Four hundred school children from disadvantaged families in the Watford area are receiving backpacks thanks to a whirlwind logistical operation to get them ready in time for the new school term.
The Watford-based Hand on Heart project sourced the materials and assembled the packs in just eight days before delivering them in a fleet of six cars to One Vision at Stanborough Park Church on Saturday.
One Vision, which provides a network for voluntary organisations in the town to exchange information and co-ordinate activities, will then distribute the backpacks to children from ten primary and secondary schools.
The Watford Observer reported last month how the Hand on Heart Project, which helps homeless, had expanded its operation to help disadvantaged children.
Elected Mayor of Watford Peter Taylor visited the project at its headquarters in the town, off Lower High Street, in August to find out more about initiative that saw an initial 250 backpacks given to two charities that requested them, Sufra and Ealing Soup Kitchen.
The backpacks contain items such as notebooks, rulers, pens and erasers and following the mayor’s visit Hand on Heart got in touch with One Vision, which placed the order for 400 backpacks soon after.
The homeless project’s co-founder Afzal Pradhan said: “We knew we were under pressure because we had a week and a day to get the supplies and assemble the packs and we did it in eight days which was quite a remarkable achievement.
“The supplies was the toughest. We had people from Birmingham and Leicester, as well as dotted around this part of London, just going to their local Tesco and purchasing these items and delivering them to us at our local Watford HQ.”
Hand on Heart used its own funds to purchase the supplies, although Afzal is hoping a grant application will be successful, and last Saturday it delivered the packs to One Vision where they met by volunteers, Watford MP Dean Russell and councillors Rabi Martins and Asif Khan.
Afzal said: “We spent a lot of time with One Vision, talking about what they do and learning more about them and at the end of it we almost became a family and we’re going to work together. Any requirements they have, we’re going to work together in future projects.”