Edinburgh College students’ project to help the homeless

Students from Edinburgh College Midlothian Campus have marked the completion of their ground-breaking homelessness awareness project this month.

Two people holding care and share bags

The students took part in Leonard Cheshire’s ‘Can Do’ programme, during which they decided to embark on a ‘building communities’ project to raise funds for, and awareness of, the needs of people in the community who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. 

Delivered by the pan-disability charity Leonard Cheshire, Can Do is a skills development and community involvement programme designed for 16-35 year olds with additional support needs.

With both in-person and virtual formats, the participants, or ‘Can Doers’ took part in sessions on fundraising, mental health and wellbeing, designing posters and much more. The project gave the Can Doers an opportunity to make a positive difference in the community, improving their confidence and motivation, while also providing a learning opportunity. The participants gained an SVQ Building Communities award through completion of their project.

In one session, the students learned about homelessness and discussed some essential items you might need for winter as a homeless person. Following this, they were tasked with some online shopping to create ‘care and share’ bags to donate. Each participant was given tasks, such as budgeting, comparing prices and spotting deals, before ordering and receiving the items, and packing the bags. These bags, as well as all proceeds from the campaign, were donated to Bethany Christian Trust, a charitable organisation in Scotland whose mission is to relieve suffering and meet the long-term needs of homeless and vulnerable people in Scotland.

Upon receiving the items, Kevin, a staff member from Bethany Christian Trust, said:

“I am grateful for the bags of love and kindness that have been donated by the students from Edinburgh College Midlothian campus. Bethany Christian Trust is full of gratitude for the commitment shown by the students in putting the bags together and the residents are absolutely going to love the items”.

The students also had an opportunity to learn first-hand about mental health and wellbeing. Mark, who has lived experience of being homeless, explained how he struggled with his mental health and discussed with the Can Doers the support he received to recover from the challenges he faced. The students later sent wonderful messages of encouragement to Mark for his strength and ability to stay positive. 

One of the Can Do participants, James, said “What I liked most about the project was getting an opportunity to help and make someone smile”. 

Jasmine Lapointe, Lecturer at Edinburgh College, applauded the students for choosing such a significant project which made a positive and tangible difference in people’s lives, and said they should all be proud for taking part.  

Obert Dhundu, Leonard Cheshire’s Can Do Coordinator for Edinburgh, said:

“The students expressed a keen interest in embarking on a project that will be impactful not only for themselves but for vulnerable people in the community, and this led them to choose a project centred on homelessness. They showed great commitment in learning about homelessness, as well as the related topics we covered. It was a real privilege to have facilitated this project for them.”

Media enquiries

For further information or interview requests please contact Isaac Corrick (Marketing and Communications Officer) at isaac.corrick@leonardcheshire.org or 07711 188 161.