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Big Venture Centre receives a royal visit from The Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh

The Big Venture Centre, which is located on Chesterton Road in the ‘The Scotlands’ on Fallings Park, received a visit from The Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh to mark the incredible journey the organisation has been on over the past six years.

They met with kind-hearted volunteers and centre staff, who were able to paint a picture of how they are supporting thousands of local people with the cost-of-living crisis.

This has included providing 2800 youngsters with hot meals during the school holidays, helping 800 families with a Household Support Grant and training 188 people through a twice-weekly cooking class.

During their visit, The Duke and Duchess also toured the charity outlet that has been set up and the pioneering community shop that regularly serves 800 shoppers every month.

In a bid to battle rising prices, people can join as members for just £5 per year and will immediately receive a free bag of shopping and then the ability to buy food, toiletries, and other products at a much-reduced rate.

The aim is to ensure an average family of four can feed themselves for approximately £30 to £40 per week, with the initiatives benefitting from the support of Wolverhampton City Council, Wolves Foundation, His Church and donations of surplus items from Sainsbury’s, Marks & Spencer, Aldi and Lidl.

Karen Trainer MBE, Manager at Big Venture Centre, was delighted with how the visit went:

“We can see the difference we are making to people’s lives every day and it was a great honour to show The Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh what we do on the ground.

“They were very interested in the mix of services we provide and the fact they are all delivered by locals, who are volunteering their time to support the community in which they live.

“We showed them the shops and, importantly, they had the opportunity to meet a couple of individuals who take part in our cooking classes and have benefitted from our WV10 Cookbook.”

The royal visit also gave Karen Trainer a very special personal moment when she was presented her MBE by the Lord-Lieutenant in a short ceremony.

Announced in The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Honours list, the award highlighted the Black Country lady’s commitment to delivering community services and how she has led her team in creating one of the most important organisations in Wolverhampton.

“It really was the perfect day for me. I never thought I’d have MBE after my name, and it was great that my official presentation took place in front of all the people that matter to me.

“The hard work doesn’t stop there. My attention now is on getting our plans for the extension and the new build approved and then the hard work of finding the money to make it a reality.”

Big Venture Centre, which received The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service in 2021, has come a long way since its launch in 2017 and has gone from strength to strength after becoming part of the WV10 Consortium, an umbrella organisation that aims to empower small, grassroots volunteer-led community groups.

Being part of this model enables local people to be key decision makers and leverage investment in their areas so that essential services can be delivered where they are needed most.

WV10 Consortium’s Louisa Edwards added her support: “This was such a special day for Karen and the volunteers that make Big Venture Centre so special and such an important vehicle for delivering essential local services.

“The Duke and Duchess spent plenty of time with people and understanding the challenges we face and how the centre is helping local people to overcome them. It was a visit that was richly deserved and will last long in the memory.”

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The Duchess of Edinburgh takes part in cooking classes at Big Venture Centre

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