Brighton Aldridge Community Academy (BACA) opened in 2010 serving an area of east Brighton that hasn’t historically benefited from the investment and resources other parts of the city attract.
When the Government announced that schools and other community organisations would have to close their doors indefinitely due to the COVID-19 global pandemic, the academy knew this would be worrying news for the local community and wanted to help.
Principal Bob Speight said “There are many unknowns in the coming weeks and months, but we are keen to do everything we can to support this project and help the community get through this challenging period. While we are doing all we can as a school to support our students’ learning and wellbeing during this period, we know we have to also reach out further.
The academy is lucky to have fantastic catering facilities and a true professional in chef Ricky Hodgson, who was willing to combine his vital role as Head of Year 10 with the leadership of this project.”
The Bevy is a groundbreaking community pub and café that has been serving the local area for five years. The academy’s students and staff have worked on projects with the Bevy before, including support with The Friday Friends Club – a charity which provides a weekly meal and entertainment for more than 50 seniors.
With some help from other local organisations, BACA joined the Bevy in setting up a meals-on-wheels service to support vulnerable members of the community. Within a week, a core team of staff had cooked, chilled and frozen over 800 meals that could be safely and easily reheated at home.
Bob Speight added: “Since then, we are delighted to announce that Sir Rod Aldridge, through the Aldridge Foundation charity, is making a £10,000 contribution to support this project over the next two months, which hugely increases numbers of people we can reach. That funding will enable an additional 400 meals per week over the next 12 weeks to be cooked and distributed to the most vulnerable students and families surrounding BACA.”
Chef Ricky, who has been leading the efforts in the kitchen, said: “To be in a position to help out in any small way in the community I have been a part of for many years is really important to me”. Also amongst the team is long term BACA community member Carly, who said “This collaboration is an essential way of maintaining our great work and continuity whilst supporting our local community at such a hard time.” Senior Student Manager Adam Smith added “I feel that the school has and always will be a pivotal part of the community. When we can, we will help.”
The meals are made in the academy’s catering kitchen and are produced from surplus food ingredients and fresh produce, coordinated and delivered to BACA via the Bevy, from Fareshare Sussex, Brighton Food Factory and other local organisations. The team then provides a contact-free, doorstep delivery service of these meals, tinned goods and other essentials to families in need.
“We have seen a great response to our efforts so far and we intend to continue to do as much as we can to support those in need” concluded Bob Speight.