…and The Ugly Fruit Group (TUFG)
When I originally came to Durham in the midst of the Covid pandemic, I knew I still wanted to do something that could help give back to the local community whilst staying true to my passions in sustainability. With plenty of time on my hands thanks to online lectures, I stumbled across an Enactus Durham student-based project called The Ugly Fruit Group (TUFG) which aims to tackle food poverty and waste in the North East, and decided to join their publicity team (whilst also applying to 10 other positions simultaneously). Never did I think that that fateful decision would end up with me attending and winning the Enactus National Finals with the project that me and one of my best friends have been leading!
At TUFG, I’ve been lucky enough to work with a group of talented and like-minded students, staff and community members who are helping supply foodbanks across County Durham with surplus or leftover fresh produce that we rescue from local retailers. Any remaining food, we use to create our own delicious products that you can find in stores like Robinsons or at eco-festivals like Greenspace. The profits are then used to help run interactive and educational workshops about food waste. Our work has only become more vital during the recent cost of living crisis, with 1 in 5 people now missing meals in County Durham, a national record.
What is Enactus?
After joining, I discovered that TUFG is not the only project in Durham working to inspire genuine change. It is one of five projects under Enactus Durham. But what does that mean? Well, Enactus is a global network of student social enterprises working to tackle the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), all branching into their respective universities which organise and help to found new initiatives each year.
Not only this, but they also help to provide invaluable advice and expertise you certainly wouldn’t be able to get during your time at university otherwise, allowing fast track access to internships, connecting with international business leaders, and landing exciting opportunities such as collaborating with Asda, or receiving consulting and funding services from Sodexo (to name just a few!). It’s the sort of support that any entrepreneurial or environmentally-inclined student would love to have.
The national finals
The national finals subsequently provide a perfect opportunity for us to display our self-led achievements to the rest of the country. Combining largely with Taka Taka Zero, a group fuelling sustainable futures in Nairobi that had a similar theme of reusing waste in innovative ways, we also collaborated with other Durham projects including GlowCycle, WeCraft and Trashion, whose projects you can find in detail below. After progressing through regionals, the leaders of TTZ and TUFG, alongside Enactus Durham, presented our national presentation to 120 industry leaders as judges, from the House of Lords to Natwest, to Amazon (a rather nerve-wracking sight to behold – never mind the hundreds of other people attending!)
Enactus Durham won the national competition!
Miraculously, in spite of the incredible projects led by other university finalists, Enactus Durham was selected as the winner for the national competition, meaning we win £2,500 in funding from Ford AND progress to the World Cup Finals in Utrecht this October! (Whilst I might have preferred somewhere more glamorous like Puerto Rico which was last year’s destination, I can hardly complain given how beautiful the Netherlands is!) This means that instead of competing against just our country’s universities, we will be fighting to be crowned the world champion amidst representatives from 34 other nations. Not only does this signify more terrifying public presentations, but also the opportunity for our strongest Durham projects to potentially become fully-fledged enterprises if we do manage to clutch the prize.
Join us on our journey or get involved too!
I for one am incredibly excited to see what the competition brings in October, and to showcase our brilliant initiatives, all launched from Durham minds to the rest of the world. I hope you’ll be interested in joining me on this journey, or potentially even getting involved yourself by joining Enactus Durham or any of the individual projects like The Ugly Fruit Group!
And a message for Aanya, my co-project leader
With greatest thanks and admiration to Aanya, my Co-Project Leader and close friend for nearly a decade now, without whom none of this would have ever been possible!
To find out more, you can visit Enactus Durham
To find out about opportunities to develop yourself at Durham, visit Develop Yourself – Durham University