Nottingham Arimathea Trust, a NACCOM member delivering housing and support to people who  face destitution, was the recent winner of two local awards with prize money totalling £8,000. We caught up with their CEO, Caron Boulghassoul, to find out more about how they’ll spend the money.

‘The award was part of Nottingham University Ingenuity19 competition, which has been running for three years but for the first time was open to the community (i.e. not just university projects).

It had different stages including a weekend summit, business plan, and a “Dragons Den” pitch to a panel of business, university, charity and local authority representatives. Last week, we were invited to an awards dinner where we were presented with our awards, to our surprise!

The Experian Social Impact Prize was a beautiful trophy and a £4,000 cash payment to support the development of our project, a peer mentoring project for our residents and to help us support other similar charities wanting to provide a mentoring approach to supporting residents.

The aim is to train refugees that are settled to volunteer as mentors for our newer residents. This way we can integrate residents into the community better and also give work experience to refugees so they can get experience and a UK reference to help them move into employment or education. With the money, we will employ someone specifically for this project. This will allow for the dedicated resources needed to operate a double impact project, of aiding integration for mentees and supporting the employability of mentors.

There will also be a toolkit that will be translated into community languages through which we can recruit mentors that have limited English.

Experian have also offered us more support such as utilising their staff for the translations, which would allow us more of the money to pay for a coordinator for the project. However, for us this is so much more than the money – it is about recognising the valuable work Arimathea undertakes for and with our residents.

We hope through the development of the project to be able to improve our resources for training others (locally and nationally) in peer mentoring for refugees, which we will utilise all income generated to continue the work on this project with our own residents. We hope to also use this to develop case studies which would help with our annual reports and also funding applications for grants from trusts and foundations.

In addition, we won the Brenda Dean award which is an award for women who have either recently completed or are within a year of completing an academic course at Nottingham University. This was also a cash prize of £4,000, so we have £8,000 to kick start this work.

It was great to take part. We entered because I thought if it is the first time the competition is open to the community, they will need a winner from the community to show that it works and encourage more applications in the future. So an important lesson here was to “think outside of the box”. By winning support from Experian, it also showed us that there are forward thinking private sector companies who are also willing to think outside of the box, by supporting our work in this way.’

For more on Nottingham Arimathea’s work see their website.