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The Corporation

Posted: 03/06/16

Shopping trolley challenge helps the homeless

Homelessness charities have once again been boosted by donations of essential provisions, thanks to kind-hearted students and staff at West Nottinghamshire College.

Students, staff and charity representatives with 10 of the shopping trolleys filled with food, clothing and toiletries.

Twelve shopping trolleys were piled high with food, clothing and toiletries in an annual initiative known as the ‘554 Challenge’.

Held annually since 2011, the initiative was first devised by computer science curriculum manager Trudi Dean after she delivered tutorials to students on the subject of homelessness. Named after the challenge’s original aim of getting ‘5’ teams to fill ‘5’ shopping trolleys ‘4’ the homeless, it has grown bigger each year – with virtually all areas of the college contributing much-needed items over a four-week period.

Charities benefitting from this year’s challenge – led by learner development coach Lee Bunting – are the Beacon Project, the Hall Homeless Support Project, Framework, and Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Refugee Forum (NNRF).

Representatives from some of these organisations attended a presentation at the college’s Derby Road campus on Friday 27 May to receive their share of the bumper collection.

In collecting their much-needed items, Gary Lawson and Wendy Marshall from Framework, which runs a 15-bed facility on Sherwood Street, Mansfield, and Ann Mendham from the Beacon Project, which operates a day centre for the homeless from the town’s St. John’s Church, gave thanks to students and staff for their generosity.

Ann said: “This is fabulous. To know that students and staff are thinking about people less fortunate than themselves is really heart-warming. Everything that has been donated is very gratefully received.

“Our charity mainly works with the homeless but we also help people to access advice and support from other organisations if they need it. We like to think of the Beacon Project as a sanctuary for our service-users.”

The Beacon Project will share its donation with sister organisation the Hall Homeless Support Project, which provides twice-weekly drop-in sessions at St Peter’s Centre, on Churchside, Mansfield.

Meanwhile, provisions were personally-delivered to NNRF by Mr Bunting, who was given a tour of its Nottingham centre which supports refugees and asylum-seekers.

Mr Bunting said: “It has been an absolute pleasure to lead on the project. It’s humbling to know we’re helping these essential charities, and students have said it’s great that they can give something back to the community.

“Thousands of items were kindly brought in over the last month and we’ve been able to gather some clothing and toys for children in this year’s collection too, as there are many vulnerable children living in our communities who need our support.

“Our sincere thanks to the Chesterfield Road branch of Tesco and the Nottingham Road branch of Sainsbury’s for contributing many items of food and for the generous use of their trolleys.”