Pupils at Highfield Leadership Academy have been reaching out to vulnerable people in their community to provide comfort and friendship over the festive season.

Caring pupils have been taking part in activities and challenges to raise funds and spread kindness as part of their annual Festive Winter Gift Programme.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, pupils were unable to take part in many of their usual activities. But pupils and staff still found ways to make a difference.

Pupils and staff worked together to make a practical difference to people experiencing hardship in Blackpool by holding collections for food, hygiene products, warm clothes and gifts, and delivering hot meals to those most in need.

The school donated essential items to local charity StreetLife, a Blackpool based charity which helps vulnerable young people aged 16 – 25 and provides emergency shelter for those who are homeless.

Highfield also joined with other Star Academies schools to take part in ‘Food for All Week’. From 7th to 13th December, all 29 schools across the Star Academies multi-academy trust aimed to distribute 50,000 food parcels and meals to those experiencing food poverty.

Pupils filled the school with donations of tins and packets of food that were carefully packed into boxes ready for distribution to vulnerable people in Blackpool. The school also opened its kitchens so that pupils could prepare hot meals for the local charity, Amazing Graze. The freshly-cooked food was then distributed through the charity’s soup kitchens and will also be used to create street packs that will be given to local homeless people.

The emotional wellbeing of people in the community was also a key concern for pupils at the school. For the month of December, the school was a hive of activity, where pupils worked to create messages and gifts to show kindness to people who were struggling during the long winter months. Staff and pupils recorded special messages and Christmas Carols for community groups such as St Mary’s Church, Blackpool Society for the Blind and a local signing group.

Pupils created 100 ‘memory’ decorations for people who were mourning the loss of a loved one, masks that were sold to raise funds for families whose incomes were affected by the pandemic, and Christmas cards that were sent to residents in nursing homes, or people who were isolated and in need of friendship.

Charlotte Tabeart, former Head Girl at the school, met virtually with Year 7 pupils where she talked about the importance of Service and delivered a craft workshop. The decorations they created will be sent out to the local community.

Local charities will also be remembered by caring pupils who will be taking part in a sponsored Elf run for Trinity Hospice and Brian House. The charities were specially chosen by pupils who wanted to help them continue with their important work. A Christmas jumper day also helped to raise vital funds for Save the Children.

Andrew Galbraith, Principal at Highfield Leadership Academy, said: “Our Festive Winter Gift Programme is an opportunity for our pupils to get out and make a real difference to people living in our community.

“This year has been a year of challenge but, despite this, our pupils are continuing to shine brightly through their positive actions and desire to do good.

“We consider ourselves to be incredibly fortunate to be part of such a caring community, and we are grateful to everyone who has helped to support this year’s campaign.”