The Project is the trading arm of Arena Community, a charity located in the East Midlands that has been operating for 9 years. The twin beliefs that everybody is somebody and everybody and everything deserves a second chance are fundamental to The Project.



In January of 2009, Woolworths stores nationwide closed down due to problems created by the worldwide financial crisis. The old and dilapidated Woolworths store at the bottom of Bath Street in Ilkeston became vacant as a result, and due to the actions of a benevolent landlord, we were able to secure a generous 15-year lease on the property.

A large grant from Erewash Borough Council kickstarted the renovations. With the generous support of Arena Church and the help of other local businesses and people, our project manager Kev Harrison of K H Civils and a small team of tradespeople converted the old building into a vibrant and attractive high street destination.

The building now hosts the Workshop Cafe which sells handmade food and serves first class drinks. The ground floor also stocks vintage furniture and clothing, contemporary cushions and throws, and a large selection of smaller items including craft gifts, toiletries, along with modern mugs, teapots and similar items.

As The Project begins to turn a profit and we work to secure further funding, we aim to improve the facilities available. We are currently in the process of converting and renovating the upstairs space to create classrooms, three separate workshop areas, storage space and offices.



We have a staff of 9 people and over 70 volunteers (Dream Teamers) who give hundreds of hours each week to serve all people within the community. We run various feeding programmes including free hot meals and a food bank, as well as an after-school feeding programme. Arena Community provides supported living with 4 houses that accommodate up to 10 people, a gardening programme that runs from a large allotment, and a support referral service that works with over 30 different agencies, in addition to a detached youth work programme.

These projects operate principally from a Warehouse Hub in Ilkeston and from Arena Church Mansfield.

Our partners include Social Services, Probation, Derby College, The Prison Service, Erewash Borough Council and the Police.