Over 10,400 Hours of Volunteering Celebrated
Sixth Form Community

As the summer term drew to a close, Sixth Form students in the Boys’ and Girls’ Divisions gathered in the Arts Centre to celebrate their outstanding contribution to their local communities through volunteering and community action work. Year 12 volunteered for 10,498 hours between September 2022 and June 2023 and over 80% volunteer at least twice a week. Old Boy Andrew Jowett OBE (Class of 1980), the Chief Executive at Build It International, joined proud parents, staff and students for this special occasion.

In her welcome, Mrs Entwistle reminded everyone of Bolton School’s ethos of giving back and making a difference for good, and noted that volunteering offers students the opportunity to gain a broader understanding of the challenges and issues that others face, in addition to building important life skills and developing confidence. 184 Year 12 students this year received certificates, with 57 of those being Gold Awards for over 100 hours of voluntary work. The hours this year amount to a record-breaking value of £50,000.

Six students were then invited to share their wide-ranging volunteering experiences. Marcus Fung spoke about working in a Barnados charity shop and about tutoring younger chess players and arbiting competitions. Kashaf Ashraf talked about her volunteering at Bolton Hospice. Kevin Longthorne described working at a Covid vaccine centre and at a nursery, as well as refereeing youth rugby matches. Elliott Rigby spoke about voluntary work in School supporting drama productions and the fireworks evening, as well as being a Dance Assistant. Jayden Luhar talked about coaching hockey, doing paired reading and his work with youth group Creatives Now. Mariam Ali described being a youth leader at Beavers, helping to organise Tea at the Riley and working with Homeless Aid’s Street Kitchen. They all mentioned the many skills they had developed and the huge amount of benefit they had gained from volunteering, while simultaneously helping others.

These speeches were followed by the presentation of certificates to the exceptional students who gave their time this academic year.

Andrew Jowett then gave the evening’s keynote address. He began by looking back on his ‘wonderful’ time at Bolton School, recalling the sports and outdoor pursuits, in particular the trek camps, and the opportunities he had to lead younger boys in these activities. Through taking part, he developed inquisitiveness, confidence and leadership skills while also learning both to take responsibility and take risks. After leaving Bolton School, he went on to study Geography at Oxford University, where he became involved with a literacy programme for migrants.

Offering his first piece of advice for the evening, he encouraged students to follow his example as, despite pressure to get on the career ladder after university, he took his time to explore different things to find out what was the right fit. This led him, at 28, to a career in Central America, building water systems and schools with Save the Children. He then worked in East Africa for a time, before eventually founding Build It International in 2007.

Build It International is a charity which provides construction education to young people in Zambia and supports the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. 200 to 250 young men and women are enrolled in each practical six-month course, and the charity also works with employers to offer students and graduates work placements and job opportunities, supporting the trainees into work.

Andrew also explained how Build It International’s trainees help to solve problems, for example the charity works with Zambia’s Ministry of Education to build schools in communities where an upgrade is needed, providing facilities so that the government can then send trained teachers to the new school buildings. He said that in many cases, the siblings of the builders go on to attend these schools. He also shared impact studies that showed how, after each year, levels of poverty are reduced for Build It International trainees, showing the real difference that these practical courses are making in young people’s lives. Later in his talk, he shared the ‘1 Million Hands Up’ campaign that Build It International is currently running on social media.

Moving on to some reflections, Andrew reminded everyone that it’s okay to take time, find skills and interests and follow where they lead. He also recommended being genuinely interested in other people, and to see the bigger picture to recognise the importance and impact of what you are doing. He added that it is a privilege to volunteer, as ‘the pleasure is in the giver, not the receiver’: volunteering offers a huge amount back. As well as making an enormous difference to others, it develops confidence and gives opportunities to meet and make connections between a wide variety of people.

Finally, Andrew’s call to action was for the Sixth Formers to continue supporting their local community, wherever they end up, and to consider a career in the voluntary sector, as charities need talented people just as much as business and government. He congratulated the school, staff and especially the students on their achievements: ‘I’m really, really blown away, I’m so impressed.’

To bring the evening to a close, Mr Britton thanked Andrew for his affirming address. He too offered his thanks and congratulations to the gathered students, and their parents for their support, acknowledging that the small amount of ‘compulsory volunteering’ at Bolton School is a necessary push that allows so many students to go above and beyond when they find something they are good at and enjoy doing. He said that this evening was an opportunity to be ‘terrifically proud’ and that he is ‘enormously optimistic that students will leave prepared to make a difference for good.’

Flickr album: Community Action Celebration 2023 | Height: auto | Theme: Default | Skin: Default Skin


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