How we support our community

Today we want to celebrate the kind-hearted students and staff that make our time at New College Durham both brilliant and memorable. Some may join us for just one year, while others stay with us for much longer, and we cherish your generosity and kindness alike.

Throughout each academic year, each course area hosts numerous innovative fundraisers and craft and bake sales to raise donations for their chosen organisation(s). Last November, over 100 of our public services students braved the cold and took part in a Sleep Out at the Stadium of Light to raise an outstanding £2,500 to support Centrepoint.

As Christmas approaches, all of our students prepare to get in the festive spirit - our construction crafts students have the mammoth task of building a bigger sleigh for our Christmas toy appeal this year. Nigel Fisher, Curriculum Manager for Construction Crafts, has organised a collection for the past five years. Thanks to the generosity of staff and students, New College Durham proudly donated 535 Christmas presents to Metro Radio’s Mission Christmas appeal last year.

Each year, our podiatry students prepare to help the homeless with the Newcastle team at Crisis – unfortunately this year they are unable to be physically part of the event on Christmas Day and Boxing Day but they will be helping to source gifts for the guests, such as new socks and foot creams. Our social work degree students also get in the giving spirit throughout December and support County Durham Food Bank with a reverse advent calendar - each day each student brings an item to donate. Collectively, the students donated enough food to provide 149 meals last year.

Early last year, we met with John and Sue from The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association to organise our first Meet Guide Dogs event. We wanted to provide our students and staff with the opportunity to take a break, reduce stress and spend some quality time with an amazing guide dog. Since the event in May, we have continued to support the charity with smaller busking events, bake sales and charity boxes positioned around the college. We hope to organise another event to add to our donation and name a puppy.

Colin Galley, Lecturer at New College Durham, was nominated for WorldSkills Unsung Hero for his commitment to co-ordinating WorldSkills competitions and skills events for SEND students at the College. Colin helped to establish a regional network of ten colleges and sixth forms and has created a calendar of events that will take place across the North East.

Each year, our Preparing for Independence students benefit from gaining work experience in our onsite café, Café 50. Throughout the academic year, the students work hard to raise donations for a range of charities, such as Macmillan Cancer Support, Children in Need, the British Legion, Comic Relief, Guide Dogs for the Blind, as well as food banks and Christmas toy appeals. Each seasonal craft fair and charity event contributes to their incredible total yearly average of £2,000 in donations to deserving charities.

During the lockdown this summer, ESOL students, Amna Al Ali and Sabbir Ahmed, warmed our hearts. Amna came to the UK as a refugee from the war in Syria. Amna made traditional Syrian sweets for the elderly residents of a care home in Chester le Street every Saturday. Sabbir, originally from Bangladesh, helped to prepare food at Zeera Tandoori for all of the hard-working NHS staff at Durham Hospital. Professional Chef and Catering Lecturer, Lynn Mitchinson, also boosted the morale of local elderly residents by cooking up tasty treats and delivering them to their doorsteps.

Supported Employment student, Megan Hewitson, wanted to use her time in lockdown productively so she joined a local group of volunteers to help to brighten up Langley Park Community Garden with her mum.

This is just a small selection of the amazing work done by staff and students in the college to support our community. As an educational provider and FE college we see ourselves as a key member of and contributor to the local community. Seeing the amazing work and contributions our staff and students make to the local community it highlights that this feeling and sense of community runs throughout the culture of the entire college. We’re proud to support our local community and Love Colleges Week has given us a real chance to reflect on this.