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Improving community engagement and partnerships/by Matt Hamnett
Changing lives by making a positive impact on local communities has remained a key priority for the Conferencing and Catering Teams.
In 2019 / 2020, strong working relationships were enhanced with Leeds City College to facilitate a Graduation ceremony for their ‘Children’s University’, and a rewarding relationship was forged with the Chapeltown Youth Development Centre by providing food donations and Christmas gifts for children.
In partnership with Leeds City College, the University supported the ‘Children’s University’ in 2019 by hosting a Graduation Ceremony for 500, Year 7 students. The Children’s University aims to help children and families from the most deprived areas of the city to raise aspirations and encourage them to aim high in secondary school.
As this aligned with the University values, the team were keen to support the initiative and hosted the Graduation Ceremony at the University’s Great Hall, one of the most prestigious venues at Leeds. They went to great lengths to make this a memorable occasion for the children by providing formal graduation attire including ceremonial caps and gowns. As well as hosting the ceremony and associated festivities, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Student Education, Professor Tom Ward was invited to present the accolades to the students and deliver an inspirational speech.
Building on this success, Leeds City College decided to turn this into an annual event. However, in 2020, the pandemic restrictions meant things had to be delivered on a smaller scale and locally within each school involved. The team’s commitment to making this an enjoyable experience remained strong and their support was illustrated through the donation of 160 hand-decorated personalised biscuits for every child at the event.
Following the announcement of the national lockdown in March 2020 the catering requirements across the University were drastically reduced to provide only an essential service. In line with the Catering team’s commitment to providing a sustainable service and reducing food waste, they reached out to the Chapeltown Youth Development Centre to support their “Let’s Eat” Foodbank project by redistributing food that would have otherwise gone to waste. Furthermore, in support of the School Meals Campaign led by footballer Marcus Rashford, the team provided the centre with 100 packed lunches and breakfast cereals daily during the school holidays.
As Christmas approached, colleagues organised a Christmas Present Appeal and asked staff from across the service to donate any new and unused toys. Many remote staff supported the initiative by ordering gifts to be delivered directly to the University. In total, eight large Christmas sacks filled with toys were donated across children and families in Leeds.
The University’s “Too Good To Go” app ensured surplus cooked meals were made available at very reduced prices at the end of each day. This useful app impacted greatly on some regular customers from the local community who utilise the service regularly as it is cheaper and easier than cooking for themselves.
Supporting the local community continued right through to the end of term with the “End of Term Big Clear Out”, an initiative led by local councillors in collaboration with the University of Leeds and Leeds Beckett. The team collected unwanted clothing, household items and food donated by students and items from vacated student properties and delivered them to storage centres, which would later be donated to charities in the local community.
Leeds City College
Read about our customer focussed services, 2020 to 2021
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