Young people from St Michael’s CE High School in Chorley have been recognised by the DofE for their contribution to social action and volunteering during Covid. At a time when the nation was asked to stay at home, isolate and distance themselves from others, these young people went above and beyond, using the time to develop themselves even further. 117 hours of volunteering hours were undertaken along with 91 hours of skill activities and 143 hours of physical activity.
St Michael’s have a strong social action and volunteering programme built into their curriculum. The Year 9 Curriculum Enrichment Programme is an innovative series of lessons aimed at encouraging their young people to make a difference in their community. An emphasis is placed on the importance of young people building connections with community organisations and charities within their local community and donating volunteering hours to build up employability and life skills including teamwork, cohesion, communication, and leadership.
Voluntary work, community service, environmental projects, charity work and aspects of work experience all play a pivotal part in the new programme. The young people get a chance to learn about ‘life outside school’ whilst reflecting on the school’s strong Christian values of stewardship, compassion, humility and service.
Pupils take part in eight different activities for five weeks each. They become strong self-managers as they must check which activity is happening each week and come prepared with correct resources and equipment. Activities include Root & Branch, making media, cook stitch & pitch and compassion kitchen. Pupils experience the workplace as they work alongside Chorley in Bloom, Cuerdan Valley Park, Tesco Chorley, Highgrove House Residential Home and the Open Kitchen at Chorley United Reformed Church. Employer encounters are enhanced further as they have interactive sessions with staff from the DWP and Santander.
These inspiring activities are in place to encourage young people to take action whilst becoming advocates for social action and volunteering.
The programme has strong links to Duke of Edinburgh and all activities count towards the Bronze Award. All pupils in Year 9 are automatically enrolled on the programme and by the end of the year they will have completed all the award except for the expedition. The school has strong links with National Citizen Service and recommends all pupils take part in the programme and use the residential aspect of the programme towards their award.
Social action and volunteering is becoming widely recognised as an important part of curriculum within Lancashire schools. Upholland in Skelmersdale recently delivered a whole school Character and Culture day with a focus on the pathways into the voluntary and third sector and paid jobs.
In the post-Covid recovery the importance of social action, volunteering and giving back to the community cannot be underestimated and is fantastic to see the schools and young people of Lancashire taking action.