PEOPLE working with the most deprived in Southampton have said winning City of Culture 2025 will support those in need.

Today judges are set to tour the city as they decide which area will be crowned the UK City of Culture 2025.

While they take in what the city has to offer, those who work with the most vulnerable have said they hope the title will benefit Southampton’s deprived.

Simon Oldham runs a food donation hub near St Mary’s stadium on match days and encourages football fans to donate food to those who are struggling.

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He said the bid will be a “massive uplift” to the city, not just in “sense of pride... but in opportunity for jobs and industries”.

He said the city is “strong, proud, unique” and added residents “deserve to show the country who we are”.

He said: “What we need to ensure is that the bid reaches all across the city, both in sense of place and communities, (and is) an opportunity for all to partake and benefit.”

“(It is) the opportunity for communities, often neglected by the arts in favour of wealthier or more central venues, to see and participate in culture.”

Simon said winning would “inspire the younger generations no matter their backgrounds and build forwards”.

More jobs, tourism and opportunities for those struggling could be created by a victory in the contest, he said.

He added: “We have some of the most deprived areas in the south and this is a great way to lift them and build for the future.

“During these dark economic times we need to lift people up - this is a great way to do it but with a smile on their face as well.”

Julianne Watling-McCarthy, an event organiser at Southampton Pride, said the city is “diverse” but said there is “much deprivation”.

She said: “The Southampton Pride team have been backing Southampton’s bid for City of Culture since the consultation process started some time ago.”

“Southampton is such a diverse city and if we are successful in winning the bid, it will give Southampton a chance to show the rest of the county and the world the great things there are to offer here.

“Southampton is home to so many wonderful people and we have an incredibly diverse and inclusive community.

“There is much deprivation in the city, so being City of Culture will help that by bringing much needed investment into the city.

“We are so excited for the results and are keeping everything crossed.”

Eugene McManus, landlord at The Saints pub in Millbrook, said he hopes deprived areas such as Millbrook will be transformed.

READ MORE: WATCH: City of Culture film shows Southampton in all its glory

“Millbrook lists among the most deprived in the country, it has been fundamentally deprived of investment both public and private.

“Previous winners of the Bid, Hull for example, have witnessed a transformation in their city subsequent to their winning bid.

“Coventry, as the current City of Culture, is receiving hundreds of millions in funding for regeneration projects, improvements to public transport and more.”

He added: “As a club officer for Millbrook FC I trust that grassroots football can benefit from a successful bid.

“Other sports clubs who use Mansel Park too should benefit such as Golden Ring Boxing Club or the Taekwondo Club who use the MP3 Centre.

“The generosity demonstrated throughout the last decade by our customers when hosting charity events is a testament to how great the people of this community and in the wider city are.

“I sincerely hope we, Southampton, are successful with the bid.”

Jessica Clasby-Monk, charitable impact manager at charity City Catering Southampton, said: “We have been proud to support the City of Culture bid at City Catering.

“As a local charity, we know how much partnership work happens in the city to bring communities together – especially over the past few years – and the bid is a perfect way to continue this amazing sense of local pride for everyone.

“We were thrilled to celebrate through our schools meals service earlier in the year, and know that winning the bid, and its legacy, will bring many incredible opportunities, celebrations, developments and progress for our wonderful city and its diverse communities.”

If the city is successful in winning the culture crown, three days of festivities will see tens of thousands of people celebrate in May 2025.

The celebrations will not stop there as these events will be followed by year-long activities on the water, linking rivers across the world and showcasing local festivals to open up access and engagement.

Bradford, County Durham and Wrexham County Borough are also on the shortlist.

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