Littlehampton Academy staff volunteers reach impressive milestone while helping vulnerable students
Staff volunteers at The Littlehampton Academy have delivered their 10,000th meal to vulnerable students and their families during the coronavirus pandemic.
After the lockdown began in March, staff formed a team to make, pack and deliver hot meals to around 30 families for the first two weeks of lockdown, followed by the weekly delivery of food boxes.
Freddie Tandy, who is a teacher at the academy and also a Littlehampton Councillor, said: “In our last few days in school before we closed back in March, we were already having discussions about how we could support our vulnerable students and their families in what was to become a totally unprecedented situation.
“We managed to deliver more than 1,000 hot meals in the two weeks that followed lockdown, but when demand for the service continued to increase rapidly, it quickly became clear that there was no way we were going to be able to safely sustain such a service.”
As a result, the team of volunteers turned their attention to creating food boxes that would allow families to complement the free-school meal vouchers they were receiving, enabling them to create two freshly-cooked, nutritious meals at home.
Paul Sanderson, the chaplain at the academy, explained “The food box idea started when we were contacted by Morrisons in Wick, who offered us access to around £1,000 worth of stock each week, which we were delighted to use as the basis for our food boxes, before passing what was left to Littlehampton Food Bank for them to use for their own fantastic work.”
The volunteers from the Academy are now packing around 85 boxes each Thursday, feeding more than 300 mouths each week, with teachers and support staff from across the academy volunteering to be part of a small team that delivers the boxes.
In the three months the
project has been running, 47 separate members of academy staff have volunteered to be part of the programme, on top of their efforts to continue to provide education through online learning and platforms.
Paul Sanderson explained that the delivery aspect was particularly important: “I think the fact we are delivering these directly to students’ doors in a socially distanced manner is hugely beneficial, as it means we get to check in with our students and their families each week, identifying any issues or concerns that might have developed, and doing anything we can to make this really horrific time just that little bit more bearable for our community.
“We’ve already helped beyond food with provisions like sanitary products, books to read, and even white goods like fridge-freezers and washing machines!”
Freddie added: “TLA has always tried hard to be at the heart of our community. These months have helped us build stronger relationships with our families, which has in turn helped us to understand how best to respond to their needs by listening, caring and reaching out.”
In addition to the weekly support from Morrisons, the project has also been financially supported by Sussex Community Foundation, Sussex Police and the Tesco Bags for Life scheme, along with a number of generous donations from TLA staff, local residents and local churches, including All Saints Wick, Parkside Evangelical Church as well as the Rotary Club of Littlehampton.
Reflecting on the generosity of spirit that the pandemic has brought out in the community, Freddie said: “It really has been an incredible response from the Littlehampton community to what we are doing, from the really generous financial support we’ve been given, which has allowed us to add further products to the boxes each week, right through to the waves we received and pictures we’ve had drawn for us by some of the young people benefitting from the food boxes.”
As the summer holidays approach, the programme will slowly be wound down over the coming weeks, finishing with a summer special box, including treats and goodies to help the families see through the holidays, before a return to some sort of normality in September.