Volunteers from London City Airport participate in ‘12 Days of Giving’ and prepare for Christmas dinner for homeless in Newham.

Thirty-five staff contributed 280 hours for local initiatives this month, with a final event this Saturday for local homeless at the Memorial Community Church in Newham. London City Airport staff volunteered a total of 280 hours to community organisations in Newham, Tower Hamlets and Redbridge this December, as part of a festive airport initiative called ’12 Days of Giving’.

A cumulative total of 35 staff volunteered at Tower Hamlets’ Core Landscapes and Stepney City Farm, Redbridge Foodbank and Ascensions Church in Newham. This Saturday 22nd December, the airport will also support a day of festivities for homeless or vulnerable housed people in East London. In partnership with Bridges and Community Food Enterprise (CFE), the airport has organised a day of Christmas celebration at Memorial Community Church in Newham. Rough sleeping is a priority for the UK Government and the Mayor of Newham, who has pledged to tackle homelessness with compassion and care. As a responsible business in Newham, London City Airport has worked with Bridges to support this year’s event.

A total of 130 homeless and vulnerably housed people are expected to attend a festive breakfast, a carol service and a traditional Christmas dinner. All attendees will receive presents and a food parcel before they leave the event. ‘12 Days of Giving’ is an annual initiative organised by the airport in the run up to Christmas, giving staff the opportunity to take time out of the diary to volunteer. Combined with other volunteering opportunities throughout the year, it brings the total number of annual volunteer hours in 2018 to 1750hrs.

Aaron Uthman, Community Relations Ambassador of London City Airport, said:

“The airport is truly part of our local communities, with many staff living locally and passionate about contributing to good causes nearby. It’s therefore especially rewarding during the festive season to give back and support the important work all these amazing organisations are doing. “Having organised the 12 Days of Giving initiative, I have seen first-hand the variety of worthwhile projects – including one which supports residents’ mental health in Tower Hamlets, food collections for Redbridge, and the Ascension Church in Newham, where elderly attendees were treated to carol singing and Christmas lunch, served by airport volunteers.”

12 Days of Giving is part of a myriad of volunteering and fundraising activities which the airport organises. At the beginning of 2019 the airport will also launch a new £75,000 Community Fund to support local charities and organisations in communities near to London City Airport. The event this Saturday is the 12th year that Bridges has organised its annual Christmas celebration, which is part of the services it offers to help homeless and vulnerably housed people in Newham and in East London. Bridges supports rough sleepers by providing food services and conversations to improve their physical and emotional wellbeing. The details of the volunteering and organisations involved during 12 Days of Giving were:

Core Landscapes

On 4th December volunteers revisited the Core Landscapes project in Tower Hamlets, which is a ‘meanwhile’ site which has been transformed into a hub for community engagement through horticulture workshops and events improving mental wellbeing and community cohesion of the local residents visiting. Airport employees were tasked with preparing the site for new plants and trees by potting and replanting trees on the new site.

Redbridge Foodbank

On the 7th December volunteers went to Redbridge Foodbank, which is part of a national network of foodbanks, giving out emergency food to people in crisis. Volunteers supported the foodbank by collecting food donations from various collection points around Ilford, purchasing additional products and sorting the items and creating parcels for the users of the food bank.

With food poverty affecting many families especially in East London, food banks are a key resource in collecting and distribution emergency food and act as a lifeline for those in need.

Ascensions Church

On the 11th December volunteers supported the Ascensions Community Trust with its annual Christmas lunch for over 100 elderly people in Newham. Volunteers helped by setting up and decorating the hall for the lunch, wrapping presents, serving the lunch and singing carols. Ascensions Community Trust provides an important local service to mainly elderly people living in the Royal Docks area.

Stepney City Farm

On the 12th of December volunteers went to Stepney City Farm in Tower Hamlets, a community-based farm which gives children and adults the chance to meet farm animals, learn how to grow food and try out arts and crafts. It also hosts a popular Farmer’s Market every Saturday. The volunteers decorated a 14ft Christmas tree which was donated by the airport and helped out with cleaning and feeding the animals.