Community Story: Alice Hawkins Community Projects

"There have been increasing numbers of people needing help from the foodbank, especially as food and fuel prices went up from last year onwards. From 30 families a week in 2020, we now regularly feed 130 families a week in 2024."

Today we are in Leicester where our Head of Communications Luke Upton caught up with Lynn Wyeth one of the founders of Alice Hawkins Community Projects to find out more about their fantastic work.

Luke Upton (LU): Thanks for the time today, could you please give our community a little introduction to the work of Fosse Neighbourhood Centre and the community in which you serve.

Lynn Wyeth (LW): Always happy to talk! Alice Hawkins Community Projects ( @AliceHawkinsCP is working with local people to enable change within the community, providing support for those on the poverty line and from less privileged backgrounds so they can focus on improving their lives, accessing opportunities and developing the community they belong to.

As a community interest company (CIC), we run a number of initiatives and projects supported by public donations and funding, run by volunteers and our members. We operate out of the Fosse Neighbourhood Centre in the west of Leicester.

Our first and ongoing project, setup in the pandemic and previously known as ‘Woodgate Community Food is our food bank which offers support for those in need living in the Fosse and Westcotes wards of Leicester city. We provide top up food parcels for over 130 households a week and are always in need of additional funds for this ongoing project.

In 2022 we embarked on an electric blanket campaign to support those most affected with the high prices of fuel by providing an alternative cheaper way of localised heating.

In 2023 after being awarded The National Grid’s Community Green Spaces Fund, we also now run a community garden at the centre and are growing our own food and veg for the foodbank.

LU: Brilliant, thanks. How has your work and the demands you face changed in recent years?

LW: There have been increasing numbers of people needing help from the foodbank, especially as food and fuel prices went up from last year onwards. From 30 families a week in 2020, we now regularly feed 130 families a week in 2024. There are less donations coming on as everyone feels the pinch. The cost of food that we ourselves buy has increased, and the supply chain sometimes makes it difficult to get food we need.

LU: You’ve just received funding from Magic Little Grants. Tell us some more about the project and what it aims to deliver.

LW: The funding we get from Magic Little grants just helps us to carry on doing what we do, providing food to those that need a little help and providing a community hub where volunteers from the community can help their neighbours either with top up food or by getting in projects such as the community garden.

LU: How important is the support you’ve received from Localgiving's Magic Little Grants?

LW: The funding really does make a difference, just a small grant of £500 can help feed 50 families that week. Thank you!

LU: Funding aside, what would most help you in 2024?

LW: We need to see a government that genuinely tackles poverty by addressing the root causes. Overpriced housing, privatised energy companies... it's all contributing to millions of families living in poverty, even those that may be in work. We're about to embark on a small new project to give air fryers to some of our single food bank users to help them save money on their energy bills when they're just cooking for themselves.

LU: And one final question, who was Alice Hawkins?

LW: Alice Hawkins was a suffragette, fighting for women’s right to vote back in the early part of the last century, who had lived in Mantle Road, opposite the Fosse Neighbourhood Centre. There was a ceremony earlier in the year to commemorate her with a blue plaque on the wall of the house she had lived in. Alice was a fighter for people’s rights, a champion of her local community, a role model for girls and women, and we felt she would be a great icon for our developing organisation. Thankfully, her family agreed! There's a statue of her in Leicester and you can read more about her here

LU: Fascinating. Thank you for your important work, we’ll keep our community updated.

 ---> Learn more about the work of Alice Hawkins Community Projects by clicking here.