Leicester charity donates electronic devices to support children in at-home-learning

By Grace Cushnie.

A local charity has helped provide £6,500 worth of electronic tablets to Leicester school children.

The Leicestershire and Rutland Community Foundation (LRCF) partnered with the School Development Support Agency (SDSA) to provide the electronic devices to children unable to access online learning.

The LRFC is one of forty-six community foundations, that together make up the UK community foundation. They work as ‘middlemen’ between people who wish to do good and those that need the help. The charity handles the financial and legal responsibilities, both for the people they help and their donors, making each process easier.

Sian Jones, communications lead for LRCF, explained that the money received for the smart tablets “came from a mixture of fundraising and grants.

“SDSA works very closely with lots of schools in the local area to find out where there are pockets of need, and find families who are struggling to access online learning because they might not have devices, or enough devices for the number of children.

“They have given out eighty tablets last week, with another 80 being distributed this week.

“It’s also a sustainable project – the devices belong to the school, so once remote learning has finished and the child no longer needs the device, the school will benefit long term because they will have use of the devices still.

“This is most definitely making a difference. You don’t have to spend much time listening to the news to find that one of the real inequities of the lockdown is that those who need support most aren’t getting it, because they didn’t have access to the equipment they need or even WIFI. Anything that can be done to equalize the playing field so that vulnerable children aren’t impacted even more is fantastic.”

Lisa Saunders, an NHFT nurse who works with several schools, agreed that “doing anything to help the inequality our children are facing, which this pandemic has highlighted, needs to be a treated as a priority.

“Donations like the LRFC’s are essential to begin the fight for equality for working-class families.”

The fundraiser event of the summer – Leicester’s One Big Weekend

By Jessica Smith

Leicester’s One Big Weekend, a fundraiser for the Sue Young Cancer Support charity, promises popular headline acts, family fun and delicious treats this summer in Market Harborough.

The event is set to take place from August 14-15, in Leicestershire Show Ground; with adult weekend tickets starting at £35, and all proceeds going to charity.

Event organiser Stacey Coleman, 35, said: “We’ve got Sam Bailey, the ambassador for our centre, Jake Quickenden, who tragically lost his brother and father to cancer, Roman Kemp, and Scouting for Girls and so many more local acts.

“The proceeds are going to a range of charities, Sue Young, LOROS, Macmillan, because we want to bring awareness to all these great causes, of all the services out there that are united in their cause, to support those vulnerable or in need.”

The event celebrates the 40th birthday of Sue Young, with proceeds helping fund the charity in her namesake, which provides emotional and practical support to those affected by cancer in Leicestershire and Rutland.

With services for cancer patients being extremely limited due to COVID-19, Stacey said: “We’re not a massive charity; we’re just trying to give the best possible care with services like person complimentary therapy.

“Because of the pandemic we have had to take on children, and we’re hoping this event helps bring awareness to the services we provide and help provide funding for the services to continue.”

Tara Simms, a local guitarist/vocalist set to perform on the weekend said: “I was absolutely thrilled to be asked to join the line-up – the other artists on the bill are incredible so I’m looking forward to seeing them too.”

Tara will be performing a range of acoustic covers and she added: “I like to go with the feeling of the crowd, I don’t plan sets. I’ll be sure to include some big sing-along numbers, I love audience participation.”

The venue has already reduced tickets from it’s 23,000 capacity to 12,000 over the whole weekend in line with government guidance, but has passed COVID risk assessments, and looks set to offer fun for the whole family this August, with fairground rides from Billy Bates and Sons Funfair, local talent with Tara Simms and Tin Pigeons, and tribute acts Take@That and Little Fix.

Tickets for camping, VIP Golden Circle, and Day/Weekend Tickets are available at leicestersonebigweekend.com, and the latest Tara Simms cover of Creep by Radiohead is available here https://music.apple.com/gb/album/creep-feat-vikki-holland-bowyer-single/1553434908

Leicester united through song: the lockdown choir bringing hope in times of darkness

By Jessica Smith

A Market Harborough opera singer has created an innovative lockdown choir, digitally mixing recordings from 95 members across Leicester for a performance of Michael Jackson’s ‘Heal the World.’

Olivia Slatter, 22, the choir leader, stated: “I decided to create the choir, as singing has helped me so much through tough times, and I feel that it is important to try and get people young and old to communicate with something that they have in common.”

Prior to lockdown, Olivia undertook an internship, on top of studying at Trinity Laban, a London-based school of music and dance, but with the challenges COVID introduced, her difficulties living with dyslexia and autism were exacerbated, stating: “Lockdown affected my daily routine, as routine is vital for my ASD; I lost a lot of motivation and drive, my anxiety was very heightened, with constant changes and not knowing the future, it was incredibly stressful.

“The choir has been an amazing experience and I’m so pleased I could make a small difference; it’s been a great learning experience for me and ‘Brick Work Studios’, who have helped combine the individual recordings for the track.

“This choir is a non-bullying, no judgement choir, to relieve stress, even if you sing into the shower or sing whilst cleaning up, please join – because this choir is for you!”

Funded by the National Lottery and free to join, the young singer emphasised the choir’s success, as she stated: “The project has done incredibly well, we have certainly hit our targets! With restrictions lifting, and a slow return to normality, we’re keeping an eye out for future performances together, and we’re considering an ‘Olivia’s recovery choir; singing has been a resource helping mental health, and especially with the pandemic and rising suicide figures, this choir is something I felt a responsibility to do for the community.”

An interactive Facebook poll unanimously chose the hit ‘Heal the world’ to perform, a song of positivity and hope at a time when it was much needed. With almost 100 members already, this chorus collaboration looks no signs of slowing down.

To join the choir crew, and for more information, follow the link: https://bit.ly/36idcIK?fbclid=IwAR3hzMl9JwEg-czzz4ZtNpK7tevzxbQPJfKvZjt49ICIvpOIgZp95Z2iSYM

Dog groomer painting puppy portraits during lockdown in Braunstone

By Jessica Smith

A Leicestershire dog groomer has combined passion with art this lockdown, creating personalised key rings to sell alongside her business.

Sarah Streeter, 26, owns Boutique Blues, a successful dog groomer in Braunstone, Leicester, and has began combining a passion for painting with her love of being a groomer, creating personalised dog portraits on keyrings as a side income to her grooming company.

“Personalised paintings are a hobby I hope I can make work, but dog grooming is my passion,” said Essex-born Stacey, who made the move to Leicester two years ago.

“I’ve had a very busy lockdown, recently having a baby, a new puppy, my partner having a serious operation and starting two businesses. But all those things won’t stop you if you’re positive.”

Whilst lockdown delayed the opening of Stacey’s salon much longer than she had planned, so far she has only a tale of success to tell.

She told how: “I love painting and thought the key rings are something safe I can do and still keep making money, as I have a newborn and disabled husband to support.

“A lot of money had to go into making the salon safe for my family and clients. But one thing I’ve learnt is Covid should be everyone’s wakeup call – home is where you should be.”

Boutique Blues is open seven days a week, and appointments can be made via email, or phone, accessible on the Facebook page.

Video: Vegan market comes to Leicester

By Olivia Messum

Leicester opened its doors to an outdoor vegan market on Sunday (May 9) to give Leicestershire locals the chance to enjoy vegan foods from all over the country.

This event was held in Knighton and it was hosted by Vegan Events UK in order to give plant-based companies the opportunity to get recognised nationwide.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Vegan Events UK were not able to host their annual vegan festival in London.

Instead, they have been setting up food stalls in various cities across the country so that the usual festival-goers are still able to enjoy the atmosphere of the event.

Holly Swift, a DMU student and Leicestershire resident, attended the market and said: “Because I’m not vegan, it was a new experience.

“I never would have tried any of the foods I had if I didn’t go there, so it was really nice to try all new foods. And they were all really nice as well.”

Holly also discussed the effect that this event will have on her future eating habits. She said: “I don’t think I could ever be fully vegan but the food was really nice so I would definitely be more inclined to choose the vegan option on the menu.”

With an admission fee of £4.48 per person, anyone can attend this event in the future. To learn more about Vegan Events UK and their upcoming markets, visit https://www.veganeventsuk.co.uk/events/ or contact their Facebook page: @VeganEventsUK.