Perhaps more than ever before, London is buzzing with the excitement of Christmas: from markets to advent calendars, it seems that the festivities draw closer with each passing year! However, while cost-of-living prices soar and many debate on whether traditions like Regent Street’s outdoor lights should even go ahead, charities are relying on donations more than ever to meet the demand of the cold winters in an economically hostile climate. As a result, several local schools are joining together to help food banks through the Trussell Trust, planting a seed of community spirit and hope that is both essential and welcome for those most in need in these upcoming months. 

Local branches of the Trussell Trust include Bromley Food Bank, a chain across the borough that has been working with schools like Darrick Wood Secondary to supply the demand, that is struggling to keep up with their donations. Dr. L Burroughs, a contributor to the partnership, explains “each year, the school now donates to our local branch... it means more to the students when they can donate to people who live so close to them, helping the community on a more local level”. According to the charity’s website, around 6,000 ‘food parcels’ have been donated annually over their twelve years of operation, donations from the public being most crucial to the collection. 

By donating their designated staple of sugar and tinned fruit, Darrick Wood have continued their tradition of donating to the food bank: “We’ve only donated in the past, but we are working on helping more in the future- our Year 12’s will do lots of volunteering for their CAS (the school’s tradition of volunteering hours as part of the Sixth Form efforts to help in the local community)... I feel that if we have a close relationship with the Food Bank, students can use their time to donate too”. Other local connections to the foodbank such as Hayes Secondary School have also helped in the past, lending a helping hand through their classrooms holding hundreds of non-perishable food and toiletries. By building and growing a broader network of schools and churches alike, the foodbank can distribute its parcels like it does, setting up 5 locations across the Bromley borough! 

Despite their continuous success and help from others such as Tesco Christmas food collections held in years prior to the pandemic, charities linked to the Trussell Trust have experienced an exponential surge in demand following the recent cost-of-living crisis. Across their 1,300 food banks in the UK, thousands of food parcels are sorted by 27,000 volunteers and donated to those in need, yet their overwhelming requests are growing quickly into the winter months. However, their volunteering work is not in vain and donations from schools and the public alike are still accepted with much appreciation. Dr. Burroughs explained:  “I think the school giving food rather than in other ways- for example, money- helps our community more directly as we know exactly where that donation is going”. 

It isn’t just the Trussell Trust that local schools are supporting, either: according to Dr. Burroughs, over £3,000 has been raised by Darrick Wood School for charities such as Breast Cancer Now and Children in Need since September 2022- they have also participated in a Macmillan coffee morning. As the school’s action towards giving back to the community grows, the students’ charitable ambitions do not stand still: “We are aiming to donate to charity in some way every month!”. This positive impact shows a true dedication to improving the lives of those so close to us, profoundly shining a light on those who need it this Christmas and making a real difference. 

You can find out more about how food banks work and how you can donate goods (and your time) to your local Trussell Trust network: