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Gareth @Saltbox

Studio107 – Telling Your Story – An interview with Simon Brooks

Do you need help and support when it comes to increasing your multimedia presence but don’t know where to begin? This week we caught up with Simon Brooks, owner of Studio107, who provide a range of filming, media and event services across the local church circuit.


Tell us a bit about who you are and your background?
I’m 48, and have lived in Kidsgrove all of my life. I’m a local lad. I’ve been a Christian for approximately 34 years and have been heavily involved in church life for most of my life.  I got married 3 years ago to the most amazing person I have ever met, Nadine. We have a beautiful 2 year old son and a gorgeous 17 year old daughter. We worship at Lifestream Church in Biddulph and have done for the last 10 months after we felt God calling us out of our previous church.

How long have you been working in film / media?
I’ve been involved in film and media for about 10 years or so, providing camera and media capabilities to the churches I have attended. This has ranged from videos to illustrate sermons / talks to full event videos and also to training others on camera and media in church. I’ve also spent the last 3 years as part of my last job doing corporate video production.

What inspired you to start Studio107?
Film and media is something that has been a passion of mine for a long while. I’ve wanted to start my own business for years and never had the opportunity. It’s something I have been praying about for a while now and when, sadly, I was made redundant from my last job both my wife and myself prayed about this and we both felt that God was saying that now was the right time to do it. So here we go!

My passion is to help to resource Gods church. This means that I want to help churches to get the best out of media. I believe that this is a crucial area for churches. They need to get the gospel out there. Social media is huge right now and the most effective way to communicate is through video. Most churches don’t do this, or at least don’t do it effectively. This needs to change.

Who are your audience and what services do you offer?
Studio107 specialises in serving churches, but we also provide the same services to businesses. We believe in stories. Stories engage people. Stories inspire people. Our services help you to tell your story, be it the gospel or promoting your business.

We can offer numerous different services including events coverage, training, and media production. We can either do it all for you or we can show you how to create effective videos for yourself.

Our services not only include basic filming but also motion graphics so you can make sure that your content looks as amazing as possible. From one-off short videos to a series of TV shows, we can help you to tell your story.

For anybody wanting to get in touch with you how can they do so?
Simply visit our website at and fill in the contact form or call me on 07453 373561 or email me at

2019 Stoke-on-Trent Civic Prayer Breakfast

Saltbox would like to invite you to the 2019 Stoke-on-Trent Civic Prayer Breakfast (Friday 10th May, 7.30 – 9.30am at Kings Hall, Stoke)

Last year over 300 people joined together to celebrate our city. Amongst them, leaders from our faith sector, business, commerce, industry, education and health, working collaboratively towards the future success and welfare of Stoke-on-Trent.

Across the country, people are attending similar events in their respective towns and cities. Here in Stoke-on-Trent we host one of the largest Civic Prayer Breakfast’s that takes place in the the UK.

This year we will be joined by:

  • Rachel Parkinson (Chair of Wolverhampton and Shrewsbury District Methodist Church)
  • John Owen (Chief Inspector Stoke-on-Trent North)
  • Lord Mayor Lilian Dodd

Tickets are priced at £10.00 and include a full English breakfast. Purchases can be made:

  • By card – Call 01782 207 200
  • By cheque – Send to Saltbox, Bemersley House, Gitana Street, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, ST1 1DY
  • In person – Methodist Book Centre, Gitana Street, Hanley
  • General enquires – Email

Collaboration with npower Supports Vulnerable Local People

Saltbox’s Money Matters service, established in 2009, has provided financial support and debt advice to vulnerable individuals across North Staffordshire for over a decade now.  Since 2014 Money Matters has worked in partnership with Trussell Trust, running 35 drop-in sessions a month across 16 Stoke-on-Trent Foodbank centres. From November 2017 to December 2018 the team has helped 1138 individuals access an estimated £109,595 of previously unclaimed benefits and managed c. £295,547 worth of debt.

Over the years, there has been an increased demand for the service, and Saltbox realised it had to find alternative sources of funding to continually support the service. As of November 2017, major utilities provider npower has funded the team as part of their commitment to support people in vulnerable situations. Thanks to npower’s contribution, Money Matters is now securely funded all the way through to October 2020.

Joanne Speed, Saltbox’s Financial Director said “This is a fantastic collaboration between Saltbox, npower and Stoke-on-Trent Foodbank and a real example of great practice. Through the funding received from npower and by working together to provide essential food or fuel support, alongside helping people to maximize their weekly income or resolve their debts, it has meant the service has continued to support some of the most vulnerable people in our city, at a time when they need it most. Our biggest challenge at the moment is the significant growth in numbers of people accessing support, and so we are continually looking at ways we can expand the service, including training more volunteers to help meet this need. Any offer of support is most welcome!”

Mary-anne Rapson, Money Matters Lead Debt Advisor said “The people that we have been able to help have been so grateful to find us available for them in the Foodbank centres at a time when they are most in need.  I have even been called ‘an angel’, which of course is nothing to do with me personally, but rather the fact that npower have made it possible for me to be in the Stoke-on-Trent Foodbank centres”

Money Matters Lead Debt Advisor Mary-anne Rapson

Corrine Boden of Stoke-on-Trent Foodbank commented “Money Matters is such a pivotal part of what we do at Stoke-on-Trent Foodbank. It offers a much-needed and vital service to our guests, enabling them to deal with their monetary problems whilst they wait for their food parcel. The additional support helps to enhance the impact of what Foodbank aims to achieve, leading to valued outcomes for the guest. This would not be possible without npower and Saltbox working in collaboration with us. We have been able to meet the recent increase in foodbank usage, and deliver a unique provision of additional support which has been invaluable for the guest.”

Matthew Cole, npower’s Head of Vulnerability said “Our targeted local partnerships enable us to provide personalised support and advice to customers on a wide variety of energy-related issues.  npower is really proud to be part of this collaboration with Stoke on Trent Foodbank and Saltbox: we can see the difference made by providing folk in crisis with fuel and food, as well as the benefits of starting to unpick and resolve some really complex financial issues.”

To find out more information about Money Matters please visit

If you need additional support in managing your energy bills please visit

New Year 2019 City Celebration

Join us for a city-wide celebration to welcome in the New Year.

Rev. Kathryn Stephens and Robert Mountford will be our hosts. Our guests will be Rev. Adrian Stone (Speaker) and James Adams (Worship Leader)

Taking place at Swan Bank Church, Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent, ST6 2AA on Sunday 6 January (18:15 – 20:00)

For more information please contact Tim Lucas:

Thank You Madison

Saltbox would like to say a big thank you to Madison Hall-Elliot and her mum who dropped off donations for the homeless at our Burslem office last week.

Madison’s dad works in London and on a recent visit she saw a homeless man who they helped out by buying a meal deal. This led to Madison wanting to help homeless people in Stoke-on-Trent. After asking friends and family she was able to raise plenty of donations ranging from toiletries, knitted hats, gloves and essentials.

Thanks to Madison’s hard work Saltbox will now be able to pass on her donations to the homeless and vulnerable across Stoke-on-Trent in time for Christmas:)

You can read more about Madison’s charitable work over on StokeOnTrentLive.


Fill A Sock – Appeal For The Homeless

Saltbox is working in partnership with The Co-operative Bank to encourage donations for homeless individuals across North Staffordshire. Starting this week you can drop off essential items (including toothbrushes, toothpaste, combs, gloves and deodorant) at either the Co-operative Hanley branch (2 Town Road) or Newcastle-under-Lyme branch (31 High Street). The Co-op will then work with Saltbox to package the items and get them out to vulnerable members of the community.

This week we caught up with Laura Mellor, the Co-operative Bank Branch Manager for Newcastle-under-Lyme, to find out more about how ‘Fill a Sock’ works. Video below

Harvest 2018 – Help Support our Christian Mission

Saltbox has worked in Stoke-on-Trent for over thirty years, delivering a broad range of faith-based and community services. We would be delighted this Harvest if you would consider making a donation towards our ongoing Christian Mission. If you would like to support us with a donation then there are a number of ways to help out:

  • Credit card / debit card / PayPal donations – Payment can be made through our JustGiving campaign page –
  • Mobile phone donations can be made directly to our JustTextGiving account by texting HVST18 £10 (or your preferred donation amount) to 70070
  • Cheque and cash donations can be sent to Saltbox, Bemersley House, Gitana Street, Stoke-on-Trent, ST1 1DY. Please make cheques payable to ‘Saltbox’

To find out more about the work Saltbox do in the community, Chief Executive Lloyd Cooke has the following video message. You can also visit our website, available here.

Thank you for your support.


Forrest Recruitment donation

This week Saltbox received a generous donation from the Newcastle-under-Lyme branch of Forrest Recruitment, pictured visiting our Hanley office to present a cheque for £1,000.00, below.

Iona Botfield, Newcastle Branch Manager for Forrest Recruitment said “It was a fantastic to hear how the money could be utilised to help those around those in the local area with much-needed support.” 

Saltbox Chief Executive Lloyd Cooke added “It is really heartening when local businesses like Forest Recruitment recognise the amazing work done by Saltbox’s staff & volunteers.”

For more information on Forrest Recruitment please visit their website at

Meanwhile, if you’re a local business and would like to help support the work that Saltbox delivers across North Staffordshire communities, please get in touch with us on

City Centre Life Project

A new project based in Hanley city centre is currently being piloted to help people who are either street homeless or presenting as homeless. The project aims to engage with individuals who would ordinarily have nowhere to go and to encourage peer-led learning. The project is being hosted and delivered by My Community Matters. We caught up with Lisa Tomkinson, Community Development Worker at Community Ventures to find out more.

So, can you tell us a bit more about the project?

The aim of this service is not only to give people an opportunity to get some respite from residing on the streets but also to allow them to find a safe space to relax and make some social connections and access meaningful activities. The hope is that those who attend will help to shape the way the group works and make decisions on what they would like to do. Currently, there are opportunities for people to get refreshments, have a conversation with the staff and maybe play a game or two whilst having the opportunity to connect with new people.

The hope is to get other advisory services involved with the project to provide vital signposting, diversionary activities and support directly to the people that need it without necessarily waiting for lengthy assessments and referral processes. The social space may also include the opportunity to access activities outside of the group and support to access things like gym, art and other creative hobbies and interests. This is also about building bridges within the local community and demonstrating that often people simply need to have some social connection to establish themselves back into society. Another aspect is to prevent loneliness and isolation that people on the streets are often facing. The project aims to empower people who have often been disconnected from services and allow them to have a voice to make decisions about what activities they can access.

What are you hoping to achieve?

Our main aim is to give people the chance to get to know people within their community and start to socialise in a safe place. We want people to take the lead on deciding what activities are made available and support them to improve their overall wellbeing. We also want people to be able to attend a service where they won’t be stigmatised and for others to understand why people are spending time in the streets within the city centre. We also hope to encourage other service providers and agencies by inviting them to come along and talk to individuals who attend.

Where will the project be based?

Our plan is to run the project every week from Monday 30th July (2:00pm – 4:00pm) at The Lounge (Saltbox Christian Centre), Bemersley House, Gitana Street, Hanley, ST1 1DY. More information can be seen on our flier, here.

How can people get in touch and find out more?

We are only a few weeks into the pilot and we are really looking forward to how this grows. If you are working with individuals who frequent the city centre and may benefit from this project, or have any other questions, please get in touch with the team on 07792120541 to find out more.


Support Saltbox with AmazonSmile

Do you shop online with and would like to support Saltbox? AmazonSmile is a free service available to all Amazon UK customers. When you use AmazonSmile the overall shopping experience is exactly the same. The only difference is, Amazon will donate 0.5% of the profit they make on eligible items to a charity of your choice.

It’s really easy to set up and we’d very much appreciate it if you would consider nominating Saltbox as your charity. Your donations will help to support our key services, including CareLink – Saltbox’s telephone befriending service that helps lonely and isolated older people across Stoke-on-Trent.

If you’d like to get started with AmazonSmile then we’ve put together a quick set up guide and introduction video, below, to help you out. More support can also be found over on Amazon’s website, here.

I’m an existing user. How do I set up Amazon Smile?

  • Go to
  • Log in with your existing Amazon account details
  • Select a charity of your choice using the search box. For example, type in ‘Saltbox’ and we’ll appear
  • Follow the on-screen instructions and click ‘Start Shopping’
  • Remember, for donations to count you will need to use the URL rather than the regular URL, so it’s worth updating your internet bookmarks with the new address.

How to set up AmazonSmile Tutorial video