Hi, I’m Michelle Pemberton, Community Director for JCI Bradford. Earlier this year a group of members came together as a team to come up with a new project, collectively we considered the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDG) and chose MDG One, to help eradicate extreme poverty and hunger and we agreed on a Harvest Festival within the Bradford area.
At first we thought about doing something to help the food banks because they would engage a lot of people who are vulnerable and less fortunate. After a lot of thought we decided that we needed to aim our project at elderly. We thought about the cold winters and how the elderly struggle to survive the horrendous weather conditions we have been experiencing over the past few years. With that we decided we would gather food parcels put together by donations of food from local businesses. The donations would be non-perishable food with good expiry dates on them. So we went away and gathered some research and came up with a draft project plan.
As a child I always remembered making a little basket of food and taking it into school for the harvest festival to give to the poor. This annual event was always popular and filled me with a sense of pride. I thought how lovely it would be to revive the harvest festival I loved doing as a child.
The research started and we searched for agencies working with the elderly to find ways to help them, this proved unsuccessful because the agencies had already got funding and plans in place.
Feeling a little gutted, I needed a Plan B so thinking cap back on I looked at agencies working with vulnerable people and came across charities working with the homeless and less fortunate.
I sent a few emails out and had the pleasure of visiting one of the agencies and what an eye opener it was! I could not believe that such a little place could do so much good and help so many people. It was inspiring to walk around and talk about the different services they offer on a daily basis. They told me they feed over 200 people per meal time in a day. That’s a lot of food! They also prepare food parcels for people to take home if they are struggling to feed themselves or their families. Not only do they feed people, but they help clothe them with donated clothes, they offer mental and physical health advice and have a doctor that comes in each week if they are in need. These services are only a few of what they do but it was truly amazing to see.
We discussed what we intended to do with the project and they were delighted to receive donations from the project. Now we had an agency to work with so we just needed donations. With time running out we also decided to get schools involved to collect donations of food.
I sent out some emails in July hoping to start the project when the children went back to school in September. Disheartened by no replies I was starting to lose hope but thinking about it now I realise the timing was wrong as it is such a busy time for schools with it being the end of an academic year.
July and August flew by and suddenly in early September a reply came from one of my emails I had sent. Dixons Music academy replied saying they would love to be involved and what a wonderful idea it was! Eek! I was so excited! Then I sat back and thought, this is actually happening… our project is actually going to happen. Then to my surprise another email came on the same day from Iqra Primary School wanting to be involved, this was just the boost I needed. After that we had 3 more schools get involved Bradford Grammar School, Dixons Trinity Academy and Bankfoot Primary School.
The project started on Monday 23rd September and will end on Friday 25th October. We’ve provided all the schools involved with posters to explain what we are doing and what we need and they have arrange to send out letters to all their student’s parents requesting donations. We’ve already had a lot of food donated after just one day.
Watch this space for further updates as the appeal continues.
Categorised in: Charity
This post was written by Philip Cavalier-Lumley