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Students' acts of kindness help struggling families during lockdown

26th November 2020

When Molly Mathis-Hall found out families were going hungry over the school holidays, the third-year Northumbria University student felt compelled to help.

What started as a few donations to a foodbank in South Tyneside, quickly snowballed into a mass student effort to ensure food parcels were delivered to struggling families the length and breadth of the North East.

Molly, who is a third-year Primary Education student, began her volunteering efforts when she found out that the Government would not be extending free school meals for children in England over the October half-term holiday.

“As not only a student teacher, but as a human being, this news really upset me,” she said. “Families are struggling more than ever during this Covid-19 pandemic and the decision to stop providing free school meals to hungry children in the school holidays, made me realise I had to do something.

“I did a large food shop and took it to my nearest foodbank. I thought a few other students on my course might want to do the same, so I sent a message to our year group chat, and I couldn’t believe how many people responded.

“The word quickly spread and around 100 students on my course, and lecturers, pledged to either donate money to buy groceries or deliver food parcels themselves to foodbanks across the region.”

Molly set up a JustGiving fundraising page and used the hundreds of pounds raised to buy groceries for foodbanks at Hebburn Helps in South Tyneside, Wansbeck Valley in Northumberland, Pennyman Primary Academy in Middlesbrough, Cambois Primary School in Northumberland and Loaves and Fishes in Sunderland.

She also recruited an army of volunteer drivers, made up of students from her course. Jodi Wakefield, Sarah Pritchard, Elliott Leybourne and Julia Chape found precious time in between studying and their student placements to deliver groceries, often hundreds of miles apart, to foodbanks across the North East.

The charitable students also sought the help of the University’s Primary Education Society, who helped promote their volunteering efforts via social media.

Joanna Hume, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Social Work, Education and Community Wellbeing, praised Molly and her fellow students for their far-reaching act of kindness, at a time when many families across the region are struggling to make ends meet.

“Students join our Primary Education programmes with a genuine desire to make a difference,” she said. “We’ve been so impressed by the way these students have worked together, freely giving their time and money to improve the lives of some of our most disadvantaged local children.”

Northumbria University is a centre of excellence for initial teacher education and is ranked 9th in Education in the UK, according to the Guardian University League Tables 2020.









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