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The staff and pupils at St Philip Howard Catholic Primary School, Hatfield, have received a Diocese of Westminster Social Action Award for their work setting up a foodbank during the COVID-19 pandemic. At a virtual awards ceremony hosted by Caritas Volunteer Service on 2nd June, the school community was recognised as the winner of the Primary School Social Outreach Award. Thirty individuals and groups were nominated across the five award categories. As well as recognising the five winners, the ceremony was a celebration of all the nominees and all volunteers in the diocese.

The foodbank, which can be found in the entrance to the school and is open every weekday from 7am to 7pm, also provides school uniforms and books. A local women’s rugby club has donated hygiene products with the aim of ending period poverty. The permanent presence of the foodbank at the school helps staff and students to remember that not all the children have their basic needs met, enabling them to focus on what is important as a community.

Before Christmas, as part of a letter writing session in class, a child wrote to Santa asking that, as she had tried to be much better this year, could she get a present? It was discovered that her mother lives with 'no recourse to public funds', which means she receives no government support and can barely afford the essentials, let alone Christmas presents. Combined with support from external charities, the school community stepped up and were able to provide Christmas presents for 70 children and ensure that those who needed to could do their Christmas 'shopping' at the foodbank. The same mother said that she felt the school foodbank gave her dignity, as she could choose what she wanted to feed her family.

Mairead Waugh, Headteacher at St Philip Howard Catholic Primary School, said:

'Working together to provide the foodbank has strengthened our community as a whole, as we work towards equality.

'On behalf of St Philip Howard School community, thank you for recognising our hard work. We are delighted to be able to play a part in supporting those in need and helping our pupils to understand their part in helping to create a fairer and more just society.'