"We've been made ambassadors of ECIL and we're going to do more work with that charity"
For the team at Acton High School who were supporting Ealing Centre for Independent Living (ECIL), First Give truly was just the beginning of their giving journey. The programme was made possible because of the generosity of the Jack Petchey Foundation, which funds Acton High’s involvement in First Give. ECIL is an organisation that works to eliminate the barriers preventing disabled people and their unpaid carers from living full and independent lives.
ECIL describes how Omarrie, Amira, Tyrell, Joseph and Nahom made contact with their charity: “Two of our staff met with the class and told them what we do and how we do it. The students were sympathetic to our aims and were very enthusiastic.”
During the programme, the students representing ECIL fundraised by selling drinks to peers, organising a raffle, collecting unused items as prizes, and asked teachers and students for monetary donations. “We were trying to find the best ways to fundraise; we wanted to keep things simple.” It appears the group learnt time management skills and practicality because of First Give too! “We did fundraising non-stop basically. We've been pushing, pushing and pushing."
“We brought two charity representatives [Wendy and Lynne] to the School Final and that really motivated us to go and push more”
The team presented about ECIL at their First Give School Final, successfully convincing the judges that ECIL deserved the £1,000 grant. ECIL’s Wendy and Lynne cried with joy! Yet, after the programme their passion and motivation didn’t fizzle out.
Ms Briggs, the lead teacher responsible for running the First Give programme at Acton High School said: "They've given up their Monday of half term to go and present to the head office of the charity. It's been amazing, absolutely fantastic! They may also be getting involved with auditing around the local community, to help improve accessibility for disabled people - this may end up changing public transport options. The charity have even asked the group to make a YouTube channel for their younger disabled users!”
"The day before the Final we were practicing so much, we stayed up working till 7pm"
The team say they learnt “maturity, team work and discipline.” They did an excellent presentation on the night, with a video clip of an interview with one of their teachers whose father had had a temporary paralysis after a trip to Pakistan. Yet, it didn’t come easily for the team. ECIL noted “we were told by their teacher that the work they had done for this project was really ground-breaking for them.” The students admitted that they didn’t expect the programme to have such an impact. "Being 100% honest, we thought this project was a bit of a free ticket to get out of lesson. But when we did our research about ECIL and met Wendy, all of it inspired us massively, inspired us to do more."
"The impact First Give has had on these students’ lives; they will never forget it”
Ms Briggs noticed “a massive difference was the way in which they were interacting with staff. As a result of the project we've found they've got better relationships with the staff and they feel responsible for their learning. These kids became mature, they were compassionate, and they loved it!”
The relationship keeps growing. ECIL have invited the students to their Access and Inclusion Awards in July, where the students will present. “The Awards are going to be held to acknowledge the efforts people make to include disabled people and give them easy access to places, so we will include the students as winners in the inclusion area of the Awards.”
The other charities represented during the First Give programme at Acton High School were Home Start, Make a Wish, Acton Homeless Concern, Women and Girls' Network, Southall Black Sisters and Bollo Brook Youth Centre (Young Ealing). A massive £520.90 was raised for all the charities overall, on top of the £1,000 provided by First Give, plus 60 bags of essentials were gathered for the homeless over the Christmas period.
Well done to all at Acton High!
Want to find out more about ECIL? Take a look at their website by clicking here.