Susan Grace, assistant headteacher at Newman Catholic College Harlesden, has won an award for leading the team that created the foodbank at the school. She received the Diocese of Westminster Secondary School Social Outreach Award at a virtual celebration last Wednesday evening (2nd June).
Newman Catholic College has a strong ethos of serving the Common Good, so when it became clear, during the pandemic how many families were having difficulties buying enough food – because they had got into debt waiting for their first payment of Universal Credit, because they were asylum seekers with no recourse to public funds, or for a range of other reasons – they decided to put their faith into action.
Susan 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, this has grown and is now housed in a port-a-cabin, from where the team serves 15-20 families each week.
Thanks to the dedicated work of Susan and the team, when they heard of a Syrian refugee family living in a single hotel room in Wembley, with no money and no recourse to public funds, they were able to give them bags of food that did not need to be cooked or refrigerated.
Susan and her team have given up time in their holidays to ensure the foodbank could keep running, and by involving students from the older years of the school they have given these young men and women confidence in social skills and experience in dealing with clients.
The headteacher at Newman Catholic College, 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.”
On receiving the award, 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.”