Christmas cheer after a tough year

Christmas cheer after a tough year
Date18th Oct 2021AuthorJoseph DownesCategoriesStudent Life

As an incredibly difficult year was coming to a close in 2020, Shireen Razey and her husband, Graham Razey, came to the decision that they wanted to make Christmas a little more magical for the less fortunate children in South-East London and Kent.

Shireen, as Principal of Christ the King Sixth Forms (CTK) in London, and Graham, as CEO of the EKC Group of FE colleges in East Kent, noticed that the areas in which their sixth forms reside have a strikingly high level of deprivation. This was the catalyst that would eventually lead to the Christmas gift appeal as they mobilised efforts to help the local communities struggling against such hardships.

As the campaign was launched in December, we at CTK announced that there was to be the gift appeal itself, a GoFundMe campaign, and an art auction, with the proceeds going to three charities: St Vincent de Paul Society (which works globally against poverty), Refuge, and Demelza Hospice (a specialist children’s hospice local to the colleges).

After the call to action was sounded, Mrs. Razey was among many who were astounded by the support from both CTK staff and learners, as well as outside companies, stating, “Our CTK community has always been actively involved in social action but this appeal came at a time when staff and students were keen to show their support to local families following the COVID pandemic. We were overwhelmed by the response to our Christmas Appeal as the whole community came together to help those less fortunate. I am thankful to staff, students, local residents, parishes and local businesses that donated gifts.”

Once the campaign had finished, the colleges had raised a staggering £5,395 which was split equally between the three charities, along with 2,168 donated items. Metric Capital, who offer the learners of CTK the opportunity to win a £15,000 scholarship to support their journeys into higher education, also generously contributed £1,000 towards the GoFundMe goal, which ended up smashing its initial target of £1,000, finishing with a fantastic £4,337. The art auction equally drew in a great crowd and ended up raising £1,058.

The atmosphere once the campaign was over was one of jubilation and satisfaction as many were blown away by the support received from the local communities, as well as staff and students alike. Hope was also permeating through the air as many people agreed that it was great to do something so charitable during a very troubling time for the communities involved. A significant proportion of CTK students are currently in disadvantaged situations themselves and were searching for ways to give back to the communities they reside in; this appeal allowed all of them to achieve that goal.

The success of the Christmas gift appeal has further empowered the Christ the King community to continue to do all they can to aid the less fortunate and the communities they reside in.

Recently Christ the King organised a cake bake sale to raise money for MacMillan Cancer Support that went amazingly and raised an admirable £258.86 for the charity.

CTK also recently hosted an Environmental Conference that sought to raise awareness amongst staff surrounding a multitude of environmental issues. Many staff found this extremely interesting and useful, and pledged to change their habits for the better. Mrs Gillian Pointing, Head of Examinations, found the presentation surrounding various paperless strategies to be particularly useful; “It has given me many alternatives that we are excited to put into action to reduce our carbon footprint on the environment and the community,” she stated. Equally, Martin Carroll, Head of Admissions, praised the local ecology presentation, stating, “Learning about the local ecology existing in my community has really put into perspective how our actions have consequences. I have been looking into various ways I can help local organisations who champion this cause.”

Also returning to full force this year (after an unfortunate scaling-down last year due to the pandemic) is CTK’s ‘Acts of Charity’ day, where hundreds of students assist local charities and communities with various acts, including donating and volunteering at food banks, visiting care homes, and working in charity shops, among many others. It’s not only charities that benefit, but also the local communities, as ‘Acts of Charity’ day also includes community outreach offerings such as litter collection, working in primary schools, and encouraging businesses to join Lewisham’s water bottle refilling scheme.

Historically, ‘Acts of Charity’ day is tied with CTK’s motto, ‘Ut Vitam Habeant’ which translates to ‘That they may have life,’ and is important to the personal development of learners as well as being charitable. The Christmas gift appeal allowed these learners to experience this growth at an earlier and more tumultuous time for the disadvantaged people in their communities, and so its impact could be greater felt. Christ the King believes that this was very beneficial for learners who took part, as it expanded their knowledge of charitable acts and how they can further help those people who are less fortunate in the future.

Lastly, but equally excitingly, CTK and the EKC group are proud to announce that we will be running the Christmas gift appeal again this year (date to be confirmed). Graham and Shireen Razey were so impressed and overwhelmed with how well the previous one went that they have decided to run the event again this year. This year’s event will include the same line-up of funding streams as the previous year, but we are eager to raise more for the communities that have struggled so much during these tumultuous times. Here’s hoping we can beat last year’s record!

Joseph Downes is Marketing and Communications Manager at Christ the King Sixth Forms in London. Earlier this year, the college won the SFCA Community Impact Award for its work. This is the second in a series of blogs from the award winners explaining how they achieved their success.

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