Pupils have a heightened awareness of those less fortunate than themselves, evident in altruistic fund raising and a commitment to charitable giving. ISI Report, January 2015
Part of the ethos of St Columba’s College and the Brothers of the Sacred Heart is a commitment to charitable giving and action.
Central to this is educating the whole community as to the differing social and economic circumstances in the world, and the means of supporting those in some way disadvantaged. In doing so, the College seeks to fulfil its aim of sharing “an experience of Christian community, in which all may grow in faith through worship, mutual support and by responding to the needs of the community at large.”
The intention is to both raise funds and awareness through active support of the College’s chosen charities. In this way, each student is expected to demonstrate “readiness to be of service to society,” in accordance with the key Columban quality of compassion and the College motto, Cor ad Cor Loquitur (‘Heart Speaking to Heart’).
It is important to note that greater priority and emphasis is reserved for established charities within the school, most notably Shitima School, St Francis School, Watling View and the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD). This focus creates a legacy and spirit of ownership. It also provides clear evidence of the commitment the College has to living out its charitable traditions.
- Sister Schools in Africa: St Columba’s supports and works in partnership with two schools in Zambia; Shitima in Kabwe, and St Francis in Malole. Parents support schools through a levy, paid as part of their fees. Each summer holiday, a group of about eighteen Sixth Form volunteers and staff members visit the schools and undertake various duties, including teaching and renovating the buildings. Groups of staff and parents visit Shitima School on a regular basis to conduct similar activities.
- Columban Fayre: A proportion of the money raised is retained in order to support the College’s adopted charities or to support appeals, brought about by exceptional circumstances. Outside charities are selected to run stalls at the Fayre itself.
- The Poppy Appeal: The College supports the Poppy Appeal, which takes place annually in November, not only to provide direct aid to members of the armed forces, but also to educate students about the country’s history as part of the pastoral programme. Students in Prep 6 and in Form 1 are given responsibility for the sale of poppies over the Remembrance Week.
- Exceptional Circumstances: St Columba’s College seeks to respond spontaneously to charitable causes and urgent appeals, as a matter of principle and human compassion. The School Ministry Team makes such decisions and devises the strategy for fundraising, campaigning and fundraising.
The Prep School aims to support local, national and international charities over the course of an academic year.
- Local: Every Michaelmas Term, the Prep School supports a local homeless charity via the Harvest collection. For the past few years, this has been the Open Door Charity, which is an emergency night shelter, operating in the St Albans area. The tutor programme specifically considers the issue of homelessness.
- Support for National Charities: As well as selling poppies for the Royal British Legion, the Prep School also offers support to such national causes as Macmillan Nurses or the Catholic Children Society in the Lent Term.
- International Support: There is ongoing support for Shitima House in Kabwe, Zambia, from the Prep School. Due to the special relationship forged between the two, there are often termly initiatives to raise funds and awareness.
- Houses: Individual Houses adopt a number of charitable initiatives. Heads of House nominate House charities at the start of each academic year. The emphasis of the work undertaken is to encourage student participation and provide an opportunity for younger students to develop leadership and event organisation skills.
- Sixth Form: Students in the Sixth Form participate in their House charity work, but also seek to identify initiatives that are relevant to their own age group. For instance, this may involve helping the homeless at Christmas or supporting men’s health as part of the Movember campaign. There is also a longstanding service programme in support of Watling View, a local school for students with learning difficulties.
- Dragons’ Apprentice Challenge: This scheme has been pioneered by St Columba’s since its inception. The focus is to link schools with local businesses and charitable organisations to benefit the charities though association and fundraising. Each team learns more about its charity’s work and devises a strategy with support from its appointed business partner. The students then seek to promote services and products to raise income.
- CAFOD: In recent years, the Senior School has worked closely with the Westminster Diocese branch of CAFOD (the Catholic Association for Overseas Development). The College has developed many successful, student-led projects.
CAFOD works with partners overseas and in the UK to reduce poverty and promote social justice. CAFOD works wherever the need is greatest, to bring hope, compassion and solidarity to poor communities, standing side by side with them to end poverty and injustice. CAFOD works with people of all faiths and none. Students learn about their projects as part of the pastoral programme, through visits by volunteers and through following campaigns.
Fundraising activities for CAFOD are wide-ranging, and have included a 40km cycle in Hertfordshire, penny boxes, lunchtime concerts in school, emergency appeals, bucket brigades in St Albans and other student initiatives. Awareness campaigns have ranged from the Syria Crisis to the ‘Hunger For Change’ Campaign, including lobbying politicians in Westminster.