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‘People have got a place to go’ - Charity founder discusses community work

PUBLISHED: 13:40 07 November 2018 | UPDATED: 08:39 09 November 2018

Michelle Frost, who co-founded the Jam Community Pot in Stowmarket Picture: MICHAEL STEWARD

Michelle Frost, who co-founded the Jam Community Pot in Stowmarket Picture: MICHAEL STEWARD

Archant

As this newspaper’s campaign with the East of England Co-op to celebrate our community heroes continues, Michelle Frost talks to us about the Jam Community Pot in Stowmarket.

We have teamed up with the East of England Co-op to launch a new Community Heroes campaign, focusing on the efforts of those making a real difference to people’s lives.

The next hero to be featured in this series is Michelle Frost, who founded the Jam Community Pot in Stowmarket, which helps elderly, isolated and vulnerable people in the area.

Why was the Jam Community Pot founded?

Mum-of-four Michelle Frost, 47, founded the organisation five years ago with friend Jill Roberts when she recognised a need for a service for isolated people on Christmas Day.

Michelle Frost, who co-founded the Jam Community Pot in Stowmarket Picture: MICHAEL STEWARDMichelle Frost, who co-founded the Jam Community Pot in Stowmarket Picture: MICHAEL STEWARD

“When my older two children were little, and they went to their dad’s at Christmas, I was by myself and that is awful.

“So spending Christmas by myself I thought, ‘what do I do?’. So years later I found out about Gatehouse’s [in Bury St Edmunds] Christmas lunch and did three years of volunteering there.

“But then I needed that little challenge of something else, and you can see from Gatehouse that there is a need and so we started up in Stowmarket.”

What does the Jam Community Pot do?

Jill Roberts and Michelle Frost were winners at the Stowmarket Town Awards last year Picture: JOE TAYLORJill Roberts and Michelle Frost were winners at the Stowmarket Town Awards last year Picture: JOE TAYLOR

“Christmas Day lunch is our biggie, this will be the fifth year,” Michelle said. “Coffee every Monday. The Monday Community Brew is 10.30am-12.30pm every Monday at the United Reformed Church in Stowmarket.

“We’ve just had an afternoon tea dance at the church, we’re off to Neil Sands at the [Stowmarket] Regal and we’re off to Panto.

“We had a trip to Bressingham for 1940s day, which was funded by the East of England Co-op’s token scheme.”

Who uses the Jam Community Pot’s services?

Michelle's work with the Jam Community Pot has been recognised Picture: ARCHANTMichelle's work with the Jam Community Pot has been recognised Picture: ARCHANT

“Isolated, lonely, elderly and vulnerable people,” Michelle said. “We have some homeless people on Christmas Day, but predominately they are older people who sadly have nowhere to go at Christmas.”

Volunteers

“I have a great group of volunteers that make Christmas possible with me,” Michelle said. “Mondays as well, we started the Monday Community Brew in February and two people attended.

“We’re now at about 40-45 and that’s phenomenal. After a weekend by themselves, people have got somewhere to go.

Jill Roberts and Michelle Frost at the Christmas dinner in 2015 Picture: GREGG BROWNJill Roberts and Michelle Frost at the Christmas dinner in 2015 Picture: GREGG BROWN

“We have such a laugh. I have four regular volunteers on a Monday but Christmas is about 20-30 volunteers.

“We have families who help which is great. Teenagers who are learning that Christmas isn’t all about sitting at home, having presents and eating all day.

“They are learning that there are people that are lonely and some people have absolutely nothing.”

Call for a chef

Michelle added that she is still looking for a head chef on Christmas Day to help with the special lunch.

“I have lots of volunteers and it will work without one,” she said. “But it would be great to have a head chef in charge of everything on the day.”

Anyone interested can call Michelle on 07810 456512.

As a community retailer, the East of England Co-op has supported thousands of organisations, charities and good causes over the years to help people do some truly amazing things.

Tell us about your community hero - email their details and up to 200 words about what they do to newsroom@archant.co.uk

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This is a list that Suffolk should be proud of - 100 women who are positive role models for future generations, women who have achieved success in a diverse range of fields from business, the arts, sport and education to the third sector.

The list was put together by a panel of judges this summer after we asked readers for their nominations.

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