On Wednesday 26th April, Clapton Girls’ Academy hosted a Refugees Welcome event to celebrate the academy’s recent fundraising efforts and to encourage key stakeholders in Hackney to do more for Syrian refugees.
As a school we have raised £6828.66, smashing our initial goal of £5,000. This will be used to rehome a Syrian refugee family in Hackney who will be arriving in July. This is through the government Community Sponsorship Programme.
The event was well attended by many members of the local community with speakers including Maurice Wren (Chief Executive at the Refugee Council), Revd Graham Stevenson (St Matthews Church, Roni Tabick (Masorti Synagogue) all of whom emphasised the need for compassion, empathy and openness as a community.
Caitlin Burbridge, Community Organiser for CitizensUK in Hackney said of the event;
“Hackney has a proud history of welcoming and integrating migrants and refugees from all over the world. The response to the Syrian Refugee crisis in Hackney has seen another amazing demonstration of people from different communities, backgrounds, and traditions coming together to do all they can to ensure Syrian families are resettled and welcomed in Hackney. The way the students at Clapton Girls’ Academy have got behind this issue is testament to their compassion, resilience, and leadership and we hope will inspire others to support the many important efforts to integrate migrants and refugees in Hackney from all over the world. There are many other brilliant charities working across Hackney to support people from different countries, and we hope that together we can continue to build a welcoming community of hope”.
A Syrian Refugee family who have recently been rehoused in Hackney thanked Hackney council and the British government for resettling them and for providing a place at school for their child.
The celebratory event was a culmination of the last two months of fundraising efforts lead by Year 12 students who inspired the whole school to get behind them as a team. Many CGA students from all year groups used non-uniform day back in March as an opportunity to donate. Stand out individual fundraising included Year 11 student Maddi Vass, who managed to raise an incredible £186 by organising a bake sale.
The biggest contributor to the campaign was CGA’s long serving partner Linklaters LLP, who pledged to donate and additional 20% of the total raised.
Ms Elaine Brown (Head of Government & Politics and in charge of Student Leadership programme at CGA.) said of the event:
“I am very proud and inspired by our whole school effort. It is a fantastic achievement which embodies our academy values of compassion, ambition, integrity and resilience.”
The idea for the campaign began as part of the Sixth Form enrichment offer at CGA. Back in February a group of Year 12 students decided that enough wasn’t being done for refugees in the borough and through the academy’s student leadership programme they started on a campaign to raise £5,000 to help resettle a family of Syrian refugees in Hackney. The students worked in association with CitizensUK to support Community Sponsorship – an official government scheme which enables communities to come together and welcome Syrian families.
To help visualise their target of £5000 the students built a LEGO house. Each donation they received was represented by a brick so that once their target was achieved, a complete house was built.
During the campaign the students spread awareness for their cause by organising assemblies, presentations and form activities within CGA and other schools in Hackney, Waltham Forest and Newham.
The students were also invited to TELCO’s (The East London Citizens Organisation) 20th anniversary assembly and had the opportunity to meet the Mayor of Hackney.
Safiyyah Patel, Year 12 student said:
“It was an amazing experience, we discussed how Hackney Citizens have helped us share our voice and come up with a plan to make a difference to the world.”
Students also had the opportunity to meet two of the Syrian Refugee families that have so far been housed in Hackney already with the help of Citizens UK.
Hafsah Mohammed, Year 12 student said of meeting the families:
“The atmosphere was so welcoming. It was great to find that the language barrier hadn’t stopped us from interacting through activities and food! We left with quite a lot to remember and treasure.”