The Gift Of Giving

Social action is about the coming together of people with the aim to improve the well-being of their communities. It can involve various activities that make a positive difference to others in the form of volunteering, fundraising, community action or simply, performing neighbourly acts.

Knowing the benefits ‘acts of giving’ has on one’s mental, emotional and spiritual well-being, Grace Foundation wanted to provide an opportunity for students to practice one of our primary learning themes, Growing By Serving Others.

Our Revolution Manchester 2022 Residential did just this, and so much more.

“I learned that helping people makes everything feel a bit better” – Elizabeth Woodville School student

From 27-30 June 2022, 49 students and 16 staff from Rushden Academy, Grace Academy Coventry, Grace Academy Darlaston, and Elizabeth Woodville School traveled to Manchester for a 4-day social action residential. In partnership with Audacious Church Manchester, various projects across the city were allocated to us to tackle over the course of our stay. We spent our time clearing gardens, painting and redecorating homes in preparation for new community members to move in, partaking in Youth Group-led Games Nights, and a highlight of the trip – serving at the Audacious Homeless Banquet.

“Handing out food to those in need and seeing how many there were made me understand how lucky I am and how helping those people makes a big difference” – Grace Academy Darlaston student

“The most significant part of the trip was helping fix the mother and son’s house because they’ve probably been through a lot and if I was able to help just a little bit” – Rushden Academy student

Not only did we have the opportunity to share our time, curiosity, and efforts with the communities of Manchester, students themselves were significantly impacted through the process. Some students had never previously had the opportunity to travel outside of their hometowns. Thus, with future prospects heavily in the minds of our Year 10-12 students, we partly aimed to broaden the scope of ‘what if’ and ‘where’ in these developing thoughts of where life is going to take them.

As well as this, bringing students together from our different sites encouraged new social interactions and friendships to develop over the course of the trip. We have been so encouraged to see how these have impacted the social confidence of many of the students post-trip.

“I learnt that I can build friendships with different kinds of people” – Grace Academy Coventry student

“My social skills are better than I thought, I just need to trust myself!”

Positive feedback from our staff and students is one of our biggest motivators. It has been warming to receive feedback we have, from the community members of Manchester whose gardens and homes we worked in.

Team EWS were assigned a garden project for the two days of project work. The tenant suffers with long COVID, leaving him struggling for breath if he walks more than a few metres and he had previously been an avid gardener, but his ill health has rendered him unable to do any physical labour. As a result, his garden had become extremely unruly and sadly, resulted in an eviction notice.

Below is a message received by EWS from the man’s son, following the completion of the students’ hard work.

“Good afternoon. I just wanted to pass on my sincere thanks to yourselves and the youngsters who have helped my dad clear his back garden. I know my cousin brought the matter to your attention and she has also been helping him as have I when I’ve been able to but struggled due to living in Wigan, working and having a 3-year-old to tend to. It was so heart breaking to see the state of my dad’s house and outside areas and the fact he had clearly let it get on top of him to the point he fell into really bad depression. It took a lot of persuading from me and my family to finally convince him to let us all in to help. To see those photos of the work yourselves and the youngsters have done is absolutely overwhelming and I really can’t thank you enough for your efforts. Please pass on my personal thanks to all involved. This will certainly help my dad’s wellbeing and he will finally be able to have his grandson go to his address and play in his garden. He hasn’t been able to visit before until recently, so I know my dad seeing my son at his house undoubtedly makes him happy. Again, my sincere thanks to all of you.”

Grounded by Gratitude

We are so appreciative to the staff, external partnerships, sponsors and every other community member who made this opportunity the success it was. Better together is yet again proved by our staff and students. We look forward to see what Social Action Revolution 2023 holds… stay tuned!