A UNIVERSITY student, pledged to serve 1,000 free Christmas dinners to vulnerable people across Salford, desperately needs more donations of food and cash.

Natalie Lek has approached more than six local supermarkets but so far been offered just £20.

The mother-of-five’s appeal caters for those who may live alone and feel isolated or families on a low income.

Now in its fifth year the beneficiaries have snowballed keeping 30 volunteers busy with deliveries until 6pm on Christmas Day.

Ms Lek, who studies corporate law at  the University of Salford, began with just 70 meals in 2013.

Ms Lek explained: “I’m just looking to make sure vulnerable people who need a Christmas dinner get what they need. I was on my own one Christmas and  I just thought this would be a good use of my time.”

[pullquote]”My main concern is the more expensive items such as the 16 turkeys and eight hams I need”[/pullquote]

The cut off point for anyone wishing to apply for a meal from the cause is Christmas Eve 12pm.

Natalie explained how she approached her local store and was offered  20 pounds.”I spoke to the charity champion for Asda in Swinton and was told they could only offer me twenty pounds in free items.

“They couldn’t offer me any more this close to Christmas as they are limited in the capacity they can donate.”

Asda Swinton colleague Keri Copeland explained :”The budget is £100 per month for the various charities we support, so the lower spend on each donations allows  for more charities to be helped. There is a strict criteria they have to meet/Community colleagues have to follow.”

Ms Lek used to buy all the ingredients herself but due to an increase in demand she’s opened a Just Giving Page. The page was opened to assist with the financing of the project.

Ms Lek explained “I used to buy it all myself but my friend went mad at me and suggested opening a just giving page to allow people to donate to the cause as a lot of people want to be involved.”

Ms Lek has concerns about the more costly ingredients as the charity is yet to receive any donations of meats to the cause.

“My main concern is the more expensive items such as the 16 turkeys and eight hams I need to supply the 1000 meals and twenty pounds isn’t going to cover that. I don’t expect any single supermarket to donate all of these items but twenty pounds won’t buy a turkey.”

All the money that is donated to the “Community Christmas dinner charity” is put into food parcels for those the volunteers and charity identify as in need.

Ms Lek is looking for donations of ingredients towards the Christmas dinners. The 1000 dinners will be produced in Ms Lek’s own kitchen.

For anyone able to donate items please see Just giving link for contact details for Natalie Lek. If you’d like to put yourself or anyone else forward for a meal please see the justgiving page.

To hear the full interview watch below.



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