Community Football Academy to cycle 300 miles from London to Paris for mental health awareness

Pictured: The charitable cyclists raising money for the mental health pandemic

By Jessica Smith

The Leicestershire based Community football academy training children and adults, is taking part in a huge 300-mile cycle to raise money for Mental Health Awareness this summer.

The ‘CFA Ride for The Future II’ is set to take place from August 12th – 15th, as volunteers and coaches from the academy plan to cycle from London Trafalgar Square to Paris, a mammoth distance of 300 miles in 48 hours.

Imran Govaria, 42, the academy’s volunteer social media and marketing correspondent, said: “Our charity work is not done for fame or fortune – CFA have a platform and we aim to use our influence in the community to raise awareness on the issue.

“Mental health affects everyone; and so many people still don’t feel comfortable speaking out, especially in the BAME community. That’s why we’re hoping by doing this challenge we’re able to raise money to educate the community to address this issue. We’ll be surviving on a minimum of 5 or 6 hours sleep, but it’s a sacrifice we’re willing to make to raise awareness for mental health.”

The academy aims to raise around £25, 000 with the donations to its GoFundMe page, as its 15-20 volunteers take part in the difficult cycle this summer, with support from local charity Rahma Mercy, which support refugees, giving a sizeable donation and increasing the charity’s reach.

The institute hopes to reopen their doors gradually from March 29th, with 300 children enrolled returning for training, which for some is the vital lifeline they need to stay off the streets. 

 “The academy offers an escape, and it’s amazing to see children smile and be themselves in a safe environment.

“There was nothing like this when I was a child, so it’s so important that they feel comfortable to approach coaches – safeguarding is key for us.

“Rain or shine, our volunteers are there for the children, because we care genuinely care about their futures,” added the father of four.

The academy has raised money in the past for many local causes; a 136-mile cycle last summer raised £20, 000 for Leicester General Hospital’s Neonatal unit, where most of the club’s members were born, a trip to Albania in 2019 to help local orphans, and a further fundraising challenge raised money for Help the Homeless Leicester.

“Charity starts at home, and that’s why we raise money for local charities. We’re a small academy trying to do a good thing for our community – this is just the beginning for us.”

Donations can be made at the GoFundMe page: https://www.gofundme.com/f/cfa-ride-for-the-future-2

Shhhh! The little library that’s had the community reading during lockdown reveal its success

A bookworms dream – the library cove

By Jessica Smith

Two Westcotes book fanatics have turned a new page to create miniature outdoor libraries, bringing reading to our front doors in lockdown with ‘Fosse Road Little Library’ and other literature projects.

Joëlle Bradly, 41, decided to embark on the library project last April, with the help of friend Dave Towers, 56, who said: “We were a month into the first lockdown, and it was all very new, very strange and incredibly quiet everywhere. The mutual aid groups were up and running and we were looking for something that could combat the boredom (particularly for people enduring lockdown in isolation), help with a sense of community and be socially distanced all at the same time.”

Referencing the engagement from the community they’ve received, Dave added: “One person showed their thanks for the library, telling me it ‘kept them alive’ during the lockdown, exploring different authors and genres. They thanked me from the bottom of their heart – that was pretty special!”

Quickly the library took on a life of its own, with a Facebook following of over 400 people, an Instagram of 700 followers and frequent community engagement – they even have a small ‘committee’ of little librarians with a Resident Poet and Arts Director!

LittleSkool, a further project which gives online lessons and workshops from Leicester locals, has around 2K views so far, and following suit in Fosse Road’s success, two more little libraries have been set up in Braunstone, Leicester.

“Getting stuck in a book is a brilliant distraction from lockdown. And the eclectic tastes of Westcotes donators means there is usually something for everyone – it’s run by the community for the community.

“It became a bit of a thing last year when we had multiple copies of Lace 1 and 2 donated. We were known for our erotic fiction section for quite a while!” said bookworm Joëlle, who said big things are coming for this little library.

“We have lots of theme days coming up like World Poetry Day on March 21, and April 26 is the Little Library’s first birthday!” she added.

The library is non-profit, but encourage donations to Woodgate foodbank, and book donations can be taken at the little library on Fosse Road, and its sister branches in Braunstone. Follow the library on Instagram and Facebook to see more of the story so far: @fosse_road_little_library on Instagram, Fosse Rd Little Library on Facebook.

Leicester students ready to help battle the war on litter and keep Britain tidy

By Luke Williamson

De Montfort University students want to get more involved in keeping the campus tidy, after South Leicestershire Litter Wombles appealed for more student members.

Jessica Bogic, DMU Local Widening Participation manager, said: “Hopefully some more students will be able to support that local organisation.

“We have previously worked with the Canal and River Trusts to do similar activities around the River Soar and the campus.

Unsightly: Rubbish on Western Road near the De Montfort University Campus. Picture: Luke Williamson

“If we are approached by organisations for different help in the community, we have a proposal system for new projects and activities.”

South Leicestershire Litter Wombles (SWLL) has been growing rapidly in recent weeks, as the weather improves and Covid-19 lockdown restrictions begin to ease.

It is hoped more students will get involved in keeping the city clean, and some are raring to go.

Shivani Maisuria, DMU Law and Criminal Justice student, said: “It is good for the environment and it is not nice to be walking in the street and seeing rubbish.

“David Attenborough says we should help save the environment from ourselves, and students should start the trend of keeping cities tidy.

“Luckily, the DMU campus is very clean and tidy, so we should all be helping to keep it that way but also help to clean the surrounding areas where many of us live.”

As lockdown restrictions start to ease, SWLL and neighbouring group, the North Leicestershire Litter Wombles, will start going out in groups of six to collect litter.

Last week, SWLL member, Scott Gibbins, asked for more students to get involved to keep the inner-city areas tidy.

He said: “I know they are busy studying but it is a great way to spend a couple of hours a week.

“It is a great way to get some exercise and fresh air whilst helping the environment and wildlife.”

Home time! Students preparing to travel home for Easter brings worries for many

by Abigail Beresford

Universities up and down the UK are breaking up this week for the Easter holidays, with students set to be travelling home for the break.

With students returning home, there are worries that there will be a rise in coronavirus cases and deaths.

The rule of ‘stay at home’ is set to end on Monday(MAR29), allowing students to travel back home using public transport, bringing worries in increasing coronavirus cases.

“With people being able to interact and mix more, the numbers are just going to go up and up, especially when students are coming back from all different parts of the country,” said Sarah Harrison, 38, a mother of a student from Derbyshire.

Over the Easter period, more restrictions are set to be eased, with more interaction to be allowed.

The ‘Rule of Six’ is set to be reintroduced on March 29, which will allow six people or two households to meet outside, including in private gardens.

Non-essential retail and outdoor pubs are also set to reopen on April 12.

However, social distancing guidelines will still remain in place, and people are still expected to abide by them.

“They’re probably going to want to see friends and family that they’ve missed whilst being at university, but this will end up being part of the problem,” added Ms Harrison.

“With restrictions being eased and students coming back, what if all of that hard work was for nothing?”

Students have been encouraged to book a coronavirus test, before travelling back home to prevent the spread of the virus.

To get more information on booking a coronavirus test, visit https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-getting-tested.

Home time! Students prepare to travel back home for Easter.

Demon Media celebrates 25th anniversary

By Thomas Carter

The Demon Media group at DMU will be celebrating the society’s 25th anniversary throughout the month of April.

Members of the group [or ‘Demons’ as they’re known in the DMU community] have a whole host of celebratory plans and events to mark the upcoming occasion that students across the university can get involved with.

Radio station Demon FM are launching a revamped schedule, including anniversary-themed shows. Magazine, The Demon, is publishing a bumper special edition, featuring articles written by current students as well as DMU alumni.

Lawrence Robertson, chair of Demon Media, said: “This is a key milestone for the group and gives us the opportunity to celebrate our history, forging new and strengthened connections with our alumni as we continue to develop our membership experience for future Demons.

“Due to the pandemic, our 25th year has also been one of our most challenging. Despite this, the team have worked incredibly hard to continue to provide the best possible experience for our members.

“This has undoubtedly been a challenge, but it has been fantastic to see how everyone has risen to that and gotten involved regardless.”

Demon Media is looking forward to exciting 25th anniversary celebrations (Credit: Demon Media)

In addition to the strand-specific events, the group is also looking to host the annual ‘Demon Media Awards’ night at the end of term, with members coming together to celebrate individual achievements across the society and look back on memorable moments from the last year.

“The passion and commitment I see every day honestly amazes me and makes me so proud to be part of what has to be one of the best student groups at DMU,” added Lawrence.

Established in 1996, Demon Media has been home to thousands of student members over the years, and is one of the oldest societies remaining active at DMU today.


For more information on the Demon Media anniversary celebrations and to find out how to get involved with the group, visit: https://www.demon-media.co.uk/