A little over 3 months ago, on June 18th 2018, Tolly Boy launched their grassroots campaign “Spread the Joy with Toll Boy” to support African and Bangladeshi communities in the UK. A campaign which committed to offer prize donations to deserving community projects, helping them strive, thrive and flourish. From employability to healthy luncheons, from vocational training to caring for the elderly, twenty community groups came forward and registered their interest in this campaign, which promised to bring hope and joy to their local community. A campaign thoroughly supported by community groups, community businesses and media came to its culmination on the 18th of September when the top three winning groups were rewarded for their efforts.

84 days and 20,341 votes later, the winners of the Spread the Joy with Tolly Boy campaign were acknowledged during an awards ceremony at Wapping Youth Centre. The occasion was filled with heart-warming stories of the journey undertaken by community groups and appreciation for Tolly Boy who has partnered with their wider community & the projects that help to make their communities flourish.

Present at the event were the three winning community groups – Wapping Bangladesh Association, Nigerian Community of Waltham Forest (NICOWF) and Bangladesh Women’s Association, who were commended by Nicolas Hanson, Managing Director Westmill Foods, Chris Craig, Commercial Director Westmill Foods, Ricky Oberoi, Account Director Westmill Foods, and Steven Perry, Senior Brand Manager Tolly Boy.

Sharing his experience, Mr Atikur from Wapping Bangladesh Association, the overall prize winners of £10,000, said: “We are excited to win such a huge competition. We usually apply for straight forward funding because when mechanisms such as voting are involved, the feedback we receive is usually less positive as people are often reluctant. However, this campaign was different, with the Tolly Boy team encouraging us all the way and helping us spread the word. From family, friends to the wider community such as the mosque next door, everyone was motivated in spreading the joy since Tolly Boy was going to help the community in return.” The funding will be used for their Healthy Eating project. This project not only serves the community need of promoting healthy eating practices amongst elderly people, but also encourages them to come together for recreational activities twice a week. With this funding the charity group looks forward to organising such meet ups at least four times a week and in addition, plans to hold educational classes for women.

Mr. Faniku from Nigerian Community in Waltham Forest, first runner-up receiving a prize of £5,000, said: “Tolly Boy is the favourite rice for the Nigerian community in the UK and when they initiated a campaign to help the Nigerian community, we knew this was a great opportunity for us and it was our time to spread the word and work hard towards winning. The response has been overwhelming and now whenever people see me in Waltham Forest, they look at me and say ‘Tolly Boy’!”. NICOWF plans to use this funding to organise events in their community to highlight the essence of society and how everyone can contribute to shape the society one lives in. In a candid moment, Mr. Faniku, also shared how excited they were as a community to be in friendly rivalry with other charities to win the competition!

Spread the Joy with Tolly Boy has helped facilitate conversations around the challenges and good work that charities involved in the campaign carry out. The second runner up was Bangladeshi Women’s Association who were awarded £2,500. Ms Amina Chowdhary from the charity said: “It is really challenging to convince people to come out of their comfort zone and try something new. People around us were using different brands of rice, but we tried convincing them to try Tolly Boy by telling them how Tolly Boy would help the community in return. The good thing was that not only were people convinced to participate but were also happy with the quality of Tolly Boy, making it their household favourite”. The group helps empowering not only women from the Bangladeshi community with education, training and employment, but also a variety of other communities. With the campaign money, they plan to provide additional classes for employment and training services. They will additionally provide practical office skills training to enable these women excel in their future jobs.

Talking about the journey, Senior Brand Manager of Tolly Boy Steven Perry said: “It was fantastic to see votes increase week by week and how community groups really took the initiative to improve their standing in the competition. Community groups from all over the UK – Manchester, Birmingham, Leicester and London, were devoted to spreading the joy and helping their community project win.  We would like to thank all the community groups for their unwavering support and hard work in helping their own communities and the campaign itself become a huge success!”