A group of social work students from Magee have donated over 170 hampers to the Churches Trust to try to ensure families suffering the injustice of food poverty have some chance of enjoying some festive cheer this Christmas.
Two of the students from the Stand Up for Social Work Society Christmas food bank campaign, which is supporting the Churches Trust Pantry Project for the third year, said charity was one way of redressing unfair economic imbalances but said the fact poverty existed was a ‘government problem’ that needed to be addressed.
Mairead O Kane, a final year social work student at Magee, commented: “As social work students, we have gained an understanding and knowledge of the challenges and increasing needs families face in today’s society.”
“The introduction of Universal Credit will result in more families experiencing working poverty.”
Natasha Rutherford, another final year student, added: “This is happening in our local communities with families living just down the street or around the corner. This is not just a community problem. It is a government problem. It is a problem for us all. That is why we think it so important to get this message out there and help raise awareness of the increasing needs and the issue of food poverty.”
Students and staff from across the Magee campus and the wider university community pulled their resources and entrepreneurial skills together to raise funds for food for the people of Derry. This included Crowdfunding, a Christmas raffle, donations of food and their own time to wrap and organise all the hampers.
The campaign pointed out how a briefing paper from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation in 2018 highlighted that 20 per cent of the population in the North are living in relative poverty. This equates to approximately 370,000 people.
Denise MacDermott, the students’ course director, said: “I am extremely proud of our students and what they have achieved with this campaign, they are using their social work knowledge and leadership skills to take action against food poverty in the North West.”
The students extended a huge thank you to Sainsbury’s, Strand Road, for their continued support, The Ferrero Group for their generous donations of chocolates and to everyone who donated raffle prizes to help our fundraising campaign.
Without the generosity of the students and staff across the University the campaign would not have succeeded, they said.