Since news started to dominate the media of the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Afghanistan, the Marlborough Community has been keen to do something to help.
It was decided to focus our efforts on the Refugee Council, a UK based charity, and their work to support Afghan refugees in the UK. The UK government has committed to receiving 20,000 refugees and 8,000 have already arrived here, in many cases with absolutely nothing. The Refugee Council is working to provide them with direct support, aid and advice and wherever possible some level of warm welcome.
On Monday 20th September, on the invitation of the Master and Reverend Novis, we were delighted to welcome Mr Enver Solomon, CEO of Refugee Council, to talk at our year group assemblies, supported by the Charity Lead Team. The devastating impact of being a refugee cannot be underestimated so every gesture of welcome and practical support that we can give will make a real difference.
Our fundraising has got off to an excellent start, with generous collections taken at our Services of Confirmation and in the Chapel on Club Day. The Festival of Sport provided the opportunity for two charity initiatives which are to be applauded, a sock sale organised by recent OMs and a bake sale organised by the House Dames.
On Wednesday 13th October, pupils from the charity Think Tank and from the Christmas Hampers Outreach Team, alongside Reverend Novis, took on the ‘Flip-flop challenge walk’ from Court to the top of Granham Hill, home of the Marlborough White Horse – in recognition of the fact that many refugees have arrived into the UK’s near winter with nothing more than flip-flops to wear on their feet.
We are delighted to say that these amazing initiatives together have raised nearly £3,000.
As we approach half-term, our focus is on collecting much-needed supplies which will be delivered directly to refugee families in Stevenage on Friday 12th November by Reverend Novis, Gregor McSkimming, HM of Barton Hill, and some of his Sixth Form pupils. There is a desperate need for shoes and trainers, so pre-loved shoes that will clean up well would be gratefully received. Also, over the half-term break, we are hoping many in our College community will put together a ‘backpack care package’ containing the following items which can be brought to Chapel upon the return to school: nail clippers, socks, hats/gloves, stationery – pens and notebooks, body spray/deodorant, reusable water bottles, chocolate and shaving soap. We would also encourage the addition of a ‘Welcome to the UK letter’ which will be translated and read to the recipient.
Reverend Novis said: ‘It has been amazing to witness the breadth and depth of response to this appeal from across the Marlborough College community. The Chapel narthex is filling up with donations. My own father was a war refugee from Lithuania, so this cause touches me at a personal level and I’m so delighted that people understand the need to provide help.’
More fundraising activities are planned for the second half of term, including a charity run by the CCF and the donation of proceeds from the collections at the Christmas Lessons and Carols Services.
We have been humbled by how quickly the whole College community has come together in support of this charity appeal and by the generosity of spirit that has been shown. Should you wish to make a monetary donation, the College has set up a JustGiving page and we would be most grateful for donations of any size.