Students are set to help provide thousands of daily meals to people in need across Leicester under a new proposal announced by De Montfort University Leicester (DMU).
Professor Shellard in New York with students holding up icons of four of the 17 UN goals
In a discussion at the United Nations (UN) in New York today, Vice-Chancellor Professor Dominic Shellard outlined a commitment from students to run the social enterprise.
Groups which would benefit would include refugees and asylum seekers, the homeless, children in after-school programmes, local prisoners and fellow students.
The scheme would be modelled on the Akshaya Patra charity in India, a national operation which provides more than 1.5 million meals to children every day under the banner “no child shall be deprived of education because of hunger”.
The announcement was made by Professor Shellard during a speech at the 67th annual DPI/NGO Conference, the premier event of the UN’s NGO calendar.
He said: "We are going to partner with Akshaya Patra to create kitchens in Leicester so that we can provide thousands of meals every day. These are going to be members of the society who are not catered for in that regard including refugees and asylum seekers with whom we work extensively. That stems from our commitment to public good."
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The DPI is the UN’s Department of Public Information, which raises awareness of UN work through communications and close working with non-governmental organisations (NGO).
More than 1,000 delegates from business and organisations all over the world are attending the two-day event, which this year will share ideas on how to meet the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The university has taken the step of embedding the SDGs – which tackle global social and economic issues such as poverty, hunger, health, education, sanitation, social justice and the environment - into its new forward plan.
Its work to support SDG 16 - the promotion of peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, providing access to justice for all and building effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels – has seen DMU been chosen by United Nations Academic Impact group as a ‘designated hub’ for the goal.
Professor Shellard says that the new five-year Strategic Plan signals DMU's commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the clearest possible way by indicating how the university will embed the goals into the entire curriculum at DMU, and into all aspects of DMU’s teaching, learning and research.
He told the conference: "I am optimistic for the future. We will meet the SDG goals. Our students are not prepared to see the planet desecrated any more than it is.
"The life expectancy in the UK is 82 years for women and 79 years for men so these students have at least 60 years to go and sort out the mess that my generation has created."
Professor Shellard described some of the work DMU has already done to address the goals, focusing on DMU’s work in the community, which has already brought benefits to thousands of Leicester people, under the #DMUlocal banner through sport, health and education projects.
He also spoke of the work done through DMU’s Square Mile India project, which has seen hundreds of students travel to Gujarat to work at the Gandhi Ashram, in Ahmedabad, and help some of the city’s poorest children.
Since the project began, students have helped deliver English classes, undertake screenings for hearing, build washrooms, teach dance and drama and develop solar technology that improves lives.
Earlier this year, the work of DMU Square Mile India was awarded The Times Higher Education Leadership and Management Award for Best International Strategy, with judges calling the project ‘simply outstanding’.
Posted on Thursday 23rd August 2018