Hartlepool Sixth Form hosted a two-day volunteers fair to raise awareness of the challenges and poverty within Hartlepool and to enable students to make a difference in their local community.
The volunteers fair, which took place in November, attracted over 40 local businesses, organisations and charities including Hartlepower, Changing Futures NE, Let’s Connect, Social Prescribers, Hartlepool Borough Council, Food Cycle, Poolie Time and Friends of Hartlepool’s Wild Green Spaces.
During the fair, over 100 students expressed an interest in volunteering opportunities and a willingness to offer their skills and gain valuable work experience to become part of the wider community.
The successful event was organised in partnership with Hartlepool Action Lab, a collection of individuals, voluntary community groups and public sector agencies and led by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF), a charity aimed at solving poverty in the UK.
Rebecca Wilson, Placement Officer at Hartlepool Sixth Form, said:
“Our volunteering fair, the first of its kind at Hartlepool Sixth Form, has allowed us to strengthen our links within the local community. It has also enabled our students to have the opportunity to gain work experience, which they didn’t have due to the global pandemic, and support the areas that they are passionate about.”
Rebecca who also baked and sold cakes at the fair to raise vital funds for Alice House Hospice, added:
“We’re now looking to set up a digital platform to promote more volunteering opportunities to students and we’re hoping the fair will be an annual event.”
Jane Reed, Campus Principal at Hartlepool Sixth Form, said:
‘I’m extremely proud of our students who are supporting our local area through volunteering. Hartlepool Sixth Form is here to serve the community and we are actively involved in projects, particularly those that inspire social change and benefit the local community. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation and Hartlepool Action Lab do some wonderful work within Hartlepool and it’s a privilege to work in partnership with them to raise aspirations and inspire action. By collaborating together, we can make a difference to the people and organisations we are helping.
“It can be a life changing experience for our young people too and provides them with the opportunity to establish strong links within our local communities, develop new skills and take on a challenge while enriching the lives of others and making society a better place.”
JRF have been speaking to students during their personal development lessons at sixth form and offered them the opportunity to start their own social action project with funding from The National Lottery. Level 3 Children’s Play, Learning and Development students and A-Level students are looking to start up a homework club for children in the local area and parents will also able to access support on a variety of issues from JRF.
Darren Leighton, Communications and Connections Worker at JRF, said:
‘We have been so inspired by the students of Hartlepool Sixth Form during the planning and delivery of the volunteer fairs. As the leaders of tomorrow, it is important that we are able to harness and guide the students towards positive social actions to make Hartlepool the best it can be.
“Working together in this way ensures more people have access to the support they need, to develop their own tools and begin escaping the traps of poverty. Likewise, services and organisations being able to show the students how and where they are best able to achieve their dreams whilst also providing emotional anchors to Hartlepool, will help us to keep the skilled workers of tomorrow invested in the growth of our town. Volunteering and work experience will ensure that the students who give their time to organisations will be well equipped for a successful future.”
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