Wisbech school becomes first in the Fens to allow left over food to be donated to the homeless

Thomas Clarkson Academy associate principal Richard Scott (left) and members of the academy’s cateri

Thomas Clarkson Academy associate principal Richard Scott (left) and members of the academy’s catering team hand over leftover food to Keith Smith, director of the Ferry Project. - Credit: Archant

Thomas Clarkson Academy has become the first school in the area to start regularly donating its leftover food to the homeless.

The academy has teamed up with the Luminus Ferry Project, a charity which offers support and services to the homeless in Fenland.

TCA will be forging close links with the charity to support those in need in any way it can.

A key part of the partnership is already under way – the donation of hot and cold food leftover from lunchtime meals. The academy’s catering team work with the shelter on a day-by-day basis and if there is anything suitable to be handed over, they call the Ferry team after lunch to arrange a collection that afternoon.

The first day saw staff handing over sausages, jacket potatoes, vegetables and crumble, which provided a hot meal to everyone using the night shelter for two days.

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Keith Smith, the Ferry Project’s director, said: “Some of our clients will have been on the street all day with no access to cooking facilities. We give them emergency accommodation and as part of that we feed them. Having this extra food from Thomas Clarkson Academy provides them with a more balanced diet.

“This is the first time we’ve received on-going donations from a school and it’s definitely a first in the Fens. We fundraise to keep the shelter going so these donations from Thomas Clarkson Academy save us from having to use that money to pay for food.”

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Mr Smith said he hoped the partnership between the academy and the Ferry Project could be reciprocal, with students using their facilities, including the Queen Mary Centre, for things like a popup restaurant or a temporary art gallery.

There are also hopes that students could get involved with fundraising, volunteering in certain areas of the charity and practical projects such as helping to refurbish its facilities.

He said: “We see this as a two-way approach. Firstly, we want to educate young people about how they can plan their lives and take steps to ensure they never have to use our services.

“Secondly, it’s about helping others. The volunteer organisation NCVO is campaigning to get young people involved in volunteering because they say that if people start in school, they continue to give for the rest of their lives.”

Sadie Cooper, speaking on behalf of the catering team, said that in a large kitchen serving lots of students and staff, there can be a small amount of food left over at the end of the day.

She said: “It’s nice to be able to help others and support the local community. “They’ve been really pleased with what we’ve been able to give them so far.”

Associate principal Richard Scott said: “Thomas Clarkson Academy is a community school and our students and staff feel it’s very important to recognise the difficulties some people in the local community face. We have an acute awareness of the good work being done by the Ferry Project and we believe we have a responsibility to help them as best we can.”

The Ferry Project provides an emergency night shelter with 18 beds, a 24-bed hostel and ‘move on’ accommodation for those who need a bit of extra support to live independently. In total, the charity supports around 70 people at any one time.

The academy has also started collecting toiletries which will be donated to the Ferry Project.

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