The National Lottery-funded project that gave Kat a helping hand
In the summer of 2014, Kat Kempen ran out of money. The 50-year-old from Redcar in Yorkshire had lost her marital home in a divorce 4 years earlier and lived in a succession of rental properties.
Each time she began to feel settled the owner would sell up and Kat’s search for a home began all over again. She said, “I was homeless twice and forced to sofa surf while I waited for a new rental house to come along.”
Despite juggling several jobs ‐ cleaning, working in a shop and for the local council ‐ money was always tight. Then, in August 2014, it ran out entirely. Kat said, “I’d just moved again and I’d paid the rent and the bond upfront. I moved house on pay day and found I had nothing left in my account. My pride wouldn’t let me ask family and friends for more help. So I rang social services and they put me in touch with the local food bank.”
Kat walked to a local church where the food bank was located. When someone offered her a cup of tea her feelings overwhelmed her and she began to cry.
She said, “That was the moment my life changed. After a couple of weeks I offered to volunteer with the food bank. They’d just started a little cafe so I volunteered there. A little 6-hours-a-week job came up at the cafe so I took that. I sorted myself out and it’s just got better and better.”
The food bank and the cafe that changed Kat’s fortunes are both operated by Footprints in the Community (FITC), a National Lottery-funded project founded by Ruth Fox. When FITC opened a larger cafe on Redcar’s high street, Kat was an obvious choice to become its manager.
Kat is just one of the people given a helping hand by an organisation Ruth started “as a hobby”. Nowadays, FITC operates 9 food banks, 2 Next Step shops and The Shed ‐ a place where people can socialise as they work on woodwork projects. FITC, which has 18 staff and more than 200 volunteers, also recycles baby clothes and baby equipment and runs a dementia support group in the cafe once a week.
Kat is delighted to be helping a project that was there for her when she needed it most. She said, “I’m so loyal to them. They believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself.”
We have partnered with one of the most popular podcasts in the UK, ‘Sh**ged, Married, Annoyed’ (SMA), to shine a light on this fantastic National Lottery-funded project. The hosts of SMA, husband and wife comedy duo Chris and Rosie Ramsey, headed to Redcar to have a coffee with Ruth and find out more about FITC’s efforts to bring the local community together.
It’s thanks to National Lottery players that thousands of Good Causes across the UK like Footprints in the Community are able to bring people together and offer life-changing support ‐ not just at Christmas, but throughout the year.
Main image: Kat Kempen (L) and Ruth Fox (R)
23rd December 2022
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