Building bridges in Gillingham: sixth formers engage in community service, enhancing life skills and enriching the town with their spirited volunteerism
Gillingham School Sixth Form have been working hard to build links with the local community, in a project led by assistant head of sixth form, El Little.
Over the course of the school year, all students will undertake a half term of volunteering. The purpose of the work is to help develop skills of confidence, communication and community awareness among the students, while also having a positive impact on local residents and beyond. It is part of the wider Personal Development programme within Gillingham Sixth Form, which includes a focus on building leadership skills and providing enrichment opportunities for students.
Old and young
Last term students took on a number of different activities – one of the most successful was visiting residents at Fern Brook Lodge Care Home and The Malthouse Care Home, spending time chatting with the residents. Two of the students are members of TLW Dance Company in Shaftesbury, and they put their skills to good use putting on musical and dance performances at Fern Brook Lodge. The Malthouse residents were treated to home baked cakes! The students involved have found it a very rewarding experience getting to know the residents. One of the 6th formers, Poppy Marshall, says, ‘It was so interesting finding out about the lives of the residents before they came to the care home. I found it really uplifting and it always really brightened my day’.
Care home staff reported that the residents really looked forward to the visits and loved the singing and dancing. Because the residents were not able to attend the school’s Christmas Carol Concert, on the last day of the school term members of the school orchestra, led by head of music Liam Carey, visited Fern Brook Lodge to put on a Christmas music performance.
Another group oversaw the organisation of the Rotary Club Shoebox Appeal within school, with individuals and tutor groups putting together shoe boxes to be sent to children in eastern European countries for Christmas. This involved promoting the appeal within the school, raising funds for donations, and organising the delivery and collection of boxes to be sent off. Further charity events have taken place in school, led by students, to raise funds for local organisations.
There have also been students regularly litter picking on a Wednesday afternoon in Gillingham town centre – providing an opportunity not only to tidy the streets, but also to interact with local members of the community.
The school has been support through the project by Dextra Group, who supplied the school with hi-vis jackets and lanyards with the school logo and slogan ‘Gillingham School Serving the Community’. This has allowed the public to see the positive work the students are undertaken.
Over the coming months, the Sixth Form are planning to extend the community project further and to link with other local organisations to deepen the relationship between the school and town.
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