Volunteer Victoria encourages BPP University Law School students to help homeless people in Manchester

A kind-hearted BPP University Law School student has spoken of her pride after she and her classmates volunteered to help the homeless.

Four years ago, Victoria Waller became involved in Manchester-based Mustard Tree – an indoor soup kitchen which last year fed around 5,000 people living on the streets.

And having been inspired by Mustard Tree’s band of dedicated volunteers, caring Victoria decided to involve her BPP University Law School friends and ask them to serve in the soup kitchen over Christmas.

The volunteering was so successful that Victoria wants to roll-out regular rotas for students and continue to volunteer their time at the kitchen in Oldham Road.

“After my first night at the soup run, I understood just how important the soup kitchen was and how much it offered,” said the 33-year-old final year Legal Practice Course student at BPP University’s site in Manchester.

“The volunteers and staff at Mustard Tree are inspiring people and I have been very lucky to work alongside them.

“The Human Rights Unit, part of BPP University’s Pro Bono Centre, put forward the idea of supporting a soup kitchen and I thought it would be a fantastic opportunity to show students some of Mustard Tree’s work.

“The volunteers were brilliant. They worked hard and really connected with everyone around them. I was also so proud to see students and BPP University staff generously donating warm clothing.”

Lucy Wildig, North West’s Pro Bono Manager for BPP University Law School, added: “Victoria’s passion for helping people was infectious and as soon as she brought the opportunity to me, I knew it would be a perfect fit for our Human Rights Unit to embrace, alongside staff as well.

“We are in the process of rolling this out on a regular basis for a mixture of BPP University staff and students to help. I’m sure it will be a partnership we can foster for a long time.”

Victoria, of Whitefield near Bury, first became involved with Mustard Tree after she left her teaching job of ten years to pursue a law career and volunteered at different organisations such as the Citizens Advice Bureau.

There she witnessed first-hand just how much of a demand there was for food parcels and decided to help by sparing her time to serve at Mustard Tree.

Mustard Tree, which can typically serve around 100 people on a Friday night alone, relies on donations to supply warm food, clothing and toiletries.

“The drive to challenge the difficult situations that people can find themselves in as a result of various obstacles in their life, and which Mustard Tree focuses on, is one of the elements of the organisation that I admire the most,” said Victoria.

“Volunteering at the soup kitchen makes me feel positive and angry all at the same time.

“I have met people who have been, and continue to be, disregarded by society and a system that is meant to help.

“The inequality and apathy that guests have experienced drives me to continue to ensure that wherever possible, this is being challenged.

“Ultimately, this is how I aim to use my legal education – to set it against the obstacles that everyday people face. And on the other hand, the level of compassion and empathy that is demonstrated every Friday night shows me that change is possible.”

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