In September Our Lady’s Catholic High School in Hackney formally teamed up with Caritas Westminster to help promote and develop their new Ambassadors Scheme. Caritas launched the project in September 2017 and with the support of Our Lady’s is exploring the potential ways to increase youth engagement at parish level in the Diocese of Westminster. At Our Lady’s, Sixth Form Religious education involves the exploration of the Christian belief that faith cannot exist without the implementation of the Gospel. The RE Department at the schools has therefore been developing a dynamic approach that offers community service underpinned by Servite Values as an integral part of the programme.
As part of this, the Caritas Ambassadors have found about the various aspects of Caritas’ work in their community and have connected with a local parish, St Francis de Sales in Tottenham, where they baked for the night shelter held there.
Caritas Volunteer Coodinator Verity Sykes said:
‘It was great to see the ambassadors’ passion for volunteering and making a difference in their community, and inspiring to see how well they represent the spirit of Caritas through the work they are doing. This pilot scheme has been a real success so far, and we look forward to working with more Caritas Ambassadors in the future.’
One of the students, Jackie Yeboah commented: ‘I couldn’t have imagined that this experience would have had such an impact on myself and the people we support. It’s quite awe inspiring’.
As well as working with Caritas OLH sixth formers have also been supporting other community projects. For the third year running, Stamford Hill Morrisons plc have provided flowers and floristry training for Sixth Form teams. This enables students to go into care homes and sheltered accommodation across Hackney and Haringey, working with residents to create floral arrangements. The school now has 20 trained students who continue to build compassionate intergenerational relationships.
The school is also trying to become one of the first dementia friendly schools in Hackney. The SCS programme involves working with the T3 Ping Pong Foundation to induct students in the many health benefits of playing this game with people living with early-onset dementia. A team of 8 students received specialist training to be able to facilitate 50 minute sessions in care homes.