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The Corporation

Posted: 19/12/19

Caring students and staff rally round to help the homeless

Kind-hearted students and staff at West Nottinghamshire College have donated a host of sleeping bags and waterproof rucksacks to the homeless, to help them keep warm and dry this winter.

Chloe Phillips and Danni Rushby (third and fourth left) from TurnerFox collect the donated items from Students' Union representatives (from left) Josh Levy, Callan Kemp and Ayeisha Chapman, and computer science students Nicole Parker and Ben Allen.

It came after they responded to an appeal by Mansfield-based recruitment agency TurnerFox, which called on local businesses to purchase a sleeping bag to ease the plight of rough-sleepers this Christmas in a bid to “give back to the community”.

A three-day fundraising campaign by the Students’ Union at the Derby Road campus, Mansfield, involving cake sales and a raffle with prizes including meals-for-two in college restaurants Refined and Relish, plus collections by students and staff in the computer science department, raised almost £355.

This week (Tuesday 17 December) the college handed over 15 thermal and waterproof sleeping bags and three waterproof dry bags to representatives of TurnerFox, purchased from local branches of Sports Direct and Millets, who gave generous discounts on the items to support the students’ fundraising efforts.

The cake sale and raffle – which raised a combined £255 towards the final total – was led by Students’ Union (SU) members Callan Kemp and Josh Levy, both 17, aided by the SU’s vice-president for the Derby Road campus Ayeisha Chapman, 19, with the support of the catering department. College chef Sonia Clark also donated a brand-new sleeping bag to the cause.

A further £98 was raised by the computer science department, which decided to organise a collection of its own after hearing about the trio’s efforts, enabling it to contribute three sleeping bags and three rucksacks towards the college collection.

Level 3 Extended Diploma in Music Technology student Callan, the SU’s events champion, said: “As soon as we heard about the appeal by TurnerFox, we simply had to get involved. We originally hoped to purchase two sleeping bags but, thanks to the generosity of students and staff at the Derby Road campus, and the support of the computer science and catering departments, we exceeded our expectations by donating 15 sleeping bags and three rucksacks.

“Homelessness is a massive issue and it’s awful to know there are people in our communities who will spend Christmas and winter on the streets. By providing them with warm and waterproof sleeping bags and rucksacks to keep their belongings in, we hope this at least makes life a little more comfortable for them during the harsh conditions.”

Through its ‘Keep a Homeless Person Warm this Winter’ campaign, TurnerFox Recruitment hopes to receive dozens of sleeping bags, which are being donated by local firms in the lead-up to Christmas.

With temperatures set to plummet this winter, the firm will hand them over to The Salvation Army. Although the charity receives donations all-year round to assist those in need, items such as sleeping bags are rarely donated and make a significant difference to the quality of life for those on the streets.

Meanwhile, the waterproof rucksacks will go to The Beacon Project – a long-running day centre for the homeless, run by St John’s and St Mary’s churches, Mansfield.

Michelle Fox, director at TurnerFox Recruitment, said: “We have been completely overwhelmed by the generosity of the local community throughout this campaign to collect sleeping bags for the homeless.

“The students and staff at West Notts College have gone absolutely above and beyond to donate to this amazing cause through donations, bake sales and raffle tickets. With little notice they managed to raise enough money to purchase 15 sleeping bags and three rucksacks! We cannot thank them enough for their efforts.”