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School opens food bank to help struggling parents of pupils

PUBLISHED: 12:00 07 December 2018 | UPDATED: 14:54 11 December 2018

Debbie Ward and Omer Bashir with some of the donations and collecting boxes. Picture: Ken Mears

Debbie Ward and Omer Bashir with some of the donations and collecting boxes. Picture: Ken Mears

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A school in Canning Town is helping tackle the food bank crisis ahead of Christmas.

Debbie Ward, pupils Marius Nedelcu, Farhan Anisur and teacher Omer Bashir with some of the food bank donations. Picture: Ken MearsDebbie Ward, pupils Marius Nedelcu, Farhan Anisur and teacher Omer Bashir with some of the food bank donations. Picture: Ken Mears

Rokeby School in Barking Road set up its own food bank two weeks ago, in a bid to help parents struggling to make ends meet.

Donations are made into packages by behaviour mentor, Debbie Ward, and either sent to parents at home or left for them to collect.

“The reason we launched is because we have a housing crisis in the community at the moment,” said Omer Bashir, Year 10 coordinator and assistant with the food banks.

“A lot of our parents and students are affected by it. Many are in temporary accommodation and the need for food banks is rising.

Debbie Ward, pupils Marius Nedelcu, Farhan Anisur and teacher Omer Bashir with some of the food bank donations. Picture: Ken MearsDebbie Ward, pupils Marius Nedelcu, Farhan Anisur and teacher Omer Bashir with some of the food bank donations. Picture: Ken Mears

“We sent out letters to parents saying if you need help, come to the school.”

Donations boxes were set up at the back of classrooms and in reception for students and staff to donate before the schoolday begins. Mr Bashir said the reaction from both has been incredible.

“We’ve received a tremendous amount of items,” he said.

“The local governors have also given us money for Miss Ward to buy items.

“The students have reacted really well.”

According to food bank charity The Trussell Trust, they provided 1,723 emergency supplies to Newham between April and September – a threefold increase from 2017.

When Rokeby’s bank was launched, Mr Bashir said the students were given a lesson on the need for food banks, and the importance of giving.

“We emphasised to the students, it’s not about getting a reward,” he said.

“We want them to learn to be good contributors to society.”

The school are collecting food without expiry dates and hygiene products. Any leftover products get sent to local food banks, which the school is hoping to build relationships with in future.

Mr Bashir said: “It’s not something we want to do for a week or a month.

“It’s part of the school ethos to raise awareness of the community around us and there’s a record number of people using food banks now.

“There’s not enough being done, which is why we’re doing this. The first step was opening the bank, the next is reaching out to local banks.”

To donate to the Rokeby food bank, drop off an item at the box in reception.

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