Our Year 5 & 6 children have been doing some real courageous advocacy! After hearing that some people without settled status are getting charged for routine operations at hospitals including Lewisham, they decided to create some Christmas cards to the CEO Mr Travis with a strong message. The cards were then delivered by some of the children to the hospital with a naughty or nice bag. It is amazing to see our children campaigning for a more just and fair system for all.
Many families at St Mary's will have received a food bag over the past few months and more recently some families have received food vouchers to help with shopping costs. This has all been thanks to Reverend Charles - a long time supporter of St Mary's school and his new charity called Projectfivek, which aims to feed those families who might otherwise struggle to make ends meet. We are so grateful to Charles and his wife for their hard work and support of the families in our school this year. They really have made a difference!
"The vouchers have been very useful, they have helped to put food on many families’ tables. The food makes a real difference to families’ lives. We would like to thank Reverend Charles."
Parent of a child in Year 6
We are very proud of our children, parents and staff who continue to campaign and fight for equality and equal opportunity for all. St Mary’s continue to work closely with Citizens UK to ensure that our voice is heard and that we achieve real change. We have joined a new campaign, building on our previous success in enabling thousands of NRPF families to access Free School Meals:
Nobody should be left behind – not now, not ever! Time to end NRPF for good!
Covid-19 has shone a brighter light on the injustices that many migrants face. Many of our neighbours are unable to access government help because of where they were born, and the immigration papers they have. This is because of a government policy called No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) that denies people living and working in the UK crucial forms of support from the government. Without assistance like Universal Credit and housing benefit, many people – including 100,000 children – are feeling stranded and left without a safety net.
Thanks to the generosity of St. Mary's parish, Citizens UK are continuing to work at St. Mary's with both pupils and parents. Hannah from Lewisham Citizens came in to visit Years 5 and 6 to talk about what community campaigning is. To illustrate this she asked Mrs Tildesley to sit on a table. Then Hannah asked what the pupils felt strongly about and asked them to try and lift the table single-handedly as a symbol of trying to make a change. Of course no-one could lift Mrs Tildesley and the table single-handedly, but working together the pupils did achieve their task. Working together we can make a change!
Members of the School Council and some additional children from Year 5 were invited by Lewisham Homes to the site of the old Ladywell Leisure Centre to discuss what type of accommodation they might like to be built there. They learnt about the role of architects in these situations and using drawings, words and lego began creating their own visions of what the homes should look like.
The children came up with great ideas and creations including lots of outdoor spaces, dance areas and cafes. The children’s models will be part of the consultation programme currently taking place. It will be exciting to see what building is eventually created!
Congratulations to the Immigration Action Group!
St. Mary’s Immigration Action Group was recently given an award from South London Citizens for best local win of the year. This relates to the work which the parents have done to make Lewisham a more welcoming borough for migrants and newcomers.
After meeting with Councillor Kevin Bonavia the parents are now preparing some training for Lewisham staff who work in the No Recourse to Public Funds Team. Well done to all the parents for their work so far and all parents are welcome to join us at our next meeting as we need more help!
Citizens UK have been working with parents and pupils at St Mary’s on a number of issues including immigration and child citizenship fees. Hannah from Citizens UK came to help us conduct a quick survey about issues that affect families. Parents were asked to place a sticker on the issue that affects them the most. Whilst immigration and employment obtained some votes, housing was the clear winner with over 60 parents indicating that this is a big issue for them.
We will conduct a similar survey soon to find out exactly what housing issues may be affecting you so please do take part and have your say!
These surveys will help us form an idea of how best to support families in our community in the future.
The children and families at St Mary’s have been fully involved in this exciting inter-generational project. The school choir performed to a packed St Mary’s Church alongside a Generation Choir, an adult choir, a Recorder Orchestra and two other choirs from local schools in a spectacular concert, celebrating ageing and youth. Additionally, many children submitted pictures and writing about their families and what makes them so special. This was work was displayed in the Church as part of the Generation Project, you can see the work on the following website:
This year, Year 4 have been discussing the importance of looking after our environment and have begun to make our school community a more eco-friendly place. We introduced paper and card recycling boxes in every classroom and have been keeping up to date with any news about how the waste we produced is damaging our environment. We were really disappointed to see how much rubbish we noticed in the river on the way to our Swimming lessons each week and really wanted to do something about it!
So, we went down to Ladywell Fields and got geared up in special waders and gloves, ready to help the community by removing rubbish from the river. We filled up lots of heavy duty sacks with the rubbish we found. We found lots of plastic, a towel, a shoe, cans, bottles and many more! We felt really happy to be helping out make our green spaces more attractive for our community but the most important thing was that we helped reduce a tiny about of rubbish that would probably eventually end up in our oceans!
Who knew that cleaning up rubbish could be so fun!