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Our support for local communities is growing

Our team has been very active, rising to the call of the University’s “Make a Difference” initiative and volunteering to support causes that are related to Edinburgh and its communities. Following from last year’s beach clean at Burntisland, Fife, we have organised a day to clean the Union Canal, and put out a call to support the Edinburgh Food Project, a local foodbank.

12 Days of Giving: our reverse foodbank advent

Food poverty is, sadly, a issue more prominent than most of us might expect. One in six (17%) people across Scotland say that they or their household have experienced food insecurity over a 12-month period, equating to an estimated 1.2 million people, while one in fourteen (7%) people in Scotland report that they or their household have used at least one type of food aid in the last year, equating to an estimated 530,000 people being supported by food aid.
As we got closer to the festive winter break, and to support those families in need, our team organised a foodbank collection. We encouraged colleagues from Learning, Teaching and Web Services’ directorate, and more widely in the Information Services Group, to donate much needed food items, filling three “chimney” donation points. Donors could also vote as to which foodbank the items would be distributed through, between the Edinburgh Food Project, Salvation Army, or Fresh Start Pantry, at the point of donation.
Three chimney-like boxes full of food donations, in front of a wall having 3 posters with one a Christmas tree each.

The donation point at Argyle House, H East wing.

The Edinburgh Food Project received the most votes, and approx. 45.5kg of items were delivered directly to their warehouse in west Edinburgh on Friday 15th of December 2023.
Two men hugging and smiling in front of an Edinburgh Food Project van, alongside a stack of donation crates from the Website & Communications team.

The donations were delivered to the Edinburgh Food Project on Friday, 15th of December 2023.

Cleaning the Union Canal

Earlier in the year, a team of 12 hardy team members kicked off our volunteering activities, heading out to clean up the Union Canal, in partnership with the Fountainbridge Canalside Community Trust. The Union Canal at Fountainbridge is a special place. Redeveloping the land here provides chance to retain valuable wildlife corridors into the city while highlighting the rich cultural history in an attractive area for recreation and leisure. Keeping it clear of rubbish is important for both wildlife and local residents alike.

Representatives from the Trust were impressed with the team’s resilience, saying that the weather was the worst they’d ever had for a litter pick. Undaunted by the downpour, the team split up into two groups and spent the day picking litter from the tow path, as well as the area around Harrison Park. The litter picking kit bought for this event is now available to be used again in the future by any team that wants to run a similar volunteering activity.

Photo of volunteers showing the results of their work in form of rubbish bags

Website & Communication team members who volunteered for the Union Canal litter picking.

Our efforts will continue in 2024

We are very proud to put our time and effort to support these, and other similar, causes making use of the University’s allowance for volunteering. The Day to Make a Difference initiative entitles every staff member to an additional day of paid leave to volunteer for a charity, organisation or other good cause. Anyonw wishing to make use of their day, they just need to request it, just like annual leave, on the People and Money system. We will definitely be planning more similar activities in 2024.

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