On 30 June an unprecedented number of students and staff from Seaford College in Petworth surged out into the local community to help a variety of environmental and social causes. More than 500 students and staff took part in Seaford’s fourth annual community action day, known as the Big Day Out, at over 40 different locations in Sussex and Hampshire.
Headmaster John Green, who created the initiative, said: “The main idea is to make a positive difference to the surrounding community. Due to the success of our annual action day, Wednesday afternoons are now blocked out in the timetable for weekly community events. Our students are extremely fortunate to study and live in such a beautiful part of the country – it is only right that they put something back.”
Students and staff assisted with a range of social projects, including visiting the Aldingbourne Country Centre, a trust dedicated to helping those with learning disabilities reach their potential and enjoy life, to assist with a variety of different tasks. Pupils and Headmaster John Green helped to clean out a storeroom at the Chichester-based homeless charity Stonepillow.
Houseparent Matthew Pitteway was also part of the visit to Stonepillow and he now plans to take a group of boarders each week to support the charity on an ongoing basis. He said: “There is so much we can do to help them and we all got a great sense of achievement out of the day. You really feel you are making a difference. It is a big task keeping on top of the storeroom. We unpacked donations, checked the food was in date and then we put a clear best-before label on them before putting them away. We also sorted through the existing donations in the stockroom to check dates and organise the tins and packets. The students are keen to go back and help. The group worked really hard and achieved a lot in the day.”
Volunteers from Seaford College and the Hyde Group also lent a helping hand to residents at the Whyke Estate in Chichester. They tackled jobs including cleaning windows, washing cars, clearing gardens and picking up litter. One resident said: “There are lots of people in need on the estate and projects like this can help them get on top of things. I just want to say thank you to Hyde and Seaford College for their help.”
Seaford pupils also visited local schools – Oakwood in Chichester, Conifers in Easebourne, and St Peter’s in Shoreham – to lead activities with pupils. Seaford sports teacher Lauren Bryant visited St Peter’s with four students to help with a range of numeracy and literacy activities, and St Peter’s Headmistress Kate Crees said: “This is the second year St Peter’s has taken part in the day and once again the pupils here really enjoyed interacting with the Seaford students. I’d like to thank Lauren and the girls from Seaford, and we very much hope to be included again next year.” Lauren added: “The girls were really excited to be helping out at a school.”
Elsewhere, students undertook the very important task of beach clearing and at the end of the day Georgie Sims, Seaford’s Head of Netball, said: “The beaches are officially clean at East Wittering, Bracklesham Bay and Selsey!” Two separate groups of Seaford pupils spent the day in Graffham. One cleaned the war memorial and park benches, while another cleared a blocked ditch, drain and culvert, with assistance from parish councillor Sarah Lydiard-Wilson, who was very happy with the standard of work. At the Treasure Box Nursery in Bognor Regis Seaford students helped out with a number of tasks, including staining a fence. The head of Treasure Box Nursery, Kim Doherty, said: “The pupils from Seaford College have been an invaluable help over the past few years.”
Diana Strange, Seaford’s Director of Care and Welfare took students to Duncton and said: “The students were fantastic”. “They cleared, cleaned and painted Duncton’s recreation ground and bus shelters. Two pupils also cleared and removed brambles and molehills.”
Other new projects for 2016 included ground clearance at Coultershaw Beam Pump, planting at Tuppenny Barn, and cleaning the former kitchens at Stansted House. Amelia Allen, Anya Ormrod Davis and Lennie Cooper had a fantastic day giving the dogs a lot of exercise and love at the Clym-ping Animal Sanctuary.
Community Coordinator Clive Thorpe, who organised the day, said: “It’s really important that our students realise just how lucky they are. It’s great for them to get out and see that people are not as fortunate as themselves and it is good for them to discover skills they didn’t know they had.
“Looking forward, Seaford College is always open to new partnerships. If anybody would like to be considered for next year’s event, please contact me at email@example.com.”