Springwood has been doing its bit to put a smile on people’s faces and a dinner on their plate this Christmas after the whole school got involved in a donation drive for the Purfleet Trust.
“In the past we’ve done this with Year 7 and Year 8 students during Advent, but everyone’s aware how tough times are this year, so we decided to expand it across the whole school,” said Alice Betts, who teaches Religious Education and Sociology at Springwood.
“The campaign has been introduced through tutor time, where the children are encouraged to discuss current affairs, and they’ve been talking about how homelessness and poverty are still such a big problem in our society.”
Alice admitted that the example of Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford, and his efforts to help feed struggling families, had given the school’s efforts an extra impetus.
“I think it has helped raise awareness among young people and made it almost cool to help those in need,” she said. “Rather than the request of giving to charity coming from an authority figure, like their teacher, it is coming from a role model.
"I think he has also helped them to see that poverty is more common amongst their peers than maybe they had realised before.”
Charitable work is encouraged in Years 8 and 9 at Springwood, which is part of the West Norfolk Academies Trust, through the school’s own Endeavour programme and the Duke of Edinburgh award scheme, but Alice said there had never been anything on this scale before, and she hoped it would become an annual fixture.
“I’ve been so impressed by the response of the children, and I’m really hoping it will have inspired some individuals to take this further,” she said. “It’s been such a success that I will definitely be running it again next Christmas.”
She also said she hoped this year’s initiative would not just do people a good turn this Christmas, but also leave a more lasting impact on students.
“I suppose the short-term target is to ensure the most vulnerable in our local community are supported,” she added. “But in the longer term, I'm hoping to make this a frequent charity partnership and to increase the number of students undertaking charitable work of their own accord.”