Updated: May 4
Angie Kennedy has been C2C Social Action’s CEO for three years and is no stranger to charity work.
In 2012, she set up the second branch of what is now a national charity. Baby Basics started three years earlier in Sheffield, where the team were making a huge difference to vulnerable families by providing Moses baskets packed with nappies, clothing and toiletries to ease the transition into parenthood.
Angie’s faith has been central in her life since becoming a Christian in 2006. Hearing a talk at the 2012 New Wine Christian conference, she was inspired by Baby Basics’ invitation to set up local groups in other parts of the UK. Aided by seed funding from the Cinnamon Network, Northampton became the first offshoot of what is now a charity with more than 50 branches and a TV vicar (Revd Canon Kate Bottley, of Gogglebox and BBC Radio 2 fame) as its patron.
It’s clear that Angie has the ability to support people in a way that they need and will respond to. While bringing up her two daughters, she ran Seedlings, a “toddler group for people who don’t do toddler groups” at the community centre linked to her church. Angie also volunteered at health visitor clinics held at the venue. Angie asked her team of Seedlings volunteers to help set up Baby Basics Northampton and the charity provided their first basket in 2013.
The service provides benefits beyond providing the items themselves. When the expectant mums arrive to pick up the items, the midwives are able to use them to have practical conversations such as where the baby will sleep, and have their nappies changed. This takes the focus away from the clinical and possibly intimidating surroundings of a GP surgery or other consulting room and on to the real items which the prospective mother will be using to care for their child. To date, Baby Basics Northampton has helped more than 1,700 families.
Valuing the individual
With Baby Basics Northampton now established, Angie began a new job as C2C Social Action’s bookkeeper. With its focus on the criminal justice system, C2C may seem a world away from supporting new mothers but the same theme runs through both. As well as alleviating the anxiety around preparing for their baby’s arrival, Baby Basics exists to help vulnerable women feel valued and loved. People in the criminal justice system, or at risk of this, may find themselves there for a variety of reasons. And many of these reasons make them vulnerable and with low self-worth. C2C’s support workers spend time one-to-one helping build service users’ confidence and self-esteem.
Baby Basics was started by a Christian, and is run by volunteers in churches and community groups across the UK. Both charities support people of all faiths, and none. C2C Social Action (formerly known as Crime 2 Christ) is a Christian organisation. Many (but not all) of the staff are Christian, and the team pray together (virtually) each weekday morning. Angie says: “God is at the heart of everything we do” and added “as we work with statutory organisations we can’t proselytise: we’re overtly Christian in a non-overtly Christian way”.
In 2019 Angie was given the opportunity to lead the team and stepped into a new role as CEO. Angie is taking the charity from strength to strength as Pauline Jones, our employment coordinator explains:
“Angie has made the [women’s] centre a safer place for women to come to. With her enthusiasm, she has also encouraged more women to volunteer. She is a great one for joining in various things that are going on in the centre which helps improve the morale of the volunteers and the service users. Angie has always listened to the staff, volunteers and the service users and will make changes when she feels it is necessary.”
“I love a good spreadsheet!”
As well as charity experience, Angie has a background in logistics, which helps her to make sure that C2C can put the right people (with the right knowledge) in the right place, at the right time, using their individual skills and gifts.
You won’t find Angie “shouting about being a CEO”. Instead, she describes her role as serving:
“For me, the most important people within C2C are the service users. And my role as CEO is to enable the organisation to provide the best service we physically can for the service users that come to us and also to provide the best service I can for the staff and volunteers.”
Partnership working is also key to C2C’s effectiveness in changing lives, and making the most of the charity’s funds:
“We know that we're not experts in everything. So instead of reinventing the wheel, we'll look at what's around, what's in existence currently, and use others’ expertise. In the current climate, it’s not an endless pot of money. You can't be funded for everything. And if you've got somebody out there, that's got the set of expertise that you need, then actually it makes sense to work in partnership with them.”
These partners range from probation to specialist agencies (such as Substance to Solution) who work with our service users. Angie has built a productive working relationship with the Northamptonshire Police and Crime Commissioner, and is shaping policy through the Community Sentence Treatment Requirements Strategy Board and Female Offenders Strategy Board.
Angie is behind the Knife Angel (the National Monument Against Violence & Aggression) visit to Northamptonshire in May 2022. She has worked with organisations from councils to churches, and the University of Northampton to Voice for Victims & Witnesses, to make her vision a reality.
Angie’s hard work and leadership was recognised when she won the Community category in the West Northants 2022 Inspirational Women Awards in March 2022. The win recognises her work with C2C, Baby Basics and her efforts to bring the Knife Angel to the county.
“Everyone has potential, regardless of what they have done in their past.”
When asked about a service user story that has inspired her, Angie mentioned a lady she had met towards the end of her community order. Until recently, this former service user was one of C2C’s trustees, helping to shape the organisation. Now a member of staff, this lady is using her lived experience to advocate for current service users, and support them to rebuild their lives, as she herself has done. “She’s come a million miles”.
Written by Louisa Ellins, a freelance wordsmith who has been supporting C2C with grant applications and communications projects since 2020.