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Whether we are making a gift of ‘time, talent or treasure’, we all know it is as rewarding to give as to receive, and it is also human nature to feel good about helping someone out.

By volunteering we can all contribute to our community, whatever our financial situation. We volunteer not because it benefits us, but because it makes a difference. The estimated value of volunteers helping UK charities is £22.6bn per year – a commitment that would be impossible to replace from publicly funded sources. Volunteering can help you gain valuable new skills and experiences, boost your confidence and even help you feel happier and healthier. It is a virtuous circle that is encouraged at The Leys, and we are proud of pupils, teachers and staff who dedicate so much time and effort to helping others.

Pupil Volunteering In The Time Of Covid

During the Covid-19 pandemic, pupils at The Leys found that their usual volunteering activities were no longer possible, including those who were committed to volunteering as part of their Duke of Edinburgh award. Instead, throughout 2020 and 2021 and into 2022 they found ways to continue to contribute despite the restrictions in place, including teaching the elderly to make video calls to stay in contact with family and friends, and collecting gifts for Christmas presents for local children.

Sixth former Matt started a pen pal scheme between pupils at The Leys and elderly people in lockdown. He told us how friends had been made through the “Letters from Lockdown” initiative, as pen pals told stories about their lives, reminisced about places they had visited, and shared their apprehension about the lockdown and future under Covid. One pupil was particularly impressed to be exchanging letters with John, who created stained glass in his spare time!

Sixth former Alex continued to volunteer with the Arthur Rank Hospice, fundraising by baking cakes and promoting the work of the charity among a younger generation. Meanwhile, it was environmental concerns that moved Victoria (Upper Sixth) to start making and selling jewellery, with 50% of the proceeds donated to the WWF, WorldWide Fund for Nature. Inspired by David Attenborough and WWF’s work helping local communities conserve natural resources and protect against habitat loss, Victoria has used an online platform to promote and sell her pieces.

The New Normal

The beginning of the academic year 2022/23 was the first time since the start of the pandemic that we saw a return to the full range of wider curricular and partnership activity without any Covid restrictions. This has included re-establishing our local primary school initiatives, particularly for sport and drama.

Having fun with Mr Shakespeare

The Leys partnership with Great Abington Community Primary School received a boost in the autumn term with the recommencement of the Shakespeare drama workshops led by The Leys Performance Director, Mrs Pulman-Jones. This year she was ably assisted by Upper Sixth pupil Laura N, who attended the workshops and the performance as part of The Leys Personal Development and Leadership Programme, supporting both Mrs Pulman-Jones and the children.

The pair ran three drama workshops for the Year 6’s on 11 & 25 November and 2 December, which culminated in a performance to the School and their parents. This was a wonderful way for this year group to be introduced to Romeo and Juliet exploring plot, character and language through drama.

Volunteering at The Leys

The workshops began with an exploration of the potential of body and voice, overcoming self-consciousness and building confidence, all designed around the context of play and creative exercises. Week two delved into storytelling and the language of Shakespeare utilising performance, voice and speech techniques. Using all the skills they had learned over the previous weeks, the final workshop developed into an eight-minute performance piece of Romeo and Juliet.

Having fun with Mr Shakespeare

Mr Guy Underwood, Headmaster of Great Abington Primary School, gave a glowing testimonial on how much the pupils gained from the experience, with both the enrichment of their learning and the many skills they have developed through the process.

Several of the parents waited behind to extend their thanks to Mrs Pulman-Jones and Laura for giving their children this opportunity, and to say how much they enjoyed seeing them so engaged with Shakespeare. This included the mother of a boy who participated, and particularly struggles with SEN. She was full of praise and gratitude, saying that he had been really inspired by the sessions.

The drama experience concluded with the Great Abington pupils enjoying the end of term School performance of A Christmas Carol. Hosted by Laura N, all 20 participating pupils and 3 staff were in attendance to see the production. They were particularly pleased to see former Great Abington pupil Alex K, who took on the role of Tiny Tim!

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