A fortnight today a unique event will be taking place in Oxford. To round off this year’s Student Volunteering Week the first-ever Oxford Good Deed Day will be held in the university city. At 10.30am and 2.30pm, in Bonn Square, flash mobs will be carrying out good deeds that have been suggested by local students and residents. Participants will be wearing official Student Volunteering Week T-shirts, and will leave behind Student Volunteering Week postcards with messages for those they have helped or cheered on their way. Afterwards, those who have taken part will meet for a free ‘tea and cake social’ (with musical entertainment), at which they will be required to present photographic evidence of their good deeds: these photos will then automatically be entered into a prize competition. Anyone wishing to take part can register HERE. And ideas for good deeds can be submitted HERE… or by emailing Ruth.email@example.com.
What a novel, lovely idea this is!
Harry Styles recently spent a day delivering Domino’s pizzas. But the pop heartthrob who celebrates his 19th birthday today wasn’t trying to supplement his income as a singer with boy band One Direction. In fact, he spent several thousand dollars on the pizzas, a few months ago, which he then delivered personally to LA’s homeless. Harry – who has recently hit the headlines for shedding tears over the world’s poor – is rapidly becoming known as the band’s chief philanthropist, and he has even been compared to Bob Geldof. Add to this his recent interest in philosophy and one suspects that this teen could become quite a force to be reckoned with.
Crest Co-operative, based in Llandudno Junction, North Wales is a sustainable recycling business that operates various initiatives:
- diverting functional, household and electrical goods and food away from landfill;
- selling restored household items at affordable costs;
- giving food to homeless and vulnerable people.
In the process it also creates employment for the long-term unemployed, people with disabilities, and ex-offenders. Since 2012 the social enterprise has worked to ensure in-date food does not go to waste. National and local food manufacturers donate quality surplus food, which is then redistributed by Crest Co-operative to 28 community groups across North Wales. These groups then prepare meals for homeless and vulnerable people. In the last nine months Crest Co-operative has:
- diverted 56 tonnes of in-date, quality food away from landfill, contributing to meals for vulnerable people at 28 community groups in North Wales;
- diverted 69 tonnes of household items destined for landfill and restored and sold them to the public at a low cost through its community stores;
- created 509 work placements and employment opportunities, such as workshop assistants, van driver’s assistants, retail assistants and work placements assisting adults with learning disabilities;
- created almost 5,000 hours of volunteering opportunities;
- provided 2,391 hours of community service – those who work in this service are less likely to become repeat offenders.
Photo: Charlie, at the end of his 600-mile fundraising cycle ride.
A young fundraiser for Mary’s Meals has landed a surprise trip to Malawi.
Last June we considered 9-year-old Martha Payne, at the centre of the school dinners row, and her fundraising work for the charity Mary’s Meals. Now, news has emerged of a 12-year-old from Crawley, Sussex (UK) – Charlie Doherty – who has been supporting the charity since he was 6 years old, and has raised a total of more than £20,000, by foregoing birthday presents, cycling 600 miles over three weeks, and carrying out various other fundraising activities… even donating his own personal backpack.
Charlie sponsors Ipyana Primary School, in Malawi, and his efforts mean that all 1,429 children there get a daily meal from Mary’s Meals throughout the school year. The meals, which are served by volunteers, encourage children to attend school, thus helping them find a way out of poverty. Mary’s Meals began feeding 200 children in Malawi after its founder and chief executive Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow visited the country in 2002. It now feeds more than 700,000 every school day, in a total of 16 countries, at a cost of around £10.70 per child, per year.
In a new documentary film, Child 31, Charlie explains how one meal a day can make all the difference to a school-age child, and tells of his work to support this worthwhile charity. Through the efforts of people such as Charlie, “thousands of children, who would otherwise be hungry and working for their next meal, are instead sitting in a classroom with a full stomach, learning how to read and write.”
Now, in recognition of his amazing fundraising efforts the 12-year-old has received a surprise Christmas present during a charity hike up Mount Snowdon, Wales. His mum informed him at the end of the hike that through the generosity of family and friends he was being flown out to Malawi later this month, to spend his birthday at the school he has been supporting through the ‘Sponsor a School’ campaign run by Mary’s Meals. Charlie, who has dreamed of making such a trip for several years, says he is very excited about meeting the children and seeing the charity in action.
Photo credit: SkÃ¥nska Matupplevelser/Flikr
Here’s an excellent website for the New Year: Optimist World – providing inspiration for all optimists (and those who aspire to be)!
Back in the summer Optimist World published an article on a very successful social enterprise in my home city of Bristol. Effectively a food bank – which I promised a few days ago I would try to feature more, in the coming months – it is especially relevant to this blog, because it is run by young people. Students at the University of Bristol set up FoodCycle Bristol in 2009, and it has been fully operational now for almost three years. The initiative, which aims to alleviate food poverty in the city, operates weekly from the Easton Community Centre, serving free three-course meals to around 50 people every Sunday: so far it has served more than 2,000 free meals. It also now runs a fortnightly pop-up restaurant, feeding 120 students: it charges them £3 a head, to keep the project self-sustaining.
This year FoodCycle Bristol, which is totally operated by more than 500 students and community volunteers, made nearly £3,000 profit, and it hopes to open a second community kitchen very soon. One key to its success is the heavy involvement of the local community, ensuring the availability of unwanted food that would otherwise go to waste: volunteers deliver this to the kitchen in bicycle trailers.
A few months ago the enterprise achieved well-deserved recognition by being named ‘Best Social Enterprise’, at the SETsquared Partnership’s second annual student enterprise awards.