Students who volunteer at a city food bank have urged more young people to volunteer and help support families that are in crisis and need the extra help it provides.
The team at E2 in Beaumont Leys launched the Food Hub nearly a year ago with food donated by Fareshare (East Midlands) from supermarkets. They raised money to buy and equip a small shop with shelving, fridges and freezers and a till.
It runs every Friday between 11am and 2pm. Originally it was helping around 16 people a week but now regularly sees more than 40 families as word of mouth grew and the implementation of Universal Credit was rolled out.
DMU students Nassor Mreh and Uloko Rex Ogoh volunteer there every week. Work involves sorting the donations which come from various sources as well as Fareshare, which receives food from supermarket chains including the Co-op, Tesco and Lidl. Volunteers help with stocking the food hub, maintaining food safety standards, keeping records and helping customers.
Nassor, a Business Management student, lives in the area and read about its appeal for volunteers. He said: “It is about giving back to the community and volunteering here is a way to help people out. The food bank here helps so many people.” “It is only a few hours a week to volunteer and it is good to make a difference.”
Uloko, who is studying a Master’s in data analytics, said: “It’s sad that these food hubs have to exist at all, but we can see how well used it is.”
The campaign to raise money for the Food Hub began in October last year and by December, it was open. E2 is able to support people with skills training and budgeting courses, and referrals can be made via the Food Hub or through supporting agencies such as the NHS, Leicester City Council, Leicestershire Police, schools and Supporting Tenants and Residents (STAR).
David Jennings of Beaumont Leys said: “It’s helped me no end. I’ve been coming for the past three or four months and having this has about saved my life.”
Sarah-Jayne Grant lives with partner and toddler Matthew in Beaumont Leys and said the service had really helped. She said: “We found out about it through word of mouth. It does help out a lot especially this week when our washing machine broke and that means you’re spending money on that and you still have food to buy. Having this here has been great.”
Martin Buchanan, chief executive of the E2 Training Centre, said: “Whatever Government is in power I expect food hubs to be here to stay for some time. Even if the Government’s priorities were to change overnight, I still think it would take years for positive changes to work its way through the system.”
The Food Hub is one of a series of volunteering projects being run in Beaumont Leys – one of three target areas for DMU Square Mile work to improve the lives of residents in the city.
DMU student volunteers work on two projects in Beaumont Leys such as Strike Out which is aimed at helping marginalised young people with challenging behaviours and complex needs. Strike Out is an alternative education programme that aims to help young people re-engage with learning, while BLING - Beaumont Leys Inspiring the Next Generation - provides a series of social activities and fun events on the estate.
There is also the Digital Champions project with student volunteers helping people on the estate improve their IT skills, a homework club for young people wanting help, a parent and toddlers’ group and the Magpie Media Hub which will see newsletters produced for the community.
Posted on Monday 5th November 2018