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.

Church in Leicester helps those in need this Christmas

By Vivek Julka

Christmas is normally a happy time for many people but for some it is not.

Unfortunately, some are sleeping rough in the harsh cold weather and do not have enough food to eat.

To try and combat this, Bishop Street Methodist Church in Leicester has teamed up with a local charity to help those in need this Christmas.

Holly, who works at the church, said: “We are partnering up with Zinthiya Trust charity to make food parcels to give to people who are in need this Christmas.

“They are a great charity and help with all sorts of problems such as domestic violence abuse, people who are in debt and now they are helping us make these food parcels for these unfortunate people.”

While also doing this, the Methodist church members are preparing for their Christmas events which will take place in the church.

They have a carol service as hymn singing is a big feature in Methodist churches, which is coming up tomorrow(SUN,DEC18) with anyone welcome. 

Also, on Christmas Day, they are hosting a morning service when again, anyone is welcome.

Try and come along as this community is very friendly.

If you want more information on the charity visit

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.

Leicester charity wraps Christmas presents to raise money

By Alice Wright

Volunteers for Leicester Children’s Holidays are offering to wrap people’s Christmas presents to raise money for disadvantaged children to go on holiday.

Wrapped up: Volunteers (left and right) and Nominations Coordinator Michelle Cullen (middle)

The charity is one of the oldest in Leicester and provide free respite breaks for children aged eight to 11 who face difficult circumstances at home. It has provided more than 60,000 free holidays to children in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland.

Its volunteers are wrapping people’s Christmas presents in the Highcross shopping centre in exchange for a small donation but are also selling stocking fillers and toys to help raise money for their charity.

Nominations co-ordinator Michelle Cullen said: “The money goes directly to helping children, so it will go to fund either the holidays we take them on, or it will go to fund social care or clubs.

“Say we have a child that has an opportunity to go away, either on a day trip or residential or an activity or therapy, but they can’t afford to do it, so we offer to help fund that child to do that as well.”

To find out more information visit the charity’s website or its visitor centre located in Highcross shopping centre next to the Post Office.

Leicestershire charity reaches £1.5 million donation milestone on landmark anniversary

By Thomas Carter

Leicestershire-based charity Alex’s Wish has received a remarkable total of £1.5 million in donations since its inception, with the achievement coming on the organisation’s tenth anniversary.

Set up in 2012 by parents Emma and Andy Hallam following their son Alex’s diagnosis of Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), the charity has helped to fund several ground-breaking research initiatives, all with the aim of finding a cure to the condition.

DMD is an aggressive muscle wasting condition that affects 1 in every 3,500 boys born, weakening the heart and lungs as a result, and the charity has worked to provide support for those in need.

Looking back to the charity’s beginnings, Emma said: “When we got the news that our little boy had been diagnosed with DMD it was devastating, and to make things more difficult there were not a lot of treatments available besides steroids.

“After trying to find out more about the condition, my husband and I started raising money for a couple of charities, and it was at this point we looked into starting our own.

“I knew I’d absolutely love to do it, so we spoke with our friends and family about how we wanted to raise awareness of the condition and create a platform to help those in the community.

“From there Alex’s Wish was born – our son’s wish to find a cure for Duchenne.”

The Alex’s Wish Board of Trustees at their annual Supporters’ Lunch last year (Credit: Alex’s Wish)

Chris Everard, vice-chair of the Trustees Board, was delighted with the charity’s success. He said: “The £1.5 million mark doesn’t really feel real. Having worked with Emma and Andy for nearly five years, it seems such an incredible and awfully large amount of money. 

“Hundreds upon hundreds of events, promotions, sponsorships and charitable giving by people and organisations have led to this treatment and everyone of them has made a difference.

“The progress of the charity brings a sense of momentum and achievement, plus being able to give back something in such a positive way is always a delight.”

With their fundraising events varying from marathon cycle rides to supercar events, it is the sense of community, Chris insisted, that is key to the charity’s success.

Mr Everard continued: “What makes Alex’s Wish different is quite simple – the people. 

“It is the passion of Emma, the cold hard determination of Andy, the willingness, innovative nature of the trustees board. 

“It is the tireless work that (fundraising managers) Zoe and Heidi put in every day. It is the joy that people feel when they come in contact with the charity and are able to help in some way.”

Zoe Edwards, fundraising and events manager for the charity, added: “When I look back and think about what we have achieved and where we have come over that time, it is unbelievable.

“The events, campaigns, awareness and support have grown substantially, enabling us to grow our fundraising and make a bigger impact.

“The change in the scientific landscape over that time has also been incredible, with the development of gene therapy and technological advancements to make living with Duchenne easier. It is a huge privilege to be part of.”

To find out more about Alex’s Wish and get involved with the charity go to: