DMU student helps vulnerable locals get through coronavirus crisis


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Years of volunteering through De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) have given Aneesah Latkan the resolve to support some of the city’s most vulnerable residents during the global pandemic.

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As soon as the coronavirus started to grip the UK, Aneesah joined the #ViralKindess campaign, popping a postcard through her neighbours’ letterboxes encouraging them to contact her if they are self-isolating and need help.

The help options on the print-out postcard include 'pick up shopping,' 'a friendly phone call,' 'posting mail,' and 'urgent supplies'.

“One woman I delivered supplies to started crying because she was so grateful,” said the 22-year old DMU Law LLB student from Leicester.

“I left them on her doorstep and she kept apologising that she couldn’t invite me in and thank me properly. Honestly though, it was the highlight of my week – just knowing what my help means to people and the difference I can make in these tough times.”

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The printed postcard Aneesah circulated to her neighbours

Aneesah also volunteers for Islamic Relief - a non-governmental organisation providing disaster and emergency response around the world - and other smaller organisations in Leicester, providing vital food parcels for low-income families and those particularly susceptible to the coronavirus.

Alongside other generous volunteers, Aneesah has been helping to collect, sort and deliver donated food to those in need.

She said: “It’s a really challenging role to do while practicing responsible social distancing, but so many people are relying on these supplies to be able to survive.”

Now that a nationwide instruction has been issued by the government for people to stay in their homes for at least three weeks, Aneesah is still doing her bit by helping to run Islamic Relief’s local social media channels, contributing to an increase in donations.

“I love community work and how everyone is coming together. There are so many people who want to help, which makes a nice change from all the stories we hear about people stockpiling from supermarkets,” she said.

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Aneesah representing DMU at the UN's headquarters in New York

Aneesah first started getting involved in volunteering opportunities through DMU Local, the university’s public engagement initiative. From the first year of her degree until recently, she has visited countries such as America, India and Germany to help support refugees and asylum seekers.

During the second year of her degree she was invited to the United Nations’ (UN) headquarters in New York twice, to speak about DMU’s role as a global hub for one of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are aimed at transforming the lives of millions by 2030.

She said: “That’s the year my whole life changed – I became so confident and even more passionate. I had always seen volunteering as way to develop myself, but understanding how my actions were positively impacting other people was truly humbling.”

It’s also when Aneesah decided to do a placement year with DMU Local before finishing her degree. As a public engagement assistant, she was responsible for ensuring the 17 SDGs were at the heart of projects, creating and managing volunteering opportunities and accompanying students abroad.

Now in the final year of her degree, amidst a worldwide pandemic, Aneesah is also making time to study for her exams, which she’ll most likely have to take online.

Specialising in company law has helped her to secure a graduate job with Capgemini, a global provider of consulting, technology, professional and outsourcing services.

As an associate consultant, Aneesah will be helping clients to transform their businesses through technology.

“I’m due to start in September, but it all depends on the coronavirus situation. Right now, I’m just grateful to have a job to look forward to and it’s helping me to stay positive while I focus on finishing my degree,” she said.

“At the same time, I feel so sad about graduating. Four years just wasn’t enough here. I joined with less than average A-levels and now averaging outstanding grades. DMU has really shaped me as a person.”

Posted on Thursday 26th March 2020

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