18th November 2019 — Portsmouth High School’s Head Girl team and Sixth Form launched their week-long Charity Week this morning with a whole-school Fancy Dress Parade.
The Head Girl team, led by Head Girl, Chloe Wildsmith, 18, are supporting a local Hampshire-based charity, The Society of St James, which has been running for 47 years. Since then it has grown in size from one church hall which could accommodate 11 people to a large number of shared houses, hostels and day and night shelter services throughout the county. The society provides a range of support in Portsmouth, Southampton and the wider Hampshire-area to people experiencing multiple and complex issues including homelessness, substance misuse, mental health and offending issues.
‘We decided that we wanted to support a local homelessness charity because it is such a large issue across the UK and is particularly prominent in Portsmouth,’ said Head Girl, Chloe.
‘Deputy Head Girl, Mabel and I (along with our mums) took part in the annual Society of St James sponsored sleep out last Friday. It was cold wet and uncomfortable, but we were lucky to come home to a warm house and a warm bath unlike people who are actually homeless. I think this experience was a real eye opener and will help motivate us through charity week as we will remember what the money we raise is aiming to tackle.
‘In November 2018 it was estimated that there are at least 320,000 people who are homeless in the UK however this number is likely to be higher as there are thousands of people described as the ‘hidden homeless’, people who are not on the streets but have no actual home.’
The girls spearhead fundraising activities throughout the year to generate money and raise awareness of the charity and the fundraising culminates in Charity Week every November.
Charity Week at Portsmouth High School has been running for over 25 years and is always organised entirely by the Sixth Form. The week is made up of talent shows, live music events, an annual netball match versus boys from Portsmouth Grammar School and other events. It culminates in a two night Fashion Show where the Sixth Form use business acumen and entrepreneurial skills to negotiate with local shops and liaise with local businesses to put on the show.
Head of Sixth Form, Mr Rob Smith, added, ‘At Portsmouth High School we encourage social responsibility as much as academic achievements and the girls give to the community in many other ways too, offering their time and creativity to a huge range of projects. It is always encouraging to see young people engaged with the wider community. The issue of homelessness has really resonated with them. Subsequently, with great abundance and energy they have thrown themselves into this charity campaign.’
Head Girl, Chloe continued: ‘There has been such a lot to organise and I’ve definitely learnt that it’s better to share jobs rather than try to do it all yourself. I’m so pleased with how everyone has taken their roles on board, whether it be choreographing dances, selling wristbands or just spreading the word about events within school. We’re all really looking forward to the week, especially the fashion show as this is always a highlight. I think the week has been well planned so that everyone should have a great time and raise a lot of money for a really worthy cause.’
‘Charity week is so much fun,’ said Libby in Year 8. ‘And it is all for a really good cause too.’
‘It is important because we feel we are really helping other people,’ added Saffron in Year 7.
‘It is so well organised and brings the whole school together,’ said Lydia in Year 9. ‘And a great way to raise money for the Society of St James.’
‘The Society of St James work with people to identify their individual needs and to find ways that we can support them to make the changes they want to see in their own lives,’ said Trevor Pickup, SSJ Chief Executive, ‘The support of Portsmouth High School will be invaluable to us and we are so grateful to the girls for choosing us as their Sixth Form Charity.’