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Susan Grace, Assistant Headteacher at Newman Catholic College in Harlesden, has won a Diocese of Westminster Social Action Award for leading the team that created the foodbank at the school. At a virtual awards ceremony hosted by Caritas Volunteer Service on 2nd June, Susan was congratulated as the winner of the Secondary School Social Outreach Award. Thirty individuals and groups were nominated across five award categories. As well as recognising the five winners, the ceremony was a celebration of all the nominees and all volunteers in the diocese.

Newman Catholic College has a strong ethos of serving the Common Good. When it became clear, during the pandemic, how many families were having difficulties buying enough food, the school community decided to put their faith into action. Some of the families who needed help had got into debt waiting for their first payment of Universal Credit, while others were asylum seekers with no recourse to public funds.

In response to this need, Susan assembled a team of teachers, support staff and students, and set up a foodbank. With the support of Caritas Westminster and the construction company Wates, the foodbank has grown and is now housed in a portacabin, from where the team serves 15 to 20 families each week.

Thanks to the dedicated work of Susan and the team, when the school found out about a Syrian refugee family living in a single hotel room in Wembley, with no money and no recourse to public funds, the foodbank was able to give them bags of food that did not need to be cooked or refrigerated. 

Susan and her team have given up time in their holidays to ensure the foodbank can keep running. By involving students from the older years of the school, they have given these young men and women confidence in social skills and experience of dealing with clients.

Danny Coyle, Headteacher at Newman Catholic College, said:

'The team responded to need, because every person in our school community has a right to a positive life and to the material and spiritual support required to live a truly human existence. They have supported our Harlesden community come rain or shine since the start of the first lockdown. It gives testimony to the school's commitment to the Common Good and our collective determination to support as many people as possible.'

On receiving the award, Susan Grace said:

'This award is for our team who have been amazing in their commitment to running the foodbank, together we have gone from strength to strength.'

Susan Grace, Assistant Headteacher at Newman Catholic College in Harlesden.