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What pupils have been up to in lockdown

Food bank collections

The coronavirus is a pandemic that has taken lives as it has affected livelihoods too. Food banks were already doing a key service with The Trussell Trust handing out food parcels to 1.6 million people in the 2018-2019 year. Now that many have been furloughed, and many without their employer paying the extra 20%, the food bank scheme is even more crucial than ever. Lockdown restrictions haven’t stopped food banks though, with their excellent volunteers helping them out to deliver food parcels to those who rely on them. 

One of those volunteers was one of our Removes, Harry Hawkesford. Harry helped by collecting food and produce and donating it to a food bank in Bromsgrove which is doing valuable work at providing food for those in the local area. To ensure this could be done safely with respect to social distancing rules, Harry dropped notes requesting donations through neighbours’ letterboxes urging them to leave contributions on their doorstep for him to collect. I spoke to the Head of Removes, Miss Sigston, who took inspiration from Harry and set up a food bank bag on her road on VE day and is taking her collection to her local Trussell Trust food bank.

It is important we too take inspiration from the benevolence of Harry and other collectors and volunteers, not only at this time but also when we resume our daily lives, and help out food banks which are providing such a crucial service. Ultimately, foodbanks are charitable institutions that rely upon the generosity of those like Harry whose actions will hopefully continue to have a ripple effect on those around him in the school community.

The Howards’ home PPE factory

One aspect of the pandemic I’m sure we are all familiar with is the urgent need for PPE for the NHS to protect healthcare workers and enable them to do such an important job. Three people who were very aware of this were Josh, James and Mr Howard, who decided to do something about it by making PPE. They did this by forming a sort of construction line where they each spent time doing different specific tasks, rotating jobs and spurring each other on for the three to four hours they spent working on this project each morning. 

Others playing a key role in the manufacture and distribution of this PPE were James Cleasby, Amelia Cleasby and Vaishali Senthil, who were integral in distributing the visors made to their local GP surgery, whilst our DT department’s own Mr Hartland and our chemistry technician Mr Downing helped to deliver them to local care homes, which are also in dire need of personal protective equipment. 

Josh credits his mum, who is a GP, as one of the inspiring factors for making the PPE. She was honest about the severity of the situation and how desperately PPE was needed, especially in care homes. In the end, the Howard team created an impressive total of 2,500 face shields which are being used by our heroic workers across Birmingham to save the lives of people who have fallen victim to the virus. A huge thank you goes out from all of us to the Howard family and their team for showing such initiative and compassion to dedicate their time to helping those who need it most during this tumultuous time.

Not only had Josh and James been busy making PPE over the period of lockdown they’d also volunteered to help out as receptionists at Eden Court Medical Practice in Castle Vale. They’d helped out at the practice previously but obviously in very different circumstances whilst there was less strain on the surgery. For five hours a day they helped behind the reception desk doing tasks such as answering the prescription line, handling prescription forms and issuing prescriptions, doing an important job in relieving the stress levels of both the surgery and the pharmacy. Along with this they helped to answer the questions of patients whilst also scheduling their appointments, and rescheduling the x-ray and ultrasound appointments of other patients, which had to be put on hold due to the extreme disruption caused by Covid-19. They also posted vulnerability letters to certain patients.

The Howards currently aren’t working at the surgery, as the staff members who were self-isolating or off have returned, but since they have received training they remain available in case any more staff are taken ill and can resume the important job they were doing. Volunteering at the practice without the backdrop of the corona crisis is a valiant enough feat but volunteering again in a place where they are more at risk of catching the virus and having the awareness of the situation surrounding them is especially notable. Having people in our society who step up to the plate and put others before them is something I’m sure everyone is appreciative of, and that some of those people are part of our school environment is something to be proud of.

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