Partnership Project Brings Historic Building Back To Life

An innovative new project involving the Good Shepherd, Wolves Foundation and the City of Wolverhampton Council has opened its doors at the historic Queen’s Building in the City Centre.    

The Central Community Shop, a flagship store among a network of community shops the council has pioneered across the city, will offer residents of Wolverhampton the opportunity to register and buy food at affordable prices.

It has also been joined at the same location by a new ‘Pomegranate’ social enterprise café, while the next stage is to develop a multi-use space on the first floor aiming to deliver support and interventions that alleviate poverty, build financial stability and offer training and employability guidance.    

“We are delighted that after so much hard work between all the partners involved, the Queen’s has been transformed into a shop and café area for this new project, whilst maintaining its charm as such a wonderful and historic building,” says Lucy Cox, the Good Shepherd’s Service Manager – Food & Advice Services.    

“This offers a dignified experience for shoppers who are experiencing financial challenges from the cost of living crisis, as well as an opportunity for those who have previously accessed the Good Shepherd’s food service to make a step forward.   

“Our staff and volunteers are ready to continue their hard work to ensure the shop becomes a really successful part of the city centre and, as part of this exciting new initiative, we are hoping the community cafe will become popular with commuters, shoppers and office workers within the city.”    

Funds raised from the community café will be invested into the Good Shepherd’s free-to-access food and support services and other charitable activities.

The opening of the Queen’s Building marks a major milestone for the City of Wolverhampton Council in delivering further help for all during the current cost of living crisis and beyond.

It will serve all citizens and help their money go further now but will also provide advice and guidance on improving financial resilience for years to come.

It also signals yet another key step in the council’s vision for the city centre, adding to the successful opening of The Halls, new transport Interchange, the growing Commercial District, transformation of public spaces, the development of a new City Learning Quarter, and plans for hundreds of new homes at Canalside.

Leader of the council, Councillor Stephen Simkins said: “This really is a great step forward for the city, not just now during these difficult times, but for years to come.

“The Queen’s Building is a central location for the latest in our community shops, which are dotted across the city and have already helped thousands save on their weekly food bills. It will also help people become more financially resilient for the future, helping them, their families and our city to thrive.

“It also marks yet another milestone in transforming the city centre to a buzzing destination where locals and visitors alike can enjoy great leisure activities like the Halls, alongside the growing Commercial District and hundreds of new homes planned for Canalside.

“I’d urge Wulfrunians to get behind this great new venture and pop in to enjoy the great food and drink at great prices.”

The project has received £130,000 from the UK government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, with the City of Wolverhampton Council adding their own investment from their Household Support Fund.

Further support has come from Wolves Foundation, Wolves’ official charity, who are partnering with the Good Shepherd and the Council as part of their new ‘Supporting Our Pack’ initiative, helping those in need across the city and wider areas with anumber of different projects.

This new commitment also comes as a legacy for the hugely successful Feed Our Pack initiative, which has now transitioned to a new and wider approach after reaching three years of operation in January.

“Feed Our Pack was set up during the pandemic and provided a range of different support both in food and other areas for people who were finding life difficult,” says Tom Warren, Senior Manager with Wolves Foundation.    

“With that project having completed its designated three-year timespan, any continuing food support delivered by the Foundation will now come under the remit of Supporting Our Pack, part of an overall package of ways in which we are continuing to help people in the community.

“This will involve a wide range of support across several different projects, but all with the shared ambition of providing assistance to people across the city, including creating opportunities to help them make progress in their lives where possible.

“And so, the Queen’s building will not only provide affordable food for people who are still facing challenging circumstances, but also access to additional services around training and employability – it’s a really exciting project which the Foundation are delighted to be a part of.”    

Dr Jamie Mackrill, Chief Development Officer from SJOG Hospitaller Services, who are funding the new café, is also excited about the potential impact of the new initiative.

He said: “We are delighted have supported the start-up of Pomegranate. The design of the project means it will have real impact on people who are beginning their journey back into employment through support of the Good Shepherd.”   

The Queen’s building, situated near the city’s bus and train stations, was built in 1849, and the day-to-day operation of the venue will be run by staff and volunteers from the Good Shepherd and Wolves Foundation.  

Initial opening hours for the Central Community Shop are 10am-2pm Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Shoppers can turn up and simply register for an annual membership for the price of £3. Visit centralshop.org.uk for more details. The Pomegranate Café is currently open from Tuesday to Friday inclusive, also from 10am-2pm.    

Pictures courtesy: Catherine Pickard/City of Wolverhampton Council

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