In scenes similar to those on TV show ‘Supermarket Sweep’, London South East Colleges' (@LSEColleges) Career Pathway Director, Stuart Blackmore, completed a marathon dash around the College's Bexley Campus to fill almost three shopping trollies with emergency food and grocery items for donation to local food banks this week.
This was the culmination of three months’ worth of tireless campaigning inside and outside of the College - enlisting twenty other UK FE college partners to raise over £3,710 and collect approximately 19,028 items.
This initiative followed on from our #FEFoodbankFriday started in late March when the Covid-19 pandemic first struck. Many people around south east London found themselves becoming dependent on local foodbanks due to unemployment or forced into isolation - especially those with underlying health conditions. This campaign raised over £43,000 nationally.
The College recognised its social duty to help support its community and doing whatever was needed to provide assistance during the crisis. Groups of staff and students mobilised themselves magnificently over the past nine months in so many different ways from manufacturing face masks and other important items of PPE for the NHS, volunteering for the St John Ambulance scheme, working in supermarkets and even producing short safety films for people whose first language is not English.
In October, the campaign was re-launched with a festive theme after the Covid infection rate began to rise again and the country was once more subject to varying degrees of social distancing measures and lockdown.
Group Director of Strategic Growth and Partnerships at London South East Colleges, Andrew Cox, has led the foodbank campaigns from the very beginning, coordinating them throughout the UK.
He said: “I’m delighted that we have finally reached the point where we can make those last deliveries in time for Christmas and knowing that we can feel a sense of collective pride in what we have achieved. It’s marvellous to see how staff and students have worked together in the final couple of weeks with a Christmas panto recorded for download to staff and parents, the design and production of luxury food hampers - these really are top quality - along with Hair and Beauty students putting together stocking fillers for sale in our salon at Bromley. Add to this our SEND students crafting beautiful Christmas gifts and selling them via a mini market in our Nido Volans gardens, the College has been a veritable hive of activity.
“From Friday 11th December, many volunteers took part in a virtual Santa Dash to raise extra funds and Stuart’s trolley dash was the icing on the cake as far as the College’s own #FestiveFEFoodbank goes. In just 40 minutes, he collected another 500 items kindly donated by staff and students around the campus. It all adds up to a truly phenomenal assortment of goods that will help to ensure no one goes hungry over this winter break.”
Stuart said: “What a totally humbling experience it was, I was overwhelmed by the kindness and generosity of our staff and students. I had hoped that we would fill a trolley by the end of it but we managed to do far better than that - almost three trolley loads. A special thanks to Joshua, a Health and Social Care student, for his £10 donation.”
If you would like to make a cash donation to help us provide even more for local food banks, please do so via our #FestiveFEFoodbank JustGiving page. Any donation, large or small is welcome.