Caring college students give ‘vital’ help to the homeless

Andrea Lound, of Framework, and Tina Barnes, of the Hall Homeless Support Project, join students, staff and principal Dame Asha Khemka with the shopping trolleys.
Andrea Lound, of Framework, and Tina Barnes, of the Hall Homeless Support Project, join students, staff and principal Dame Asha Khemka with the shopping trolleys.

Homelessness charities have thanked kind-hearted students in Mansfield for donating “vital” food, clothes, toiletries and money as part of an annual appeal.

Seven supermarket shopping trolleys were filled with the essential items in an annual initiative, known as the ‘554 Challenge’, at West Nottinghamshire College.

The name reflects the challenge’s original aim of getting five curriculum areas to fill five trolleys for the homeless. These days, virtually all areas of the college, including staff, contribute over four weeks.

Charities benefiting from the challenge are The Beacon project, based in Mansfield, the Hall Homeless Support Project, also of Mansfield, Framework and Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Refugee Forum (NNRF).

Framework’s centre on Sherwood Street, Mansfield offers emergency accommodation for those who have been sleeping rough or are at immediate risk of doing so. Assistant manager Andrea Lound said: “A lot of people who come to our hostel have nothing until their statutory benefits come through, and many are on very low incomes. Topping up their food through this type of collection helps them survive.

“We rely on donations. It’s so thoughtful of the students. It also makes them aware of the hardships in society and what can happen to people. It’s lovely of them to get together and help those in need.”

The Hall Homeless Support Project runs drop-in sessions at St Peter’s Centre where the needy receive a hot meal, food parcels and clothes. Trustee Tina Barnes said: “Donations such as these are absolutely vital. Not long ago, we were desperately running out of money, but the college really supported us through fundraising and got us back on our feet again.”

The initiative was co-ordinated by West Notts’s learner development coach Lee Bunting, who said: “The entire college has pulled together to help homeless people in Mansfield and Ashfield. We talk to students about the issue all year round through tutorials and other activities. Huge thanks to Morrisons for donating the trolleys.”

One of the students, 19-year-old Ebony Reed, said: “Many don’t realise the scale of homelessness, so it’s important to raise awareness and do what we can.”