Parliament Hill pupils drive change in the community

Parliament Hill pupils raised money and awareness of domestic abuse charity Tender

Parliament Hill pupils raised money and awareness of domestic abuse charity Tender - Credit: Parliament Hill School

Parliament Hill School pupils spent their summer term tackling issues close to their hearts -  knife crime, gang violence and domestic abuse.

Students at the Highgate Road secondary school have been taking part in a community action project with the charity First Give.

Led by First Give director Louisa Searle, the programme works in partnership with secondary schools across the UK to raise awareness and help tackle social issues in their local community.

Over eight weeks, 12- and 13-year-olds in Year 8 took part in a series of assemblies, lessons and workshops to inspire charitable and social action.

The programme helped students develop their public speaking and teamwork skills by delivering final presentations where they gave detailed talks about the work they have been doing to help their chosen charity.

Parliament Hill School’s winning team - Jennah, Avni, Trixie, Lucia, Georgia and Eloise - were awarded a £1,000 donation to their selected charity Tender after holding a protest outside the school. 

Launched in 2003,  Tender acts to end violence and abuse and works creatively with young people to engage them in the prevention of abuse, and the promotion of healthy, equal relationships.

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Avni said: “I was still in shock. It was really exhilarating because all of the work that we did paid off, not just showing others how the charity works, but also raising money and knowing that our action will make a difference."

She added: “One of the questions we asked students at our school was ‘do you feel safe walking home from school?’,  and 76 per cent of people who took part said they didn't feel safe if it was dark, or if they were alone. 

"Also 63pc said that they were not very sure they could identify toxic relationships, so I think that just underlines how important the issue is and how for people in our school, no matter how educated or secure they feel, they still have things they need to learn.”

Georgia said: "We had a protest outside which raised a lot of awareness and we had banners and a lot of cars honked to show support. 

"We had other bake sales and that kind of stuff to raise a bit of money, which was really successful as well.”

She said the group supported Tender because it uses "creative workshops in schools, giving children and young people the resources they need so that they can spot the early signs of a toxic relationship".

Jennah said: “It was a real relief after we won because of the hard work that went into putting everything together.”

Trixie added: “I think we were successful because when we were helping the problem, we didn't just do it for the money.

"We were trying to raise awareness."

Parliament Hill pupils won £1,000 for their project on domestic abuse charity Tender

Parliament Hill pupils won £1,000 for their project on domestic abuse charity Tender - Credit: Parliament Hill School

Eloise said the group set up a GoFundMe page, raising £500 for the charity.

"On our GoFundMe page, we didn't just say, ‘we're raising money for this charity Tender’, we had an explanation about what Tender was, so people would be giving us money for the charity and they would know what it was they would be giving money for and a good cause.”

Lead teacher Marie Brogan added: “I have three Year 8 classes and you have to just let them do it and try not to micro-manage. 

"The whole time I was thinking ‘I hope this all comes together’ and then when you get to that final, and you have so many groups that have just learned how to work independently, learned how to work as a team – and that's not an easy skill to learn – I'm so proud of all the students involved because I know how hard they worked."

She added: “It was the creativity with the demonstration outside of school, it was so original and unique. 

"The research element they did - no other groups had done that kind of research within the school to that level. 

"They did things I never imagined they would do and that's what I think is amazing about the First Give programme. 

"If you just give students the opportunity to show what they can do, instead of telling them what they're going to be, and take that leap of faith - you're going to end up being so proud.”