Staff Festival’s fantastic fundraising figure

Two incredible charities helping those in need break the cycle of poverty will receive a fantastic financial fillip from this year’s Staff Festival fundraising.

Staff Festival 2023 | Charity nominations open. January 2023

Thousands of colleagues, their friends and family flocked to the University on 30 June to enjoy a packed programme of hugely entertaining activities and attractions.

But there was also a serious aspect to the Festival alongside all the fun.

Reflecting one of the three over-arching elements of our University strategy – community – and our core values of compassion and inclusivity, we invited colleagues to nominate their favourite charity to benefit from the event proceeds. Homeless Street Angels and Zarach won the vote and will now receive a minimum of £1,000 each from the proceeds of this year’s Staff Festival – vital support that comes as a timely boost to both good causes.

Mirroring a story played out in cities across the UK, poverty levels have soared in Leeds as the cost of living crisis impacts families already struggling to make ends meet. Many are forced to make the cruel choice between food or fuel, while in extreme cases, the spiral of decline has even robbed people of the roof over their head.

Our chosen charities are two of the organisations trying to reverse this tragic trend. Homeless Street Angels provides hot meals, clothing and other essentials for people living rough in the city, while Zarach delivers beds and other basics to children in poverty. Without government funding, however, both charities rely almost exclusively on donations to continue their life-changing work.

Staff Festival Project Manager, Jo Westerman, said: “I can’t think of two more deserving causes to benefit from this year’s Staff Festival proceeds, so a big thank you to everyone who took the time to nominate a charity and vote for their favourite, as well as to all those who kindly donated on the day.

“It’s heart-breaking to learn so many people in Leeds are living in such desperate circumstances. The cost of living crisis has only served to exacerbate these issues, so I’m delighted we have the opportunity to support the incredible work these two charities undertake to bring comfort and hope to those in real need.”

Vital services

Volunteers with Homeless Street Angels – a multi award-winning charity established in 2016 – provide vital outreach services on the streets of Leeds every Thursday night, handing out more than 100 hot meals, warm clothes, toiletries, sleeping bags, tents and more. Support is offered with rehousing, often helping decorate and furnish new properties as well. Once rehoused, the charity continues to provide ongoing support to clients through food parcels and any additional help they might require.

Shelley Joyce, Homeless Street Angels Co-founder and Director, said: “We’re only a small charity desperately trying to do huge things. We aren’t government funded, so every penny that’s raised means so much to us and our clients.

“Currently, we have more than 445 families on our foodbank register who are struggling with the cost of living crisis, and we feed more than 100 people on the streets of Leeds every Thursday night. We also take out warm clothes, toiletries and sleeping bags. We’re almost out of toiletries and we have only three weeks’ worth of sleeping bags left, so this money will be used to top up our supplies.”

Breaking the cycle of poverty

Zarach aims to bring lasting and positive change to those children growing up in the grips of poverty through bed bundle deliveries, tailored support packages, raising awareness, advocating policy change and by galvanising people and resources across the UK. Nearly 3,000 bed bundles have been delivered across the city so far, with 25 new referrals received every week.

Amy Green, Funding and Communications Manager at Zarach, said: “We’re thrilled to have the University supporting our mission to end child bed poverty in England. 

“Your donation of £1,000 will enable us to provide six children with a brand new bed and bed bundle of their own, giving them the opportunity to engage at school and a chance to break the cycle of poverty. A huge thanks to everyone who has been involved and those who made a donation for our cause.”

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