The Community Action programme works on projects within the local community and the wider world. Local projects have included supporting the children’s ward at Gloucester Royal Hospital, helping adults with Learning Disabilities (Buddying), feeding the homeless, visiting nursing homes regularly to establish relationships with residents, assisting in a variety of charity shops and reading with asylum seekers who desperately need to learn English. Others have assisted in a local Primary School or our own Prep and Pre-prep Schools with swimming, dancing, reading and sports classes, and still others have helped the School manage its recycling, catalogue the theatre props department and assist the new Librarian in his re-organisation of the Library. Finally one group organises school fundraising events for a number of charitable causes, whilst another looks to raise money specifically for our link school in Uganda (see our Uganda section).
The following is a full list of all current Community Action activities and placements:
- Asylum Seekers
- Community Action Group (school fund-raising events)
- Charity Shops (Age Concern, Daisychain, Oxfam, PDSA, Red Cross Bookshop, Sue Ryder)
- Church help at St. Matthew’s
- Claudia’s Closet
- Dean Close Pre-Prep School (Classroom Assistant, Football, Music, Swimming)
- Dean Close Prep School (Drama, Music, Tennis)
- Drama Department helpers
- Elderly visiting
- Hop Skip Jump
- Hospital placements
- Library helpers
- Music Library helpers
- Naunton Park Primary School helpers
- Pied Piper Gloucester Hospital
- Riding for Disabled
- Soup Kitchen
- Tennis Coaching
In 2004 the School established a link with the Nyakatukura Memorial School in Uganda. The first visit took place that summer taking a donation of £6000 which had been raised by the Dean Close community. In 2005 the School went back, taking a newly formed Community Action Team along with a cricket team which played six matches during the tour. The trip was unique for Dean Close, which had never set out to such distant parts with such a range of objectives.
The second Community Action trip happened in July 2006 with 14 Sixth formers, two ODs and six member of staff taking another £5000 to the Ugandan School. During their time in Uganda, the team fixed computer systems and software, taught lessons and played with the younger children. The money was spent on furniture, walls, windows, a drainage system and a personal gift of an exercise book and pen for every pupil.
On a visit to Nyakatukura Memorial School visitors were shown around the boarders’ living and sleeping quarters. They consisted of thin sponge mattresses on the stone floor of classrooms. Students slept two to a mattress, and had no places for storage. It was hard for them to stay clean and tidy but they managed it better than most of us!
The following year the Community Action team made it a priority to purchase some triple-decker beds. The students cheered when they were delivered, and they were carried into the classrooms for assembly. Now the teenagers were able to have their own bed, with room for storage underneath. Their jubilation was about more than comfort: it was a living place; a tiny strip of space that was just theirs. However, we were still concerned about the need for proper dormitories with supervising staff to support and care for the students.
A huge fundraising push ensued. The tour treasurer, Rev Can Timothy Watson gave the war-cry: £15,000 for a new girls’ dorm in time for the 2009 summer Sixth form trip. The Uganda Fundraising Team headed by Kate Miller set to work. It was all hands on deck: the Removes took up Al Groom’s £10 challenge, raising money through dinner parties, car-washing, nail painting and a Commemoration photography booth. Cake sales, socials and donations from Dean Close individuals and families ensured we hit the target… a week before departure!
Cheers and shouts accompanied the deliveries of sand, cement, nails and timber as a big work-party of local labourers appeared on the scene at Nyakatukura to get building. Laura Mears had the privilege of praying with Annet in her Matron’s flat around which she proudly showed her. She will be the sole supervisory presence for both girls’ dormitories – around 140 girls! Last month the boarding house was officially opened by the Bishop of Ankole Diocese, Dr George Tibesigwa. We are reliably told that the girls are delighted to have such a ‘home’- complete with solar lighting (a novelty) and a spacious veranda, where they enjoy relaxing and studying, sheltered from the sun and rain.