Service in the Community Programme

Partner: Service in the Community Programme
Partner type: Community Group
Project category: Volunteering

Every Monday during term time, around 30 boys are engaged in projects serving the wider Harrow community.

We have a group of boys who visit Thomas Hewlett House, the Sudbury Neighbourhood Centre, Mayfield Residential Home, and Manor Lodge. Thomas Hewlett House provides sheltered accommodation for the elderly, the Sudbury Neighbourhood Centre is a community-based charity running an adult day centre for older residents living in the Brent, Ealing and Harrow areas, and Mayfield Residential Home and Manor Lodge are nursing homes for the elderly. The boys help with a variety of tasks including organising social activities, providing music, serving teas, reminiscing and we have seen a few of the boys dancing – indeed one of the residents remarked that one of the boys “made her feel like she was on Strictly Come Dancing”.

Other boys go off in pairs to visit the housebound in the local area. The boys help with domestic chores, shopping, basic gardening and paperwork. One of the ladies that two boys visit recently wrote to say that she, “just wouldn’t be able to manage without the visits. The boys not only help with the odd jobs in the house, but they also put a smile on my face every week. You should be very proud of them.” 

We also provide three opportunities a year to get all of our beneficiaries together. We welcome them to the Hill in early December for Town Carols in Speech Room, in the spring we host a Sunday afternoon tea, and in the summer we take them on a riverboat cruise on the Thames. You know you’re onto something good when diaries are brought out at the end to confirm the date for the next event.

The team of masters who help supervise the various projects can confirm that they see a transformation in the boys. They are more outward looking, caring and considerate. It just goes to show that giving up time for others, especially if we are busy, is mutually rewarding.

Recent additions to the programme are: Foodbank (11 Harrovians have been helping to load donations and stocktake at Harrow Foodbank); Livability (a group of around 8 boys visit a local residential home for the disabled and adults who need support, to talk, play music and entertain) and Certitude (around 5 boys visit a residential centre for adults with learning difficulties, delivering a programme of practical work around and entertainment).

 

 

Aims of the project

 

To provide help for individuals and institutions in the neighbourhood of the Hill. However there is a dual purpose, the second and equally important part being an educational process for the boys concerned. These overriding principles led Community Service to grow and last year it moved under the umbrella of Shaftesbury Enterprise. 

Background and goals

Projects are established through recommendations and contacts of members of staff.

Resources

Around 6 staff and 30 boys. Transport to many of the locations.

Impact

When the boys go out on Monday afternoons, they are frequently asked – as people habitually ask on a Monday – how their weekend was. Yet the boys at Harrow do not have a usual weekend, rather their weekend is jam-packed with sporting fixtures, trips, school socials, house events, not to mention completing prep for the week ahead. So when it comes to Monday afternoon, one might not expect a teenage boy to be so keen and enthusiastic to give up their time at all, and more so for the service of others. However, this would do a great disservice to those boys who do, and time and time again we receive heartening feedback telling us how well they do it.

 

And we should not be surprised. Research confirms that volunteering is enormously valuable not only for the beneficiaries of volunteer projects, but also for the volunteers who generously donate their time and energy to these worthwhile projects. The NHS recommends volunteering as a healthy way to boost self-confidence, develop new skills, build new relationships and play an active role in one’s local community. We find that our boys get more out of volunteering than they put into it. Indeed many of our Fifth Form boys ask to continue volunteering when they are in the Sixth Form. One of the Lower Sixth boys commented that “volunteering gives me a sense of perspective and I just love the people I get to meet”. 

 

Pupil involvement

Around 30 pupils from Year 11 and above.

Frequency and duration

Weekly throughout the year with some weekends.