Along with all schools nationwide, St Paul’s has been forced to close its doors to all but a small number of pupils in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, but Paulines and their families, in addition to their duties as pupils, teachers and parents, have demonstrated great community spirit by volunteering their time and skills to help those who need it most in the midst of the crisis.
Approximately 100 Pauline families responded to a call from our partnerships team to join the Pauls4ll Pen Pals initiative. Participants write regularly to vulnerable and elderly people who are supported by our local charity partners, Castelnau Community Centre and FiSH Neighbourhood Care, as well as to local nursing home, Viera Gray House, in a move to combat loneliness and boost morale at this challenging time. Meanwhile, several parents and members of staff have been volunteering at City Harvest, another charity supported by the school, helping to feed the hungry across London. The Science and Engineering Departments have donated their stock of protective goggles to local hospitals in order to boost their stocks of personal protective equipment.
It has been encouraging to hear news of individual pupils who are working in their local communities, such as Nicolo in the Sixth Form, who has been delivering shopping and medication to vulnerable people in his local area, and Fifth Form pupil, Francesco, who is regularly volunteering with his local Red Cross. Lower Eighth Form pupil, Jacob, has been organising the delivery of several hundred masks and pairs of gloves for the workers at local care home, Viera Gray House.
Pupils have also been rallying around charitable campaigns, such as one, set up by an Old Pauline who has recently qualified as a doctor, to provide meals to hospital staff. Members of staff have also joined the efforts, volunteering their skills, including Miss Douglass, who has been sewing scrubs for hospital workers. J15 rowing coach, Mr Pradera, rowed 100km in a day at home to raise money to provide emergency meals for children in the UK who would usually receive free school meals. It is also important that our Old Pauline community feels supported at this time; members of the Development and Engagement team have been working to make phone calls to those members of the Old Pauline community who may be ‘shielding’.
As well as current pupils whose parents are key workers, the school has also hosted some pupils from other schools with key worker parents during the Easter break. The school is most grateful to those members of staff who volunteered to fulfil this provision during the school holidays. The children kept busy, creating crafts to display that express our thanks to key workers and provide a cheerful view for those passing by the school site.
The Partnership Team have been involved in efforts, along with St Paul’s Girls’ School and the Mercers’ Company, to support a number of local state schools in their move to online learning, offering expertise and resources including laptops for pupil premium students. Stuart Block, Director of Partnerships and Public Service, will be working with Heads of Department at St Paul’s in a move to link as many as possible with their equivalents at our partner schools, to share ideas, resources and best practice in virtual learning.
The school will also be looking to augment its bursary fund supported by the Shaping our Future campaign to support St Paul’s pupils whose families have been affected financially in the wake of the crisis and those looking to join us. As we enter the Summer Term, the Pauls4All Charity Committee look to launch a range of pupil-led fundraising opportunities, such as virtual quizzes, #StayAtHome physical challenges and more, starting with this Sunday’s 2.6 challenge. As the situation develops, our community’s response will too and we look to continue these good news stories on our social media feeds, do follow the school on Twitter and Instagram, as well as the Partnerships Twitter feed, to keep abreast of the latest news.