Harlesden teacher wins award for creating a foodbank during the pandemic

Susan Grace has won a social outreach award after creating a foodbank during the pandemic

Susan Grace has won a social outreach award after creating a foodbank during the pandemic - Credit: Newman Catholic College

A Harlesden secondary school teacher has won an award for creating a foodbank and leading its team.

Susan Grace, assistant headteacher at Newman Catholic College, in Harlesden Road, received the Diocese of Westminster’s Secondary School Social Outreach Award at a virtual celebration on June 2.

The range of nominations received included befriending the elderly, supporting the unemployed, visiting refugees, running foodbanks, and serving the homeless.

The all-boys Catholic school promotes an ethos of serving the Common Good, so when staff witnessed how many families were having difficulties buying enough food during the pandemic–some had got into debt waiting for their first payment of Universal Credit, or were asylum seekers with no recourse to public funds – they decided to put their faith into action.

Susan said: “This award is for our team who have been amazing in their commitment to running the foodbank, together we have gone from strength to strength.”

Susan Grace

Susan Grace - Credit: NCC

She organised a team of teachers, support staff and students, and set up a foodbank.

With the support of Caritas Westminster and the construction company Wates, the service has grown and is now housed in a port-a-cabin, from where the team serves 15-20 families each week.

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They were able to support a Syrian refugee family living in a single hotel room in Wembley, who had no money and no recourse to public funds, by giving them bags of food that did not need to be cooked or refrigerated.

The team has given up time during holidays to ensure the foodbank could keep running, and involved students from the older years of the school who gained confidence in social skills and experience in dealing with clients.

NCC headteacher, Danny Coyle, said: “The team responded to need, because every person in our school community has a right to a positive life and to the material and spiritual support required to live a truly human existence.

"They have supported our Harlesden community come rain or shine since the start of the first lockdown. It gives testimony to the school's commitment to the Common Good and our collective determination to support as many people as possible.”