Volunteer pupils have been recognised for their work helping the town’s older people to become more internet savvy.

The school’s Highfield Helpers silver surfer volunteers received special recognition in the Young Learners Award category at the Blackpool Coastal Housing Community Awards. The awards celebrate the achievements of the young people who through volunteering have made a difference to the lives of Blackpool Coastal Housing residents. The awards dinner took place at The Imperial Hotel Blackpool.

For 12 months, the pupils have run inter-generational IT sessions for Blackpool Coastal Housing’s elderly and vulnerable residents in conjunction with Blackpool and Fylde College. The project aims to help them boost their confidence when going online and help to overcome social isolation.

Thanks to the project, the pupils are also developing a strong social conscience and making a difference to the lives of others whilst improving their own communication and leadership skills.

Pupil Tyler Thompson, a member of the Highfield Helpers silver surfers volunteers, said:

“It was a great evening; my mum and I really enjoyed it. We have made our own little community and I feel much more confident about making a positive difference to Blackpool.  We really appreciate the opportunity Blackpool Coastal Housing and Blackpool and the Fylde College has given us.”

Maria Preda, also a Highfield Helper, said:

“Our team is proud to be making a difference.  We all enjoyed the evening and we all wanted to take the trophy home. It was also fantastic to see some of the clients we work with being nominated for and winning awards.”

Pupil Keira Wilkie, who has also worked on the project, said:

“We had a fantastic time at the Awards Evening. It was great to celebrate with our families.  We all wanted to take the trophy home, we are so proud that our work has been celebrated and can’t wait to start the next part of the project.”

Pupil Isabell Scott added:

“I had a brilliant evening. I am proud to receive this award and I was so happy that some of our Silver Surfers were nominated for and received awards too.”

Principal Andrew Galbraith said:

“We are so proud of our pupils. Over the last year, they have selflessly volunteered to support members of their local community.  Not only have they helped to develop the group’s ICT skills but have also forged great friendships across the generations.  It is a privilege to witness the compassion and care these young people display week after week and we can see the impact this project is having.

“Residents who rarely leave their sheltered accommodation now come to join us at our community events. Of course, it is important not to forget that our young people have also benefited from this venture as they receive some good life advice from the residents and the staff from BCH and Blackpool and the Fylde College have helped to develop our pupils’ communication and leadership skills, as well strengthen their ability to work as a team.”

Caroline Lamprey, Community Involvement and Communications Manager for Blackpool Coastal Housing, said:

“Just under 12 months ago we were approached by the academy to ask if their pupils could help us in achieving our aim of inspiring people to build better communities. The outcome was a series of inter-generational IT sessions delivered by Blackpool and the Fylde College and supported by the young leaders.  The young leaders have been providing invaluable support to some of our elderly and more vulnerable residents to help boost confidence when going online. The young people from Highfield Leadership Academy have provided such a fantastic outlet for our residents who all very much look forward to attending each week. They have shown fantastic work and leadership skills and we look forward to the next phase of the project which will see course leader, Emma Inglis, enable the young leaders to plan workshops as well as acting as facilitators.”

Emma Inglis, Programme Leader English at Seasiders Learning Centre, Blackpool and the Fylde College, said:

“The inter-generational ICT sessions have been a great success and the students from the school have been a great help with the local residents.  Each week the students have given the residents the opportunity to gain new skills, they have been working closely to help teach the residents skills needed to do different tasks using a computer. The work they have done has shown how well they can work with others. They are an asset to the school and the provision.”

PUPILS from Highfield Leadership Academy have won a community award for their work helping elderly people combat social isolation