Students with a learning disability help locals in crisis by raising food donations for local food bank

Mencap Bedford Foodbank image

New initiative by Royal Mencap Society and The Harpur Trust to support 40 local young people with a learning disability develop employment skills

On Friday 9 January, eight students from St. John’sSchool in Biddenham delivered food collections to Bedford Foodbank, which provides emergency food and support to people experiencing crisis in the local community.

The students delivered food packages which they had collected at a Christmas party they organised in aid of the Foodbank at the end of last year. This effort was part of a joint initiative by Mencap and The Harpur Trust

One of the students, Ben, who was a DJ at the Christmas party and helped to deliver the food packages last Friday, said: 

“We all worked together and helped each other with things. Some bits were hard and some bits were easy. I want to DJ more often – everybody was moving. When you see everybody moving, you know the music is good! It did feel good helping the Foodbank. It was successful!”

Sarah Broughton, project manager at Bedford Foodbank, said: 

“It’s very flattering that the young people chose to support Bedford Foodbank as there are so many charities in the area. There is a huge need for food due to the current financial climate. Every donation is very much appreciated. It’s fantastic that the students are committed to supporting the Foodbank. In the future we will be able to show the young people the whole process from labelling to distribution.”

The students chose to support Bedford Foodbank as part of a Community Impact Project run by Mencap and funded with a £30,000 grant from The Harpur Trust. The project is one of five which will be taking place throughout Bedford from now until the summer.

Mencap and the Trust aim to support 40 young people with a learning disability to gain a qualification in employability, alongside delivering a project which has a positive impact on their local community. The students are able to develop important employment skills, whilst building confidence and self-esteem.

Jonathan Quarterman, education coordinator at Mencap, said: 

“We know that young people with a learning disability are three times more likely not to be in education, employment and training than young people without a learning disability. This project is therefore fundamental in improving the life chances of young people with a learning disability in Bedford and wouldn’t be possible without the support of The Harpur Trust.

“Friday was a great day for all the young people involved. After months of preparation and planning, they hosted a wonderful event where they had great success in raising awareness and collecting food for Bedford Foodbank. On Friday, they got to deliver their collection to people in the community who rely on the vital service. They should all feel incredibly proud of everything they have achieved!”

For more information about the Community Impact Project initiative, or to get involved, please contact Jonathan Quarterman, education coordinator at Mencap, on 07930 563 790 or Jonathan.Quarterman@mencap.org.uk

About Mencap 

There are 1.4 million people with a learning disability in the UK. Mencap works to support people with a learning disability, their families and carers by fighting to change laws, improve services and access to education, employment and leisure facilities. Mencap supports thousands of people with a learning disability to live their lives the way they want. www.mencap.org.uk

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