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The University’s Research and Knowledge Transfer Office facilitates the money kindly donated by Santander UK and a total of £4,435 has been given to the following causes in Chester, Warrington, Wirral and Shrewsbury.

Soul Kitchen in Chester started life as a soup kitchen, providing hot meals, but now also provides clothing, toiletries, showers and toilets for the homeless and disadvantaged. Helen Anthony of Soul Kitchen said: “Since lockdown, our priority has been to ensure that all those given temporary accommodation in the Government’s Everyone In campaign are receiving healthy nutritious meals. Soul Kitchen, with the support of 13 local restaurants, two businesses, five churches and a community group, is providing hot meals every night. We have been doing this now for nearly eight weeks. The funding we have received will allow us to continue to feed all those who need it for an extended period.”

Wirral Ark provides accommodation for the homeless and a gateway for those looking to secure permanent long-term accommodation. The donation will help the Ark to stay operational, offering essential support to our society’s most vulnerable people. This includes food and hygiene packages; helping maintain its new befriending service and will contribute to maintaining the necessary support to help society’s most vulnerable people through this very difficult time. Aydin Djemal: Wirral Ark CEO, said: “This donation arrives a critical time for homeless people, who are among those most adversely affected by the lockdown and its aftermath. With income falling and demand increasing, this donation will help Wirral Ark make a real difference to the lives of homeless men and women during this crisis and we are immensely thankful to receive it.”

The Holy Trinity Church, Blacon/West Cheshire Food Bank received funding to help purchase food for the disadvantaged. The Blacon church joined forces with a number of charities to form the Blacon Action Team at the start of lockdown, which provides a co-ordinated response for those who need food. Families or individuals who are in receipt of benefits are able to collect a food parcel every week from one of two hubs in the community. About 60 households who are unable to collect and do not have a relative or neighbour who can collect the food have it delivered to them. Around 220 food parcels are given out each week with food donated from local supermarkets or purchased from wholesalers. Tina Upton from the group, said: “We are immensely grateful for every donation, however large or small, as every little bit helps us to help those who are in greatest need in our community. It also is a great boost to us to know that the University of Chester cares about the work that we are doing.”

Western Avenue Community Store is based in Blacon, Chester, an area of high deprivation and diverts surplus food from supermarkets, food retailers and manufacturers and to local residents. As a result of its increased activity during the pandemic, the group urgently needed a freezer which they have been able to purchase thanks to this donation. Jamie Ducker from the group, said: “As a not for profit organisation, we are heavily reliant on extremely kind donations from organisations to allow us to continue our good work, and help improve the lives of families living in our community. We are very grateful, thank you!”

The Shrewsbury Food Hub stops food waste and provides leftover supermarket food to community groups. During the pandemic it has been supporting 25 community groups and provided food parcels to the most vulnerable. Katy Anderson from the group, said: “The funding will allow us access more good food, stopping it from going to waste and getting it into good use in our community. We are particularly grateful for the support during this challenging period, as we’ve had to completely reinvent the way that we work and we are striving to increase the amount that we collect from one tonne to two tonnes per week – that’s enough food for 4,760 meals.”

The Emergency Foodbank at Padgate Community Centre was set up in response to the pandemic and the need to get food to the most vulnerable. The donation is being spent on fresh food to supplement the kind tinned donations from members of the public. Sue Emery from the project, said: “Thank you for making such a difference to people who really are in genuine need.”

Prof Nick Avis, Pro Vice-Chancellor, Research and Knowledge Transfer Office, University of Chester, said: “It’s thanks to the generosity of Santander Universities UK that we have been able to support these vital local lifelines at a time when they have needed funds the most. It is truly inspiring to hear these stories of how communities have pulled together during this incredibly challenging time and we have been proud to support them.”

Matt Hutnell, Director, Santander Universities, said: “Santander is committed to supporting higher education as well as local communities across the UK so we’re pleased that our funding is able to be redirected to where it is most needed at this critical time. Universities are doing some fantastic work to contribute to the UK’s effort to combat the outbreak of COVID-19, so we’re delighted to collaborate with our university partners in a way which increases their response effort and look forward to continuing to work with them on supporting both students and the broader higher education community with further initiatives over the coming months.”

Find out more about the organisations at:

  • Facebook - @SoulKitchenChester Twitter - @soul_chester
  • @wirralark for Facebook, Twitter and Instagram
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