Tes FE people of the year: Sam Parrett

Sam Parrett has led FE Foodbank Friday to raise almost £50,000 – and helped thousands of disadvantaged people

Kate Parker

Tes FE people of the year: Sam Parrett, who has led the FE Foodbank Friday initiative

A whopping £47,500 – that’s how much money the FE Foodbank Friday initiative has raised (to date) in the past 10 months to support communities across the UK. It’s an incredible amount of money – the equivalent of 905 emergency three-day individual food parcels, making a huge difference to hundreds of people right across the country. 

Leading the campaign is London South East Colleges' chief executive and principal, Sam Parrett. Parrett, who was named this year’s FE leader of the year at the Tes FE Awards, has campaigned tirelessly since the group launched the campaign in March, encouraging other colleges to take part. Her efforts certainly paid off: more than 30 colleges across the UK quickly signed up, collecting both monetary and food donations for their local communities. 


Long read: Meet Sam Parrett, FE's leader of the year 2020

By Sam Parrett: We're proud to be playing a part in the vaccine rollout

Foodbank Friday: Why we're launching a festive version


And support came from outside of the FE sector, too, with the campaign catching the eye of The Great British Bake Off judge Prue Leith, who took to Twitter to congratulate LSEC and encourage others to take part.

Festive Foodbank Friday

In October, Parrett announced in Tes that a festive version would be launched, writing: “Fundraising in tough times is not always easy, but we know that our own college community is incredibly supportive, with people always willing to do what they can to help one another. The Covid-19 pandemic has brought with it much hardship, grief and sadness – but it has also brought about a wonderful sense of community that has been heartwarming to see. I urge other colleges to join us on our mission, which will make a difference to so many people.” 

As part of #FestiveFEFoodbankFriday, Parrett and LSEC encouraged college staff and students to take part in a Santa Dash, asking them to mirror the number of kilometres they walk, run or cycle while in a festive outfit with a monetary donation. 

Their call was answered across the country – and thousands has been, and continues to be, raised as a result. 

This year has been tough for everyone – but shining through the dark times has been the incredible way in which ordinary people have come together to support their communities. With the FE Foodbank Friday campaign, Parrett and LSEC have harnessed the power of FE – and proven what a difference colleges can make when they work as a collective. 

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Kate Parker

Kate Parker is a FE reporter.

Find me on Twitter @KateeParker

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