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The Corporation

Posted: 03/02/20

College donates more sleeping bags to the homeless

A charity and local business have praised the generosity of students and staff at West Nottinghamshire College for providing more vital aid to the homeless.

  • Stephen Hicks, of Mansfield Salvation Army (third left) and Danni Rushby, of TurnerFox Recruitment (third right) receive the six sleeping bags from students (from left) Lewis Thacker, Ayeisha Chapman, Josh Levy and Callan Kemp.
  • Accounting tutor Crystal Hawes receives the hamper from Josh Levy (left) and Callan Kemp (right).

The Mansfield branch of the Salvation Army has been handed six thermal and waterproof sleeping bags from the college, which also donated 15 before Christmas.

It followed an appeal by local recruitment agency TurnerFox, which called on local businesses to donate the much-needed items to ease the plight of rough-sleepers this winter.

A three-day fundraising campaign by the college’s Students’ Union (SU) in December raised almost £355, which saw it purchase more than a dozen sleeping bags and three waterproof rucksacks.

These were handed over to staff from TurnerFox, which provided almost 40 sleeping bags to the Salvation Army Church and Community Centre at Christmas following donations by firms across the town.

Each participating business was entered into a prize draw, with the chance to win a Christmas hamper – and the college was drawn as the lucky winner.

But instead of keeping the hamper, the Students’ Union decided to raffle it off in a bid to raise more funds towards the appeal. The raffle was run by SU members Josh Levy and Callan Kemp, both 17, supported by president of the Derby Road campus Lewis Thacker, 16, and vice-president Ayeisha Chapman, 19.

The hamper raffle, plus a separate raffle by staff and students in college restaurant Relish before Christmas, raised a combined £131 – enough to buy a further six sleeping bags, aided by a generous discount from Mansfield’s Sports Direct store.

The additional bags have now been given to representatives of the Salvation Army and TurnerFox by the four students, taking the total number donated by local firms to 44. Of these, the college provided 21 – more than any other organisation in Mansfield – after it raised almost £500 through both fundraising campaigns.

Media student Josh said: “It was very important to us that we used the hamper to raise more funds towards the sleeping bags campaign. We hoped to raise enough money to buy one or two additional bags, so to donate a further six was fantastic. We’re extremely grateful to everybody who purchased a ticket and made a donation.

“For the college to raise almost £500 towards this initiative makes us feel extremely proud. The impact these sleeping bags will have on each individual is massive. That’s 21 people who will get to sleep in the warmth during these cold months.”

The hamper was scooped by accounting tutor Crystal Hawes, who said: “I’m really happy to win the raffle but more importantly, very proud to support this really worthy cause. It’s great to see the whole college community get involved in supporting this charitable initiative.”

A homeless night shelter is currently being run in partnership between seven churches in Mansfield, with each church building accommodating rough-sleepers one night per week. The Salvation Army runs its night shelter each Thursday evening from its community room at the church building in Victoria Street.

The charity distributes the sleeping bags to homeless people who are unable to use its night shelter because of issues such as alcohol or drug misuse, and those who choose to not access support services.

Stephen Hicks, community programme co-ordinator at Mansfield Salvation Army Church and Community Centre, said: “It’s heartening that young people are thinking about others in society less fortunate than themselves. To know that students are beginning to pick up on responsibilities and have made the effort to make a difference to other people’s lives is marvellous.

“Each sleeping bag will help a homeless person keep warm and survive, no matter how cold it gets.

“Well done to everyone at the college for thinking about vulnerable people who need our help.”

Michelle Fox, director at TurnerFox Recruitment, said: “We were thrilled to hear the college had decided to raffle off the hamper to raise even more money for sleeping bags. So the campaign lives on through the kind-hearted spirit of its students and staff, who have raised an extra £130 – enough for six more sleeping bags and a total of 21 donations.

“Thanks West Notts for helping us to make the campaign the huge success that it was.”