Food banks in Leicester offer relief as harsh winter bites

By Zarina Ahmed

With temperatures continuing to drop, homeless shelters have experienced a rise in visitors to the point of almost being overwhelmed with not enough resources in Leicester.

Volunteers providing hot drinks and food to those who need it

The Centre Project, located in the city centre, offers free refreshments and food to those who need it, its food bank opening for three hours every Monday.

Danielle, an organiser of the food bank and other programmes it runs, said: “Yeah, so the weather has been getting colder and more people have visited, so we’ve definitely seen a rise of people coming.

“It can feel colder and lonelier, so even if we can offer a warm drink or somewhere to stay, then that’s something.”

Since the cost-of-living crisis started to hit, made worse by the arrival of colder weather, there has been a 30 per cent rise in people visiting the food bank, creating a higher demand for food packages to be given to everyone.

“I’ve come here for a while now, hang out when I can and stuff,” said Holly, one of the many people who attend the food bank service. “It’s there when I needed it, and can be good fun when I get talking to the volunteers.”

As well as offering food bank services, the Central Project also caters to the social needs of people in Leicester – such as a social room and a café.

The spaces provide warmth and safety whilst many homes in Leicester are struggling with fuel poverty and social isolation, both of which affect more people during the winter.

Isolation and poverty impact the homeless during colder weather (Photo: by pxhere)

Danielle said: “So many different people come to visit and it’s just an environment for them to come to.”

The food bank runs in the morning from 10.30 until 1pm, with various other events offering similar services throughout the week.

Christmas spirit remains in Leicester during cost-of-living crisis

By Zarina Ahmed

Throughout the cost-of-living crisis, Leicester’s Christmas events in the middle of the city centre have stayed affordable for the public.

Fair rides, stalls and several lights are part of the fair

Brandon Isset, who led the organisation of the fair event, said: “I think Christmas is a special time and it’s my favourite, too, so I think keeping the price the same is necessary – especially during what’s happening now.”

The price for the tickets to participate had been £1, which was an easily affordable price for people to pay.

However, with the increasing costs it took to organise the event, which included several heavy loading vehicles, there was conversation about also increasing the price to make up for losses in the budget.

“We didn’t want to change the price and make it so some people couldn’t join in when it’s such a big deal here,” Mr Isset said.

Conducting the event included several days of heavy loading the rides and stalls, both exponentially requiring more funding with increased costs.

Costs also started to rise with not only the delivering of the rides and stalls but also the costs to operate them.

People line up for the food stalls

Mr Isset said: “I wanted to give back, really, by keeping the price the same. What good would it have done to change the price?

“For me, my favourite part of being involved with all of this is to see people’s enjoyment, going on the rides and stuff – and if that means not upping the price, then it’s alright, really.”

The Christmas event is made up of a variety of rides and snack stalls on Humberstone Gate until January 3rd.

Domestic violence charity offers support through art in Leicester

By Zarina Ahmed

An exhibition to showcase the domestic violence victims have experienced as well as the impact on children is taking place in Leicester.

Charities such as the Zinthaya Trust and Panahghar, both of which focus on helping domestic violence victims, have joined efforts to show Leicester the available support systems in place.

An emotion tree depicting children’s wellbeing as victims of violence

The art included was created by various artists such as victims of violence, children impacted by it, as well as voluntarily by De Montfort University students.

“Anyone accessing help with one of the charities is a massive thing itself,” Ash, a representative from Panahghar said.

As well as adult victims’ artwork being displayed, children’s art is also included, showcasing the impact left behind.

“It’s not an easy thing for an adult, so imagine what a child would have to experience,” Ash said.

Experiencing a shared history with domestic violence herself, Ash participated in being involved with the charity, wanting to spread awareness on helpful and accessible support.

She said: “For me, Leicester was a little naff, yeah, so of course I want to be part of a charity and help people properly.

“This isn’t a nine-to-five-job – we’re always constantly worried about the clients, even afterwards.”

Victims reflect their abuse through face artwork with labels of emotions

The charities involved, as well as Panahghar, provide client-based experiences, based on what victims and clients feel comfortable with at any time.

Under 20 per cent of victims of domestic violence go reported to official care systems or police, the charity’s figures show.

Charities such as Panahghar allow victims to have a safe space to vent to if they’re under threat or feel uncomfortable with the prospect of reporting their perpetrator.

The project to compile the exhibition was made with no official funding and instead organized with contributions from Leicester-based charities as well as the Leicester City Council.