30 July 2018
Mr Barry Dixon, Deputy Lieutenant of Greater Manchester, has commended the Bolton School Community Action plan and the great breadth of volunteering that students commit to each year. Mr Dixon, who gave the keynote presentation at this year’s Community Action Awards Evening at the school, referenced his first-hand knowledge of the School, relating how he was involved in the assessment of its recent successful bid to gain the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service (QAVS). Whereas in many other schools volunteering is ad hoc, he said: “This is the first time I’ve seen such a well thought through and structured programme that engages young people and allows them to undertake volunteering on so many different levels. Again, listening to young people tonight, I have been blown away by the assortment of volunteering activities.” He told how, from his experience, volunteering provides two things – a service to those that require it and also an opportunity for people to develop a range of skills, including their communication and organisation capabilities whilst becoming more rounded individuals.
Year 12 pupils across both Divisions of Bolton School were celebrating their work in the community as an audience of parents, teachers, governors and representatives from partner organisations watched them pick up bronze, silver and gold certificates for undertaking more than 20, 50 or 100 hours of volunteering. Several pupils achieved double the Gold Award by undertaking more than 200 hours of service.
Individual students told their volunteering stories which encompassed a range of activities, including work in hospices and care homes, in charity shops and food banks, at Bolton Lads and Girls’ Club, coaching sports teams, helping with the School’s SHINE programme on Saturday morning, mentoring younger pupils and with helping with Brownies, Guides and local Scout troops. They spoke of the friendships they had developed, the new life skills gained and the enormous sense of wellbeing that it gave them.
Jessica Hindley said of her experience volunteering at The Bridge at Leigh Community Café and Food Market: “Although I initially started at The Bridge to complete my Duke of Edinburgh Award, my time there has helped with much more. I developed customer service skills, learned how to use a till and most importantly I feel that I have genuinely helped my local community.”
Joss Winstanley said: “Whilst the impacts you may make may seem small to you, to those who need it and benefit from it, they can be far greater than you can imagine. School has always encouraged us to take part in volunteering from an early age, as it is seen by universities and employers and something that sets us apart from everyone else. … Discipline, reliability, communication are all examples of skills which I have developed through my time coaching, refereeing and helping out during school events.”
Matthew Schaffel, who volunteered at Bolton Lads and Girls Club, said: “For me, this is more than just another conversation starter at an interview or another line on my CV. It is a truly rewarding and satisfying experience, which gives a sense of truly being part of something special that makes a difference to people’s lives.”
Nicola Li, who this year has volunteered over 240 hours with organisations such as Bolton Hospice, Samaritans, Urban Outreach and in School, said: “I would like to say a huge thank you to the various organisations and charities that have allowed us to volunteer and experience such a wide variety of skills, to help us grow and build teamwork and resilience. Thank you for the hard work and effort you put into every day, and we hope to carry on helping you in any way possible.”
Mrs Entwistle, Head of Community Action, compered the evening and told how Year 12 students had, once again, committed over 9,500 hours of their time to volunteering, which amounted to over five years’ full-time work. She also told how other year groups at Bolton School, from Nursery to Sixth Form, regularly help out and assist in the local community as a matter of course. There was a farewell round of applause for Mr Howard who, for the past few years, had been responsible for coordinating the boys’ volunteering.
After the event, guests enjoyed drinks and cakes and inspected the range of QAVS memorabilia that the School holds.