Students’ generosity allows College to help community

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After being blown away by the response of students and staff to City College Plymouth’s Foodbank appeal, the College has been able to extend its support to those facing financial hardship across the City.

After raising £14,385 through grants from Plymouth City Council, an online fundraising campaign and personal donations, not only has the College been able to purchase a fridge and freezer for its own foodbank supplies, it has also been able to donate an appliance to the Aid Redistribution Centre (ARC), which is part of the Plymouth Food Aid Network.

The ARC acts as a distribution centre for unsold food that would otherwise be sent to landfill; a number of supermarkets are now supporting the cause which in turn helps community groups throughout Plymouth.

Chaz Talbot, Student Liaison Officer at City College, said: “Our onsite College foodbank has always been well-supported by students and staff and I know they will be delighted to see their donations helping even more people in the community by enabling the ARC to store and safely distribute frozen goods in addition to staples such as rice, pasta and tinned goods.”

City College Plymouth’s foodbank was set up in December 2019 by a group of Access to Higher Education students who were horrified to hear one of their colleagues was missing out on her education to attend foodbank appointments.

Soon after it was set up, students and staff began regularly donating food items to help other students in need, as well as household items such as toiletries, pet food, baby items and cleaning supplies.

When the pandemic hit the College could only open for vulnerable students and the children of key workers, which had an effect on donations; however, it was still keen to support its vulnerable students so the College signed up to a national fundraising campaign, raising money for its own and other foodbank projects, whilst maintaining a delivery service through the Students’ Union.

Chaz added: “With some staff still permitted onsite, we were able to continue delivering food parcels to those in need; however, with very few students and staff on campus, our supplies dwindled.

“The College community came through once again by supporting the fundraising appeal. Plymouth City Council was also very generous, and that is why we decided to pay this forward and purchase a freezer for the ARC, after consulting with them on the best way to help. Donating this way allows us to support our student community throughout the year through access to other community projects.”

ARC Manager, Karena Jolly, said: “To some this might just be a freezer, but for the families and individuals we help, this is an extra helping hand at a time when someone is at their most vulnerable.

“We can greatly increase what we are able to store and distribute thanks to this new freezer, so we would like to thank the City College community and Plymouth City Council for their support.”

Director of Student Journey, Bob Hunter, who visited the ARC recently, said: “I have always known how generous and compassionate City College is as a place, but it still never fails to astound me the levels of support shown by our students, staff and supporters. It is very special to be part of such an amazing community.

“Being able to support something such as this is important to the College, especially when we consider our strategic action that seeks to have a positive impact on the health and wellbeing of the local community.”

The City College foodbank is open to students experiencing financial hardship, with all referrals treated in a confidential and sensitive manner. If you need support, please e-mail [email protected] or alternatively visit the Students’ Union.

The ARC redistributes surplus food and essentials to charities, community support groups and local causes across Plymouth and South East Cornwall. It is supported by Food Plymouth and is part of the Plymouth Food Aid Network and relies on volunteers, You can find out more about the Aid Redistribution Centre by visiting its Facebook page or e-mailing [email protected].