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More than 1,000 food parcels for struggling families

The parcels will be packed by Army, local and Festival Republic volunteers Credit: Salvation Army

Volunteers from the Salvation Army in Reading are packing up more than 1,000 food parcels for struggling families in Berkshire.

The number of food parcels is four times higher than the amount needed five years ago.

The parcels will be packed and handed out by the Salvation army, local volunteers and volunteers from Festival Republic - the organisers behind the Reading Festival.


Parents protest for new school in Benenden

Benenden school pupils protest over new building Credit: Benenden CEP

More than 50 parents and children waving banners and placards have protested on the green in Benenden about the need for a new village school.

Benenden Primary has planning permission for an entirely new school to replace its crumbling buildings – but no funding.

The school is currently split across two sites - one dating back to the 17th century - and children have to cross the busy main road through the village to walk between them. It currently has no school hall or dining hall, and no kitchen.

The Department for Education is in the process of considering which schools will be awarded funding for new buildings.

The People's Millions - and the winner is...

For the ninth year running, ITV has teamed up with the Big Lottery Fund - to give away up to £50,000 to a project that could enhance a community.

Each night - over three nights - two groups will go 'head to head' - to say why their project deserves the money from The People's Millions.

There will be a bonus award for the project that receives the highest number of runner-up votes.

On Monday evening, the head-to-head ij the west of the region was between the project to restore a part of Saltdean Lido - and The Wild Reading Project. Andy Dickenson went along to surprise the winner.

  1. Sarah Saunders @SSaundersITV

Smiles whatever the weather as Herne Bay Pier wins lottery money

For the ninth year running, ITV has teamed up with the Big Lottery Fund - to give away up to fifty thousand pounds to a project that could enhance a community near you.

Support Herne Bay Pier won the money to build covers, allowing entertainment to carry on whatever the weather. Sarah Saunders spoke to pier trustee Doreen Stone.

Online warning over classic Christmas scams

Online shoppers in Kent are being warned to be extra vigilant in the run up to Christmas.

With just a month left until the big day, a new guide's been released to help bargain hunters avoid being conned.

The Rough Guide to Online Safety gives tips and helpful advice on classic internet scams.

Common tricks on popular shopping and auction sites involve sellers not sending items once they've been paid for.

Other sites pretend to offer goods, but instead collect credit card details for fraudsters.

You can access the free guide here.


Retailers expected to struggle this Christmas

Retailers this Christmas will find it a tough challenge to match last year's festive spending figure of ninety one billion pounds, according to research.

Academics from the University of Oxford say that changing shopping habits, continued economic uncertainty and low wage rates will have a significant impact on shopping this year.

Shoppers get their hands on some bargains. Credit: PA

We have found that overdoing the Christmas cheer with flashing bright lights and piping fast-paced music such as Jingle Bells into stores puts shoppers under greater pressure. Less harsh lighting, pleasant smells and gentler seasonal music such as The Nutcracker are far more likely to put us in the mood for spending.

– Nancy Puccinelli, Associate Professor in Marketing, Saïd Business School

The research also showed that poor selling techniques, extravagant Christmas promotions, and sharp rises in online shopping all contribute to the fall in sales.

Students pay up to £10,000 in rent

Now how much would you be prepared to pay for your son or daughter's university digs? How about ten thousand pounds a year? Providing top quality halls of residence is now being seen as one of the most effective ways to attract students who pay rent of hundreds of pounds a week on top of tuition fees.

In the Meridian region in the last three years alone more than three thousand extra rooms have been created for rent. And it's so lucrative, some private companies are even getting in on the act - one block has just opened in Southampton that charges rent of around £250 a week for its most exclusive student apartments. Our social affairs correspondent Christine Alsford spoke to students at the University of Reading, the university's Vice-Chancellor Sir David Bell, University of Sussex student union representative Mark Segalov and student Shlok Sachar who lives in a Vita Student apartment.

How many new rooms for students in the South?

Universities across the South are investing heavily in student accommodation.

Good quality halls of residence are being seen as a key battleground in the fight to attract students.

Here are details of how some of our universities are expanding provision this year: University of Oxford - 200 new rooms; University of Kent - 416 new rooms; Buckinghamshire New University - 180 new rooms; University of Reading - 649 new rooms.

Many universities are investing heavily in new student accommodation Credit: ITV Meridian
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