Students and staff at Brentwood School participate in charitable work throughout the year.
The school’s charitable ethos and fundraising framework has been strengthened this year by using a new format. From September, Houses were encouraged to support, visit and raise funds for a local charity. Year groups each chose a National charity, and as a school, each term we focused on choosing an International charity. By dividing up our areas for raising awareness and resources, students were able to learn about the multitude of charities and causes both near and far. I have been incredibly impressed by the students’ commitment to the new charity programme and there have certainly been some inspiring events put on to raise funds.
Notable achievements include £1,154 raised by Alexandra and Katherine Hak for the 4th year charity: the British Heart Foundation. By selling anonymous roses for Valentine’s Day, the girls were able to involve the whole school in their fundraising and there was a fantastic atmosphere on the 14th February when the roses were delivered! Miss Faulkner, a second year tutor, also arranged a fantastic and emotional visit in May from a number of street children from Kolkata who are sponsored by the Hope Foundation. An organisation Miss Faulkner volunteered with, and the school’s Michaelmas charity for which we raised £2300, following the Christmas Fair and Christmas Jumper day. The courage and experiences of the children even inspired Oliver Maltby, a pupil in the second year, and his family to sponsor one of them. This act of kindness is symbolic of the impact raising awareness and funds for charities can have on young people.
The Houses have also made some fantastic connections with local charities. South House had an inspiring assembly from local family charity First Steps, which inspired members of the house to raise funds in their House week. Weald have also formed a strong bond with Little Haven’s Hospice, visiting the centre in Benfleet with the L6 students last term and also running various assemblies with representatives from the charity. Focusing on local charities has also allowed Houses to make a big impact, even if they have not raised as much money as the larger school-wide fundraising has. The fact that students can meet with and visit the local charities also allows them to get an insight into the issues facing people in their area and inspires them further with how they can help to make a change.
In addition to the fundraising scheme put in place, I have been humbled and made incredibly proud of certain students who have taken on fundraising events due to simply being inspired or having a personal connection with another charity. For example, Niamh Doherty and Kitty Chalk in the First Year raised £500 for the WWF, following a series of bake sales and competitions. Charlie Brennan in the First Year raised funds for St. Francis’ Hospice, a charity very close to his heart. Bess Taggart in the First Year also worked with the Music department to enable more funds to be raised for the First Year charity, Rosie’s Rainbow Fund, by getting the Junior Chamber Concert audience to provide voluntary donations on the night of the performance. It is encouraging to see that the students are aware of the value charitable work has and how small gestures make a huge difference to those in need.
The Voluntary Service Activity, or VSA, is a reformed concept of the previous school Community Service Unit (CSU). The VSA is formed of 3rd-U6th year pupils and meets at the normal CSU slot of 3.30pm - 5pm on Fridays. The VSA seeks to widen students’ awareness and interest in a wide range of community and international initiatives. These range from how to contribute to conservation, attempts to reverse the effects of global warming, help the elderly or those with specific needs, as well as learn key skills such as sign language and first aid. In order to establish ourselves as a cohesive unit with a strong identity, the Michaelmas term’s programme will be formed of external workshops from organisations and charities, given in the Wessex Auditorium. This will also include follow-up activities in smaller groups the following week, led by staff and 6th form students. This allows various different organisations to shed light on the important work they do, and hopefully will inspire all students. It is particularly beneficial for the 3rd year students, unless they are involved in Duke of Edinburgh preparation, as they can feel fully involved in making a difference and becoming more globally aware.
For the remaining two terms, staff lead Friday activities in small groups, consisting of visits to local care homes, teaching First Aid or Sign Language and there will hopefully be some new activities for students to get involved in that haven’t been run before. In terms of field days, we hope to make these enriching and as interactive as possible for students, consisting of visits to conservation centres or volunteering in special needs schools and care homes. There is also scope in the future for residential trips helping on projects in developing countries and contact has been made with the Hope Foundation, who run such trips to Kolkata in India.