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The Children's Society Kit Collection

During the past few weeks our Year 11 Chapel Volunteers organised a kit collection in aid of The Children's Society.

Will Cherry, Ed Mercer and Josh Turner, our Year 11 Chapel Volunteers, along with the support of our school Chaplain, have been working on a project to support The Children’s Society, which is this year’s Chapel Harvest Charity.

The Children’s Society, a national charity with a local branch based in Coventry, helps young people who have had an unimaginably hard start to life. A more specific area of what they do is looking after young, Syrian refugees who have lost their parents and ended up in England with no one else to look after them. They have come here with nothing.

"Our Chaplain was contacted by an ambassador for the charity, who asked if Warwick School might be able to collect and donate old sports equipment to them. The Chaplain invited our input on the decision, as Chapel Volunteers, and we thought that this would be a great initiative, as Sport is such an integral aspect of all of the schools in the Foundation.

Shiza Khan, the Refugee and Migrant Service Manager for the charity said, “Many of the young people and families we work with have been exposed to multiple traumatic events relating to conflict, persecution and displacement. We have seen first-hand how sport can have such a profoundly positive impact on their mental health, and their abilities to manage the daily stress and uncertainty they are dealing with. So many of them are deeply passionate and exceptionally talented footballers, cricketers, runners, cyclists, dancers – everything! Unfortunately, during the Covid-19 pandemic, many have been confined to single or shared accommodation with little access to green spaces or funds for sports facilities, clothing or equipment. Some of them also experience digital exclusion, preventing them from accessing online activities. Without sports, activities and in-person support, some of them are having a really difficult time.

Many young refugees are incredibly passionate about sport, someone like this is CJ, who was actually the inspiration for our initiative to support The Children’s Society. As Shiza tells it “CJ was forcibly displaced from his home and his loved ones. He arrived in the UK from Italy in 2019 via the Section 67 ‘Dubs’ scheme, whereby 480 unaccompanied children living in Europe were brought to safety in the United Kingdom. CJ told Shiza, “When I was given the choice to go to the UK or Canada, I chose the UK because that’s where Man United are! I love them. I grew up with them. My father supported them for a long, long time. I think his whole life. My mother supported them too. We must have watched every match together in our home until everything changed and I had to leave. Now, my father has died and my mother is lost but I still share the connection with them of football, because it is something that we all loved, and did together. Although I am alone in England, I feel happier when I get to play football. So, it was really hard for me recently because I couldn’t do the thing I loved. I couldn’t join any football clubs because of coronavirus, and I had no footballs. Now this school has given me so many footballs and trainers, I can play football whenever I want! Knowing that Warwick School cares about my dream – there are no words to show my appreciation.”

Every young person that the charity helps has a poignant story to tell, having had an unimaginably hard experience at a very young age – but something I personally have found during working on this project is that these children, despite their traumatic experiences, have very similar wants and needs to mine, and my peers. One of these is the desire to play sport, to engage in an activity which is nothing more than enjoyable.

Thanks to the amazing support from families at Warwick School we have met the short-term needs of The Children’s Society, and are now looking to work with them towards a bigger, longer-term project.

We have managed to collect about 30 footballs, and one parent even bought us 10 brand-new footballs, which the young people at the charity will love; in addition to this, we’ve collected almost 200 pairs of trainers, more than 50 tennis rackets, and even more hockey sticks. There have been some really generous donations, including a new set of golf clubs, we even got a skateboard and a few pairs of roller skates!

A huge thank you again from the three of us, to everyone who has donated sports kit. The amount of kit donated was unbelievable and surpassed all expectations. You have played an important role in the success of this initiative, and I believe that we really have achieved a special thing."

Josh Turner (Year 11 Chapel Volunteer)