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Emanuel School has been busy finding ways to support the Wandsworth community during these unprecedented times.
Combining the power of its excellent facilities and altruistic community of pupils, parents and staff, the school is in the fortunate position of being able to reach a wide radius of people in need of extra support during the Covid-19 pandemic. Many key workers and vulnerable families across the borough have benefitted from medical materials, food, children’s books and digital devices, distributed through the school’s partnership links with state primary schools and local charities.
Emanuel joined the drive to deliver vital PPE to local NHS staff early in the lockdown. In March, our estates director Mr Chris Wright collected 125 safety glasses and 25 safety goggles from across the school which were donated to local NHS practices. The Design & Technology department has also been partnering with Helpful Engineering – a volunteer-run, non-profit organisation that works with engineers, scientists and doctors to help solve critical issues rising during the Covid-19 pandemic. Mr Neil Guegan and Miss Alice Foxen have been utilising the department’s machinery and materials to create over 500 visors for staff in local GP practices (including Covid-19 clinics) and nursing homes in North West Surrey.
An increased number of people have been struggling to feed themselves and their families during the pandemic. On Thursday 19th March, as the school closed its doors to pupils for the foreseeable future, the development team loaded one of the school minibuses with enough food to feed over 1000 pupils and delivered it to local food bank and homeless shelter partners St Mark’s Foodbank and Ace of Clubs. The development team subsequently put out an appeal to the school community asking for donations to Foodbank Wandsworth and Spires – a South London charity that helps hundreds of homeless and disadvantaged people. Both organisations struggle to meet demand at the best of times, but demand has grown exponentially during the Covid-19 clinic; many individuals supported by Foodbank Wandsworth are disabled, have long-term health conditions or are single parents of young children. The school raised over £3,000 that was shared equally between the two charities, helping the organisations provide emergency food, basic essentials and clothing to individuals and families in need.
In April, the development team put out a second appeal to help address the food deficit and provide meals to the most vulnerable families at our partner schools. Many families at local state primaries receive Free School Meal vouchers, but these take a long time to process and only cover a small amount towards children’s lunches – not to mention the challenges single parents face when attempting to shop with young children in tow while maintaining social distancing. The money raised from this appeal allowed the school’s catering team to cook 720 hot nutritious meals, which 17 members of staff delivered to 180 of the most vulnerable families at Christ Church, Falconbrook, Goldfinch, Langford and Fulham primary schools.
With schools closed to pupils across the nation and social distancing measures in full force, many children are missing out on both entertainment and education. Mrs Colette Morris, Headteacher of Christ Church CE Primary School, expressed concern that some of her pupils may have little to no access to books at home. Emanuel School initiated an online book drive to help address this need, creating an Amazon wish-list through which members of the community could purchase books for the school’s pupils. 130 books were collected and delivered to Christ Church pupils, with their parents expressing how thrilled and grateful they were for the support.
The latest ongoing campaign sees the school partnering with Power to Connect: a new initiative, launched by Wandsworth Council and Battersea Power Station, to help local children and families maintain schooling and communication during the pandemic. It is vital that all children have a digital device for remote learning, yet many children from less financially-secure families are being left behind. Without access to a device, children are also isolated from their friendship groups with potential repercussions for ongoing mental health. To address this need, a call has been put out for old laptops and tablets, which volunteers with IT experience are wiping clean and repurposing to distribute to local schools. As part of the scheme, some of these digital devices are also being provided to St George’s Hospital in Tooting, allowing in-patients to stay in touch with loved ones during this difficult time.
As the Covid-19 pandemic continues, Emanuel School will continue to find ways to support the most vulnerable members of our community.
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