In a magnificent effort, volunteers from the Castle School collected more than a quarter of a tonne of foodstuffs for the local Foodbank in time for Christmas.
The efforts of the whole school built on the long-standing Castle in the Community scheme between ourselves and the Sixth Form. Since 2011 it has offered Year 12 and 13 students the opportunity to volunteer in their local community for two hours a week during term time.
Students have been placed within community organisations in the Thornbury area to carry out a wide variety of tasks, from shop work to befriending, marketing to fundraising, gardening to maintenance work, from supporting children and adults with disabilities to maintaining our heritage. Participation has helped students develop their confidence and better understand the needs of the local community.
This year, however, has been very different.
It was obvious at the beginning of the new school year in September that it wasn’t going to be possible to run the scheme as normal because of the pandemic. Many of the organisations where we place the students were closed and the students were having to cope with massive disruptions to their schooling. But the student council very much wanted to help out at Christmas and asked us what they could do.
We contacted the Thornbury Foodbank to see if they needed additional donations. This resulted in a school-wide competition to see which tutor group could collect the most, resulting in 284kg arriving at the Foodbank at the Baptist Church by the end of term. Mair Vaughan, Foodbank organiser, was deeply appreciative and thanked the students for their wonderful help.
We also contacted the local care homes in Thornbury and asked if they would like their residents to receive Christmas cards from the students. Beech House and the Grace Care Centre jumped at the idea. In the week before Christmas the students delivered 90 cards to the residents. The school swing band produced a festive music video, coordinated by Tom Elderton and Cerys Dutfield, and this was shared across the whole school and the two care homes.
Sarah Ockenden, head of Castle School Sixth Form, said: “It has been wonderful to see our students thinking of others during this dark time. We appreciate the work they’ve done in thinking of others to bring a bit of light to both the school and wider community.”
We are to be charity of the month during May at the Swan Inn. Many events are planned — details to follow.
Join us at our Spring Sale on Saturday 27 April at the Thornbury Methodist Church Hall.
Christmas tabletop sale
Our sale on 11 November was hugely enjoyable and financially successful.
Sources of Help booklet
Our invaluable guide to organisations that can help you in need is available online.
Discover your perfect volunteering opportunity
Contribute your time and skills to the local community.
We post details of new volunteering opportunities on and local groups.