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Skem church and charity founded by Nigerian couple celebrates anniversary

A church and charity which has helped thousands of young people in Skelmersdale is celebrating its 30th anniversary in the town this year.

The Divine Solution Church and the Hope House project were founded by Pastor Tony Adegbenro who came to the UK from Nigeria to study banking but fell in love with Merseyside and founded church and charity with his wife, Dola, in 1992.

It’s still going strong today, funded by two Hope charity shops which are now so busy he has had to invest in a 20-foot storage unit bought from North Wales-based Container Sales Centre to store donated stock.

Tony and Dola, who live in Fazackerley, in Liverpool, still run the operation which has grown from holding meetings in a single room to making regular visits to schools around the town and organising activities for local children.

He said: “People often say that children are troublesome but they are only looking for two things, somewhere to go and something to do.

“That’s why they knocked on our door when we were having a meeting with six people which started it all off – I opened the door and there were 25 kids there.

“It’s when there’s nowhere for them to go and nothing for them to do that you get problems with crime and anti-social behaviour.”

His own career began in banking in Nigeria with Barclays and he moved to the UK to study for banking qualifications, intending to return home when he graduated but he admits he was side-tracked into mission work.

Now the work he and Dola do in the community and in schools and which has expanded online to reach children in Skelmersdale, many cities of the UK and around the world in the USA, Ireland, Germany, Africa, Pakistan and India is funded by their two Skelmersdale charity shops, at Acregate, in Digmoor, and on Gillibrands Road.

He said: “We needed more storage space. I went online and found the Container Sales Centre in Denbigh in North Wales. They were very reasonable and offered a great service.

“They even delivered the container with their own lorry and that has enabled us to expand the work we do because we can store more stock for our shops.

“We also send donations we receive to help people in Africa and now we can store these goods safely in a watertight unit until the shipment is ready to go.

“That’s due to be shipped out soon and will help the homeless, those forced ingto prostitution and the very many orphaned children and it will include clothes, medical equipment like wheelchairs and Zimmer frames, and sewing machines to help people start businesses – we have a room that’s full of stuff.”

CSC sales consultant Lisa James said: “Containers are really versatile and ideal for so many different uses and we’re finding there has been a real surge in demand for them.

“Tony has been doing some fantastic work with children and young people in Skelmersdale and it is mainly funded by the Hope charity shops so having this storage option means they can take better advantage of the donations of goods they receive and do even more.

“It’s amazing that something that started locally now has an international dimension as well.”

The Hope House Project, through its School Angels network, has held regular assemblies and activitiessince 1988 at primary and secondary schools in the Skelmersdale area but much of their activity had to close down when the pandemic hit which meant they had to move many of their services online.

Tony said: “We were reaching about 2,000 kids a week in different schools and over the years we have worked with tens of thousands of children in and around Skelmersdale and at Christmas we distributed 4,000 chocolate bars from Cadbury’s but in lockdown it has been like a miracle from an obstacle.

“By going online we are now reaching out to many, many more young people all around the world. We do singing and dancing, teach the word of God and play family games with parents joining in as well. It’s all very exciting.”

Container Sales Centre specialises in the sale of new and used shipping containers which range in sizer from 10-feet long up through 20-footers to 40-foot units, all eight feet high and eight feet wide, from 640 to 2,560 in cubic feet in volume.

The new units supplied are watertight and they can also be insulated plus they provide versatile storage options or for the more ambitious, a range of possible uses including office space and even as component parts of innovative new homes.

Lisa James added: “Containers are really versatile and ideal for so many different uses and we’re finding there has been a real surge in demand for them.

“An advantage of buying outright is that you can also paint the exterior to your own taste including having your company branding if you are launching your own business.

“Our containers have been used to house a flight simulator and even as an indoor coffee bar and with our specialist lorry we can deliver containers up to 40 feet long and can also arrange to move units to different site locations.”

CSC supply a variety of containers including new wind and watertight, used wind and watertight and used in need of repair and prices range from £900 for small pre-used units needing repair through used wind and watertight units to new ones with the prices ranging between £2,000-£4,500 and delivery can be arranged to most places in the UK.

Captions: Captions: Pastor Tony Adegbenro, left, his wife, Dola, and Manager Dave Simmons filling up their new storage unit at The Hope Project, in Skelmersdale.

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