25.06.2024 Educator Insights Student Success Story

It takes a village

Springwest Academy students donate over 1,000 preloved items to Little Village baby bank network

First Give offers young people an opportunity to connect with and support local charities in their work to tackle important social issues. On the First Give core programme, students identify social issues that they feel passionate about, connecting with local charities working to tackle these issues, and carrying out creative and ambitious social action projects along the way.  

Springwest Academy in Feltham is currently in its fourth year of running the First Give core programme. As part of the programme in the 2022-2023 academic year, one group of Year 9 students chose to support Little Village, raising awareness for the baby bank network with a powerful and emotive Final presentation delivered to the entire year group. The students were keen to continue to support the charity further, which led to students across the whole school carrying out even more social action this year in support of a cause that remains important to them.  

Little Village is a charity which runs a baby bank network across London, providing families with essential preloved items from their hubs in Camden, Wandsworth, Brent, Hackney, and Hounslow. The students’ passionate presentation in support of Little Village resonated with and inspired others in the school community, including Assistant Principal Charlotte Tibbs, who has been moved to work with students across the whole school to provide the charity with ongoing, dedicated support.  

I found the presentation [last year] compelling, and spoke to the students afterwards about making it a whole school charity and what we could do, and they were really excited. We agreed to do a donation drive, and we did some launch assemblies to tell the story of the charity.  

Charlotte Tibbs- Assistant Principal at Springwest Academy

1,000 preloved items in time for Christmas 

Following this, the school set themselves an ambitious target to donate and sort through 1,000 preloved items in time for Christmas to support families in need. “I really liked the idea for our students that they’d donate something that they already had,” says Charlotte.  

Students within the school community demonstrated the act of giving as something beyond what can be contributed financially, and were also encouraged to donate their time and skills as well as preloved items that they no longer needed at home. By broadening what ‘giving’ really means, the donation drive was accessible to the whole school community.

I wanted the students to think about the fact that you can still do good in the world even if you feel you don’t necessarily have a lot of money to give at the moment.

Charlotte Tibbs- Assistant Principal at Springwest Academy

Once the items were donated, Year 9 students held a sorting session on their autumn term Character Day, which forms part of the character education programme at Springwest Academy. Preloved items were quality checked and sorted into categories, saving time for volunteers at Little Village. “The students had a meeting with Little Village where they taught the students how to do the sorting, and were very clear that if it’s not something you’d want to receive yourself, it can’t be passed on.” Charlotte says, “The students were very committed, and wanted to do it well.” 

We spoke to Xannie Cater, Community Fundraising and Marketing Manager at Little Village, who praised the students for their efforts to support families in need. “It really brings to life what we do. If you’re physically going through the items and thinking about the family that are going to receive them, it resonates much more.”    

“It’s not just about donating any old thing,” says Xannie. “They need to be of great quality, and feel like a gift to receive.” 

By November, students had collected, sorted and packed over 1,000 items for Little Village. “It’s the perfect way to do a meaningful thing for charity without anyone having to invest a lot of money,” Charlotte tells us. “Lots of the students, even those who couldn’t bring donations in, gave many offers to help, and we gave lots of students Civic Virtues badges for their work”.  

Little Village rely on support from the local community, and value opportunities to work with schools and young people.

It’s really lovely that there’s a way for secondary school students to support us through the First Give programme

Xannie Carter-Community Fundraising and Marketing Manager at Little Village

Xannie tells us. “I’m always really happy to chat with any students who might want to support us. Students can even come and volunteer with us as well, as we do offer volunteering opportunities for young people.” 

To find out more about Little Village, and for opportunities to support their work, visit the website linked here

What’s next at Springwest? 

“First Give has really inspired us to do more,” says Charlotte. We’ve seen what our students can do, and it’s inspired us to have a whole school project on top of that.” 

After the success of the donation drive, Charlotte tells us that the school hopes to be able to run a similar collection again next year, continuing the school’s relationship with an organisation that remains close to students’ hearts. We look forward to seeing what inspiring action the students at Springwest Academy carry out to continue their support for Little Village into the future!