Celebrating service to the community at St Johns School Leatherhead

Sixth form students at St John’s in Leatherhead, the leading co-educational independent secondary school renowned for its outstanding pastoral care and academic strength, are joining in the celebrations around Student Volunteering Week Feb 20-24. The school has a long history of supporting local charities and institutions – its students have clocked up 15,000 volunteering hours over the last five years, supporting over 25 organisations in their local community.

The aim of Student Volunteering Week, organised by the National Union of Students, is to celebrate the positive impact students have on their communities through volunteering locally year in, year out, throughout the country. In Leatherhead, students from St John’s School undertake a wide range of volunteering opportunities including reading with   primary school pupils; spending time in care homes, including teaching computer skills to the elderly, delivering lunches for a charity for the homeless and working with youth clubs and Brownie groups. Others work with Seeability and Mencap, befriending those with mental and physical disabilities.

“Our school is rooted in the local community and we are very proud of the work our students do to reinforce those links,” said Louise Ellis Barrett who runs the Community Service Unit at St John’s. “It provides them with important life skills and teaches them the value of community and of helping those less fortunate than themselves. In turn the organisations involved benefit from the additional support for their hard work.

“It integrates groups such as the elderly and the very young, breaking down preconceived misconceptions. We know that our pupils gain valuable experience in terms of being in a position of responsibility and trust. They personally benefit considerably by being able to demonstrate that they care. Many come back and comment on how much they enjoy the visits and the relationships and friendships built.”

In addition, the school was awarded ‘Community Initiative of the Year’ at the prestigious TES Independent School Awards 2015 for its St John’s School Community Holiday -  a week-long residential holiday for 20 children with a range of special needs, aged between 10 and 18. Sixth form pupils at St John’s volunteer 24-hours a day during the week to provide each child with one-to-one care and attention, involving games, stories and activities.

Pupil feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Ben Gadsby, aged 18 and a student in the Upper Sixth, is currently spending time coaching young footballers at West Ashstead Primary School. “I really enjoy it,” he said. “It’s a nice feeling when the children are so excited to see us and I feel I’ve built up strong relationships with them all”.  

 

Local organisations too have nothing but praise for St John’s pupils and find them to be very helpful, willing and able.

     
   
   
 
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