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March 29th 2023

Leila shortlisted for Mayor of Lewisham Community Awards

In 2021, Leila (then aged 8, now Year 6) amazed us all, and hit the news, by cooking more than 100 portions of meatballs for a local foodbank. Now we are incredibly proud to announce that she was shortlisted for a Mayor of Lewisham Community Award, and was presented with a certificate by Damien Egan, the Mayor of Lewisham, for her charity work in the Under 21s category at a ceremony last week at the Civic Suite in Catford. 

Leila had a wonderful evening and the certificate marked her shortlisting in the Young Persons Category. She was one of the youngest nominees there and was delighted to share the evening with hundreds of other community volunteers. She also got to capture the moment with one of her biggest supporters and mentors Mayoress Dawn Atkinson, who runs the Evelyn Community Store in Deptford, where Leila donated her meatballs. 

Leila's community work was first noticed during the pandemic when, aged 8, she was inspired by footballer Marcus Rashford's campaign to end child food poverty and decided to act to help children in her community. She launched her Meatball Cook-A-Thon to cook 100 meals of meatballs and rigatoni which she distributed to families at the Evelyn Community Store, followed by 50 portions of risotto. She created a JustGiving page, which raised over £1,200 and she is still fundraising on a regular basis. Her community work was recognised by Marcus Rashford and the chef Tom Kerridge as part of their Full Time Meals campaign, and she was invited to recreate her risotto for their social media campaign. She was also featured in local newspapers and on ITV News London.

Since then, she has been a regular supporter of the Evelyn Community Store, and continues to donate food to the Store and essentials to the Lewisham Bank of Things. She has met many families and children who visit the Evelyn Community Store and created a set of simple child-friendly recipe cards which she printed out and distributed to over 50 families in the community.  

Concerned about how the increasing price of food and electricity would affect families in the community, Leila volunteered during the school summer holidays alongside the Mayoresses of Lewisham with their Uniform & Warm Clothes Appeal, helping with sorting through uniforms, warm clothes and shoes which were given to over 100 families from different primary and secondary schools in and around Lewisham. Everyone walked away with either a new school bag, uniform, warm fleecy pyjamas or a blanket and coat. Leila also generously donated her birthday money to this cause.  

Leila's community support also extended to a state primary school in the borough. When the Junior School was having a library clear-out, Leila asked her teacher whether older books could be donated to Downderry Primary School, who were in the process of setting up a new library space. She boxed up over 300 fiction and non-fiction books which she collected and dropped off to Downderry Primary School. 

As a Charity Prefect at the Junior School Leila, is continuously helping different charities through fundraising. Some of these charities are national - e.g., National Deaf Children's Association who asked her to write a blog about her school fundraising efforts; and some local e.g. she helped coordinate Harvest donations for AFRIL (Action for Refugees in Lewisham) and she raises awareness of these charities by presenting at whole school assemblies.   

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