How Pay what you can & lottery funding gives us a hand up, not a hand out

50 Shades of Clay by Rachael Pritchard, Wellbeing Learning Officer

Making Mamories!

This month, we hosted one of our regular evening events, this time with a twist! The event was cheekily titled ’50 Shades of Clay’ and our host Jeni encouraged the group of 20 attendees to have fun making a clay pot (with a variety of artistic additions!). However, the cheeky content is not the twist I am referring to; our event was offered on a ‘Pay What You Can’ basis to all.

Working closely with the community, we know that people often wish to contribute in whatever way they can to the activities and events we organise. Whether this be through time, ideas or money, people like to invest in the offer we provide. The most obvious way this is done is through custom to our community coffee shop, where 100% of the profits are reinvested into the (almost entirely free to attend) groups and classes we offer. 

Our crafty wellbeing sessions, funded by The National Lottery Fund as part of Communiversity, takes place monthly and in the evening as this allows us the use of the coffee shop space, as well as ensuring people who work in the day, or parents / grandparents who cannot attend in the daytime for example, can engage with us at Starting Point.

Conversations led to the booking of Jeni from Lemon Studio, to host a clay evening session; something that many people have never tried before and something that could be difficult to try at home without the correct equipment and knowledge. 

So how do we ensure the event is accessible to everyone and how does this work? We tried a Pay What You Can pricing method for the event using anonymous envelopes on the tables at the event. No suggested price was offered, and people were free to pay what they could, what they felt was right for them for the event, however big or small. No record was taken of who paid what amount; just a reminder that the money will allow us to provide similar events in the future which all will be invited to attend. 

Anonymous feedback was gathered for the event and an optional question of ‘How did you feel about the Pay What You Can fee for the event?’ was asked. Some of the comments included…

​“Great idea! Really opens the class up to anyone!”

​“Yes, wonderful and private also which is nice for some that maybe didn’t have much”

​“Not pressured so really good to what you can afford”

“Allows everyone to be able to come”

“Good, meant I could come to an event and not worry”

From reading the comments it is clear that some people may not ordinarily have attended the event faced with a set price.

They may have worried about hidden costs or being pressured to buy things upsold on the night. It is also clear that people supported each other; they were happy in the knowledge they may have paid more than another at the same event, but that this meant all could attend and enjoy company, laughter, and some questionable clay modelling shapes together!

If attending the gorgeous Lemon Studios at Dunham Massey in Cheshire the cost would be £18. Our average donation was £7 that was then supplemented by funding, but this goes to show in communities like ours, people only want a hand up, not a hand out.

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