Around 300 of UCLan’s international students are receiving donated hot meals after their lockdown plight was uncovered by a local community group.Advertisement
The students, who have been unable to return home during the coronavirus pandemic, are facing poverty, with some unaware they could have been accessing UCLan’s hardship fund during this time.
Local group, Preston’s Promise, was alerted to the issue due to its involvement with students for Ramadan. When students began to report health and wellbeing issues including isolation and depression, the charity raised the issue with Preston City Council, who in turn contacted UCLan with the assistance of the Lancashire Resilience Forum.
As a result, a team from UCLan is now working with the students to ensure they are receiving welfare support, including access to the hardship payments, worth £200 every four weeks.
In addition the students are receiving one hot meal a day thanks to an initiative involving Preston City Council, Preston’s Promise and the Preston Faith Covenant. The initiative began on Saturday (9 May) and will continue for two weeks until the end of Ramadan.
Some of the students have taken to social media to express their gratitude for the meals, which are being donated by benefactors from the Preston Muslim Community, Guru Nanak Gurdwara and Preston Minster.
Thank you for supporting international students during these hard times ??@UCLan @PrestonsPromise pic.twitter.com/Mln4l1ncyx— vineel gutta (@vineelgutta) May 10, 2020
Preston City Council’s cabinet member for communities and social justice councillor Nweeda Khan said: “These students have been in the unknown, and fearful of where to go to get help and support.
“Huge credit must go to Preston’s Promise. The way the volunteers spoke to the students and gathered information was so professional. Once the UCLan team were alerted they came straight to the support of the students.
“The work is being done in line with social distancing measures, and the students really are so grateful. We’ll see how the two weeks go and look at what improvements have been made, and how we can follow up.”
Read more: Preston housing association has given out 2,300 food parcels to those in need
Speaking after Saturday, Andrew R. Pratt, the Bishop of Blackburn’s Interfaith Advisor, said: “The response by UCLan and Preston’s Promise last night was truly amazing. The commitment by everyone to try and help and support the students is inspirational.”
Councillor Khan said the initiative is just one example of how Prestonians have provided support to each other during the pandemic.
“Preston has been a beacon of good practice for inclusivity and ensuring different communities’ needs are being met.
“We’ve seen all community and faith organisations really come together and support the people of Preston, especially the vulnerable and those in need. The support to the international students was another example of this effective relationship.”
Read more: How UCLan students and staff have volunteered during the coronavirus pandemic
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What do you think of the support that’s been given to the international students? Let us know in the comments.