Buckingham teenager wins community hero award, after Marcus Rashford-inspired hot meals programme helps hundreds

This 14-year-old received a prestigious award for his voluntary work helping those in need in the Bucks community.

Wednesday, 10th March 2021, 5:10 pm

Sulayman I, was one of 22 recipients of the 2021 Census Purple Plaques awards, recognising ordinary people who have achieved extraordinary things.

Following, footballer Marcus Rashford's, tireless efforts to ensure those in need received free meals throughout the pandemic. Sulayman set up Buckingham Free Meals last October to provide hot meals and food parcels for people in need in the local area.

The project has mobilised a small army of volunteers to help generate donations, prepare, cook and deliver food to anyone in Buckingham or within a 10-mile radius, and in this latest lockdown alone has been providing up to 300 meals a week.

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Sulayman I, Buckingham schoolboy, won a national award for creating a project to help get hot meals to people in need

Sulayman said: “I am truly honoured to have received the Census 2021 Community Hero Award, amongst the hundreds of entries that were submitted.

"I wanted to do something that would help the people in my own community in these challenging times and the support of so many volunteers alongside me has helped to make this vision a reality in the last six months.”

It was the UK government's decision in October to discontinue free-school vouchers during half-term that inspired the 14-year-old. Sulayman single-handedly mobilised a small army of volunteers, found a premises from which to operate and attracted enough donations from local supermarkets and businesses to provide over 500 hot lunches in one week to children and families in need.

Through the power of social media the Buckingham schoolboy was able to bring the Bucks community together to make a significant difference.

The project restarted to once again help families in need over Christmas and New Year. Sulayman and his squad of volunteers provided over 500 further hot meals to locals in need and this time extended the project to couples and individuals struggling regardless of whether they had kids or not.

By the end of 2020 Buckingham Free Meals, Sulayman's project, had delivered over 1000 meals.

Buckingham Free Meals is still active in the community and has 20-30 volunteers on any given week. The service is for the unemployed, elderly or anyone within the area in need of help getting food, whilst shielding against the virus.

Sulayman was one of two winners of the Purple Plaque award from the South East region. Census organisers handed out 22 awards for local heros in their community, to commemorate the 22 years since the Census began.