Supporting the local community during the coronavirus outbreak – Our people

by Alana Walden, 15 April 2020
Shahida Rahman

In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, colleagues at Cambridge Assessment have been taking part in a variety of initiatives to support their local communities. 

One example is Shahida Rahman from our UK exam board, OCR, and her brother, Kal, who launched an online donation page to raise money for Cambridge City Foodbank. 

The page was set up with an initial target of £2,000 to help those struggling in the local community as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. The amount raised now stands at an incredible £15,656 including Gift Aid, and this figure continues to grow as more donations come in every day. 

We spoke with Shahida about this amazing initiative and how it will provide much needed support for the community at this time. 

What led you to set up the donation page for the Foodbank?

My brother Kal and I regularly take part in community outreach with the Cambridge Central Mosque, but as the mosque is temporarily closed, we started thinking of ways in which we can still support our local community. I was born and raised in Cambridge and my family have lived here for over 60 years, so supporting the local community is really important to us, and always has been.  

We know that people across Cambridgeshire need support in these difficult times, so we looked at charities in the local area. The Foodbank struck us as being particularly badly hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, as panic buying in supermarkets meant donations and stocks were reducing.  

There are a lot of people that can’t bulk buy and therefore rely on foodbanks. These people will keep relying on foodbanks - even more so under current circumstances. There are also many self-isolating who need help paying their bills and feeding their families, so Kal and I decided raising money for the Foodbank would be a vital step in supporting people in Cambridge.  

How did you manage to spread the word and bring in so many donations?

We started sharing the page on social media, including on Cambridge Assessment’s internal social platform for staff. Other people started picking up on it very quickly, and before we knew it there were hundreds of shares across platforms like Facebook.  

News of the donation page then went wider than social media and Cambridge Assessment – we were interviewed for BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, Cambridge News and Cambridge Independent. It’s really amazing how people are helping to spread the word and we are thrilled to see how far the page has gone.  

How has the response been from the local community and the foodbank?

It’s been incredible. We can’t believe the number of donations we’ve had. When we first looked at targets Kal suggested setting a target of £5,000 and I thought that was setting the bar too high, so we set it at £2,000. Since then we’ve had to keep raising the target as more donations keep flooding in! The Cambridge City Foodbank is overjoyed with the number of donations and thankful to every single person who has donated.  

What I’m really impressed with is how the response to the Covid-19 pandemic has brought communities together. Changes to how we are living right now affect all of us – we’re all in the same boat. It’s been wonderfully positive to see communities supporting each other in these difficult times, with any barriers or divisions completely cut away. I’m proud to be part of the community response and delighted that so many people have kindly donated to a great cause. Thank you everyone. 

If you would like to donate to the Cambridge City Foodbank, please visit the online fundraising page.

We are inspired by stories like this from our employees who have been taking part in initiatives to help their local communities during these unprecedented times. Read more blogs about Our people

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