to you?’ I was blown away as she started to tell me that her husband died recently, leaving her with two small children. Her response was simple “I can’t tell you what this place means to me”. As we chatted more about the emotional strains as well as the financial ones, I was able to offer her comfort and hope and offer to pray for her.

Another lady arrived soon after. She is always well dressed and her kids are well presented, getting out of their nice car – not what you would expect of the typical Grocery Customer – but as we chatted, she shared with me that her husband recently left her and money is tight as she struggles to provide for her children. It reminded us as a team to never be deceived by somebody’s appearance. The grocery keeps many different families afloat, swell as offering a listening ear and a friendly smile. this day had been particularly busy for us, and yet in that moment, the shop was strangely quiet and we really felt that God had carved out time for us to speak hope into her situation. I told her about my faith in God and spoke out what I believed God could do for her.

We find that day after day, people are really keen and want to hear more about God, the Gospel and Church.

We really love working together with our team of volunteers and often find that those who don’t yet know God are eager to be part of what we are doing. We recently prayed as a team for more food, as we were running low. One of our volunteers was blown away by how much God provided for us when we simply prayed and asked. He said “I’ve heard you praying but I just can’t believe how much food there is!”

Founded during the COVID19 pandemic, partner organisation The Message Trust developed the Grocery to help support families with the financial impact of the pandemic.

Through partnership with local supermarkets, the Community Grocery is able to offer a wide range of food for the whole family to choose from, at a fraction of the cost, meaning you can save money, help the environment and reduce food waste all in one.

But it’s not just about the food. There’s also a range of free extra support on offer at the grocery should you ever need it. Support like job clubs, money management support, healthy cooking classes and much more.

If you would like to be part of how God is impacting lives down at the Grocery – then here is how you can help…

  1. Buy a little extra – In a few weeks, we will be taking time out to celebrate thanksgiving/harvest as a Church. We will be collecting tinned goods when will all go to stock the Community Grocery. So, if you are able, why not add a few extra tins to your shop and bring it along? Together we can all make a big difference.
  2. Pray – keep praying for the team, for food provision and of course for our Community Grocery customers!
  3. Volunteer – Could you give a few hours a week to make a big difference to somebody? Get in touch today to find out more.