A charity which started life by helping one Burton family in need of school uniforms has mushroomed - to assist 345 crisis cases in just a year.
One year on from becoming a registered charity, the founder of Burton's Love Inspire Foundation has revealed the inside story of the group's success helping families in need.
The Love Inspire Foundation was first set up by Monica Dunbar in June, 2015 when she was approached by a struggling family who were looking for advice on how to get school clothing for their three children.
Then the group went from strength to strength and even became a registered charity in January 2017.
Monica said: "It all started when a local family told me as I worked at Dattie's Soul Food in the Market Hall and asked whether I knew anywhere they could get some school uniform from, because they were struggling and new to the area, they had five children and the benefits hadn't come through yet.
"As I had worked at the YMCA for a while, I still knew my way and had a few links in the sector. Before I made any inquiries I put out a request on social media and see if anyone had any uniform for this family.
"I was hoping that I would get probably two or three sets of uniform, enough for the family; what actually happened was within two weeks we got hundreds. We were inundated with people calling up, coming into the market, professionals, and teachers all coming in praising the idea of helping people struggling.
"It came quite clear to me that it was becoming an issue, especially in the summer holidays, so we had all this uniform and that year we distributed 14 sets, so we helped 14 different children in 2015."
It was at this point Support Staffordshire, an organisation which helps individuals and other groups to improve their community in the county, offered support to the new charity.
According to Mrs Dunbar, she was told that there was not another charitable group offering the same help in the area. She said she believed dealing with issues in days, not weeks, helped to set them apart from others.
Following their success with school uniforms for families in need, the foundation soon began diversifying its service.
Mrs Dunbar added: "The school uniform scheme soon led to appealing for clothing helping people going for interviews and through social media we appealed for help.
"Again, the same thing happened and we were inundated with interview clothing, so we then got in touch with the Jobcentre and said that if they had people struggling to find interview clothing, to send them to us.
"We quickly started getting all donations, people started to gift lots of items. I think this was because they really could relate to the fact that people struggled with uniform and interview clothing. So the community right from the initial stages got behind us as a foundation.
"So, in January 2017, because the need of the community was being met, and it was so obvious that there was a real need and people were living in poverty and crisis, we registered the charity officially. So we're just coming up to a year now.
"In that time, the crisis prevention has expanded, we are the only free clothes bank in Burton where people can come to us. In August this year we provided 141 children with uniform free of charge, we have liaised with probably over 20 agencies and are assisting them with various items with crisis."
The Love Inspire Foundation has now announced that they will be launching a brand new updated website this month.
The new online space for the charity will display information, telling families and individuals where to go if they are in a crisis.
It will also offer information on what aid can be accessed, including telephone numbers, websites and links to services.
There will even be referral forms for people who need school uniforms, Love Inspire's helpline number, and information about various case studies they have already handled and updates on activities held throughout the year.
In October 2017, Staffordshire County Council announced the authority would be backing a dedicated crowd-funding website set up to provide specific space for charities, businesses or individuals from the county to showcase their fund-raising projects.
It raises money for good causes and members of the public can donate via the website to schemes they want to help.
The council has invested £50,000 into the initiative. Pots of £5,000 will be offered to projects which help families in crisis if they hit a certain funds target.
Based on website, Crowdfunder.co.uk, the Staffordshire section allows projects to be viewed and donated to by the thousands of people who regularly visit the site.
The up to £5,000 investment will be put into a project if it receives at least 50 per cent of the fund-raising target, showing it is backed by the community as well.
Mrs Dunbar confirmed that the Love Inspire Foundation would be looking to make the most of the crowd funding scheme once the new website is launched.
She continued: "If you live in a local town, Burton people and across East Staffordshire are one of the most generous sets of people in the UK. We love to help, we love a good cause and what better way to have an impact but to donate to local causes and you can do that through the county council crowd funding.
"With Crowd-funding Staffordshire, you know the money is coming back into your town to build the people within the community and to raise their aspirations and to give our children an opportunity to prosper.
"That's just an amazing concept, I'm not saying that the bigger international charities don't need supporting and we'll continue to give, but it's amazing to be able to see first-hand exactly where the money is going and the impact it's having on the community.
"We'll certainly be applying, and we'll be encouraging others to as well. It's just so easy and accessible. Through the website we can easily update our followers and backers."
The charity says it has received a "fantastic" amount of backing from companies in Burton since it was registered.
One of the most recent backers is Summerhouse Bakery, in Burton's market place, which has introduced a suspended coffee system.
Customers can now go into the store and pay for a future drink for someone in need. Love Inspire now give out vouchers which people can take to the café to claim their drink.
Mrs Dunbar said she was flattered to see the group receive so much backing from the likes of established companies such as Asda, Primark and Holiday Inn.
She continued: "We're doing the grassroots, we're dealing with prevention and we're doing early intervention; until you deal with the root causes you're always going to be fighting fire really. I suppose that’s where we differ from some other charities because we target the initial target and look to see what caused it.
"Sainsbury's at Derby Turn, we're their charity of the year. WiRED have announced that we're their charity of the year for 2018. We've been supported by Specsavers, who have been out collecting uniforms and even some luxury hampers for our clients.
"Having the backing from Sainsbury's, and the community who actually chose us, it is awesome, and that this community recognises the impact we have on a daily basis pushed them to choose us. For a charity that’s only in its infancy, we haven’t been around for very long, it was very humbling.
"We were so humbled that people are getting behind us, and recognising that we are a charity making a difference. Since Sainsbury's got involved, they're got behind every one of our appeals."
Anybody searching for more information about Love Inspire Foundation can visit their current website online at https://www.loveinspirefoundationtrust.org/privacy-policy/.