“Can I tell you this... Most of my life, I've felt of no value - treated like it and believed it. The kindness I've had shown to me through you has been hard to accept, feeling I owe something and don't deserve such loveliness. But as time has gone by, I realise that this is totally genuine and that someone does care and thinks of us. Financially these gifts are amazing but honestly, mentally, it's on an even much higher scale.”

“I recently found myself and my family in exceptionally difficult circumstances. We had to move house with very little notice as our landlord of 10yrs passed away. We moved to a completely different area where we know no-one, had to change schools and my husband at this point had already lost his income for over 5 months due to the Covid lockdown. He is self-employed with a Ltd. company, as such we had no entitlement to any of the government financial assistance; yet still had all our bills to pay and kids to feed. But, we somehow managed, despite all the odds being against us.

My son who has additional needs and suffers with his mental health took it all very badly. He is now in a specialised setting for vulnerable learners.

After all the expenses of moving house and having to find a deposit and taking on rent which was over £200 a month more expensive, we found ourselves in severe hardship. We had little choice of where to go as this happened during the first lockdown. I saw a post shared on social media of the Covid19 mutual aid group. I wondered for a while about reaching out as I felt so embarrassed, but I'm so glad I did. All of the staff and volunteers have been nothing short of saviours to me and I honestly don't know how I would have coped otherwise. With zero judgement, exceptional understanding and nothing but kindness, I was very quickly helped both practically and emotionally. We were sent clothes for my daughter after she had a growth spurt. We were helped with food, cleaning products and toiletries. We have also been lucky enough to benefit from an amazing day out, which was much needed and appreciated by all of us.

My husband when working lives away from home, I do not have any family, so it is just myself and my kids; I felt such a failure and very isolated. The group have been a safe and encouraging place for me to speak in safety and understanding. I do struggle with what we have been through and the after effect which still remains; I do have physical and mental health struggles, but I am safe in the knowledge that people really do care..

They are life's true angels.”

“Just wanted to say thank you for starting all of this, it is a new adventure for me. It's been a long time since I've had the confidence to be part of a team again and now I am. Thanks for all of your guidance and wise words. You're a gem.”

“In the height of the pandemic, I found myself as a single parent of four children all under the age of 6. I was really struggling to keep up with clothing and shoes for my children as, after my bills were paid, I found I couldn't scrape together any money to buy them. Normally, I would be able to get some by looking in charity shops. But, due to the lockdown, nothing was available.

I found a lovely lady who ran a Facebook group called Support and Grow NE. At first, I was hesitant as I was worried about being judged. But, I reached out and asked for some support. From the minute I asked for the support, they had offered me clothes, food, shoes, curtains for my home, and they were really, really friendly. They never once judged me and had the attitude of “if I can help, I definitely will”. Everything I had asked for and more was delivered within a few days, the quality of the items were outstanding, none of it was dirty or damaged.

From then on, my worries vanished. My children then had the clothes they needed and the shoes, and I was able to use everything she offered to me to make our lives better going forward. I always had food available for them and if I didn't, I knew I was able to ask for the help with food.

I can honestly say I would be stuck in a really hard situation of going into debt to try and buy my children what they needed if it wasn't down to Support and Grow. They have been fantastic with me and I now know, and still do, that if I need anything they are just a message away. They are always friendly and polite and it makes a huge difference. From one very, very happy parent, thank you so much for everything that you do and still continue to do for my family.”

“Sometimes, people don't realise how hard it is. Some people look at others on benefits and think they should have enough money for this or for that. But once all the bills are paid and everything is said and done, the money doesn't last.

You've got one child crying for shoes, another needing a new coat, the other needs new pants etc, and it honestly sends you into a panic. You try and think of all the ways you can possibly get the things you need, but it always comes down to; I can not pay this bill to buy some shoes, or not pay the electric to buy some clothes. Obviously, we both know that's counterproductive and you're only going to end up in debt and make the situation ten times worse.

So, when I found Support and Grow and I told them everything I needed, I honestly thought they're going to think I'm taking the mick and asking for all this stuff. Or, what if they say no, or something negative like that.

For them to say “yes I have that”, “yes I have this no problem, I'll get it sorted”, “do you need anything else?”, I can't describe how much of a relief that is. So now, when I'm in that same position of one needing shoes, one needing a coat etc, I don't panic anymore. I just think “right, I'll contact Support and Grow, I'm sure they'll be able to help”, and they always do.

So, thank you! You don't know how much you help out in the long run”

“I have had amazing support from Support and Grow, and everything they do. I have 2 young children and had to move because of mold and damp. But, when I moved into my new house, I had nothing because I lost everything due to the mold.

My children didn't have beds, wardrobes or drawers; they lost most of their clothes. And money has been so tight with trying to replace everything and the cost of living going up so much. I struggled with getting food in every week, but with Support and Grow's help, my children have beds, bedroom furniture and clothes.

They have helped with food every week as well and on the occasions where I couldn't collect, everything has been delivered to my home which has helped so much.

Without all the help and support, me and my children would still have nothing. I'm so grateful for everything.”

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