17 February 2016

Six students with learning difficulties or disabilities at Central College Nottingham collected over 23,000 leftover Christmas cards to donate to Marks & Spencer’s (M&S) Woodland Trust Christmas Card Recycling Scheme this winter.

As a result, 23 trees will be planted to bring massive benefits to the environment. It is thought to be one of the largest single hauls of cards one group has collected since the scheme began.

Last term, the students discussed the idea of raising money for charity as a practical activity they could take part in as part of their Horizons course in Lifeskills Entry Level 1 at the college’s Stapleford Centre.

One of their priorities was to help the environment, so they decided to help the Woodland Trust. The students designed posters and a flyer, went out into the local community and recruited the general public to help in their Christmas card collection appeal throughout January. They even recruited some local residents to help by acting as collection points.

The grand total was 23,310 cards, which were dropped off at M&S in Nottingham. For every 1000 cards recycled M&S will donate enough money to plant a native British tree. So the students’ collection will be responsible for planting 23 new trees.

Mark Johnson, Curriculum Manager for Horizons at Central, said:

“What a fantastic achievement by the students. This really helps increase awareness of how our learners can support and help their community and local environment in a positive and rewarding way. At the same time, they learn and then demonstrate new skills with number, communication and undertaking practical tasks to help achieve their qualifications.”

From January 2 to January 31 2015 M&S had collection boxes instore and money generated through the card recycling scheme will fund the planting of new trees throughout the UK.

Joanne Mathieson, Corporate Fundraiser at the Woodland Trust, said:

“The achievements of students at Central College are really amazing and we can’t thank them enough. Their efforts will bring tremendous benefits to trees and woods here in the UK – from providing homes for wildlife, places for recreation and increasing our natural spaces.

“We have had so many groups, from communities to schools across the UK collecting cards; it really has proved so popular. We always say that the scheme’s success is because of its simplicity - simply collect up those cards after Christmas that are often lying about, take them to your local M&S store (there are bins in most stores) - and M&S will do the rest and trees will be planted.”

As part of the project, the students also held fundraising activities last term, raising £55 to donate directly to the Woodland Trust.

Since M&S starting running the scheme in 2012 over 32 million cards have been collected and recycled in this way, meaning that the Woodland Trust has been able to plant an extra 32,000 native trees across the country.

Central College Nottingham is an emfec member college, running full-time courses for school leavers aged 16 and over, and part-time courses for adults and local businesses.