Pupils and staff help feed Birmingham!

As we begin to wind down towards the much needed summer holidays it has increasingly dawned on me that whilst I have been devoting lots of time to encouraging students to make the most of their newly timetabled CAS lessons, and promoting their tremendous efforts afterwards, I myself have failed to contribute nearly as much as they do. Like many of the King Edward’s staff, I have been inspired by some of the student efforts over the past term; whether it be Owen Swanborough’s origami initiative for Age Concern, the group of Fifths running the 2.6 campaign, Rohan Tandon’s team cycling around the world, the array of Lower School students delivering cakes to care homes and hospitals, or the number of students delivering food to food banks.

I have therefore resolved to practice what I preach as CAS coordinator and, inspired by many of our students, have set up a food bank collection point at my front door. The increased use of food banks over the past decade has been well documented (for example in this 2018 Birmingham Mail article) since the last recession of 2008. In responding to the current Covid crisis and a seemingly inevitable economic downturn, the Trussell Trust has reported that 81% more emergency food parcels are being distributed across the UK when compared to the same period in 2019. It seems that food banks are here to stay and therefore need to be supported with a collective sense of purpose, determination and empathy that have become positive characteristics of the public’s response to the pandemic.

How to set up your own Foodbank Collection Point  

It’s important to note that setting up a collection point has been incredibly easy, and as a result I intend to maintain the effort throughout the summer holidays. I have listed the steps that I took in setting up my own collection point in the hope that others in our KES community will follow suit during the summer holidays in this collective effort to ‘feed Birmingham’, though it should be noted that a wide range of food banks are in need of donations and readers may wish to research food banks closest to where they live.  

  1. Adapt the leaflet provided on the Feed Birmingham website: Add your own details. I simply left my name, my address and times that I would leave a big plastic box outside my front door. Feed Birmingham downloadable poster.
  2. Print out your leaflets and distribute them: I printed about 30 of the leaflets in week one and will probably try to broaden my scope for next week’s collection to about 50-60. I spent a pleasant 15 minute walk in the sunshine delivering these notes to my neighbours.
  3. Watch the food arrive: By the end of the week I had filled two large plastic containers. I was pretty pleased with this haul considering I had only dedicated a relatively small amount of time to the activity (less than 30 minutes!) It was about as much food as I would buy in a weekly shop for my family.
  4.  Deliver the food to St. Mary and St. Ambrose Car Park (B5 7RA) between 11am and 2pm: This is just on the corner of the Pershore Road and Raglan Road so only 5-10 minutes from home. 

It couldn’t have been easier!

Ronav Jain (UMW) and Harry Hawkesford (RMS) reflect upon setting up their own food bank collection points:

“Inspired by the updated CAS During Closure booklet on Firefly and after reading this leaflet, I decided to help the wider community by setting up a food bank collection point, as part of the #feedbirmingham initiative. It was simple; I accessed the template to send around and inserted all my required details, so that food could easily be delivered to my house. Once I had printed out several copies (though you could just as easily download the letter online), I cycled round my neighbourhood and posted numerous letters. Soon after, we received some boxes and bags of food and other non-perishable items which are in great need in the current Covid crisis. My neighbours were glad to give anything spare they had – which was a lot in some cases! On Friday of this week or next, I will donate all my items and those I have received to Erdington Food Bank. If you are unsure where your local food bank is situated, visit the Trussell Trust Website. I would thoroughly recommend you take part in this fantastic initiative. It is a simple but effective way to provide a source of help for the vulnerable people in our city, who have suffered immensely as a result of the pandemic.” Ronav Jain 

“During lockdown, I wanted to help out my community by doing a food collection for the local food bank. I had this idea from King Edward’s School, who provided us all with a CAS booklet which gave us some ideas of what to do during lockdown. I decided to help out the food bank, and, during the CAS periods that we had in our timetable, I wrote an email to the New Starts food bank, asking them what food that they were most in need of. They replied saying that they needed tinned foods the most, but anything would be helpful. With this information, I composed a letter to the residents of my street, and then I walked around my road, posting the letter through every doorway. Within this letter, I told them that I was going to be doing a food collection every Thursday, just after the Clap for Carers at 8pm. I also told them that the food bank required tinned meats the most, but anything would help. So, every Thursday after the Clap for Carers I walk around my road and collected the food that they have left outside their door. I then take all of my food that I have collected to the New Starts food banks in either Frankley or Bromsgrove. They were very grateful for these donations, as they said that in one month, they had sent out over 90,000 packages of food! After every collection we made sure to thank the residents in my road, as some nights we collected a lot of food! I strongly recommend that you do something like this as it makes you feel happier and proud, as you have helped someone who needs assistance.” Harry Hawkesford

Louis Bowker shares his CAS Project which aims to raise both funds and awareness with a 100km Fundraiser:

“In light of the school closure, we have had to make an adaptation to our CAS project. Inspired by recent fundraising efforts in the KES Community, we decided to persevere with our goal of supporting the most vulnerable members of society. Therefore, aligning with our initial aim of supporting food banks, our CAS group (Louis Bowker, Ky Johal, Mahathir Ibrahim, Fadhil Mir and Ben O’hara) will be embarking on a fundraising venture this Saturday to raise funds for the Trussell Trust. This will involve us collectively running and cycling 100km as fast as possible on July 4. We will be aiming to raise £250 for the charity and would appreciate any donations you could make to support our efforts.

We are aware that food banks currently need considerable support due to the repercussions of the pandemic and therefore wish to help in any way possible. If you would like to donate the link to our JustGiving page.”

So there you have it! 

After following the example of our students, I learned that I could make an important contribution to a social issue by dedicating less than an hour of my time each week. Hopefully after reading this article you might feel the itch to get involved yourself. For more information, take a look at The Feed Birmingham Information Poster or conduct your own research on the issue.

Author: AWP