A Tyneside academy trust is encouraging its students to help those less fortunate than themselves at Christmas with the focus on families who live locally on the breadline.
Benfield School in Newcastle’s east end is part of the recently formed Newcastle East mixed multi-Academy Trust (NEAT). NEAT is a partnership of five schools – four primaries and one secondary school which provide inter-school collaboration and a seamless transition when the younger students move up to the larger secondary school.
An initiative that has been running at Benfield School for the past seven Christmas’s is the donation of food to make hampers for those student’s families that are finding it tough to cope at Christmas. This year, the scheme has been rolled out to the other schools in NEAT; Central Walker, Tyne View, Walkergate and West Walker Primary Schools. More than 50, year seven students have been eagerly making posters, collecting donations of food and gifts and packaging them into hampers ready for delivery.
The school has received a welcome helping hand from businessman Rob Armstrong from Ponteland who has donated £1000 to boost the student’s supply of food. Rob whose business interests include LA Taxis and MTrec Recruitment was only too keen not only to donate towards the cost of food but also to encourage other local businesses to do the same.
“I was staggered when my wife Bev told me about the good work NEAT are doing this Christmas and how motivated the youngsters are. She told me how they really wanted to get involved to help their fellow classmates whose families are struggling and I find that very commendable.
“It also draws attention to the fact that a lot of families on Tyneside are facing a bleak Christmas because they can’t afford to buy things that many of us take for granted. I’m not talking computers or tablets, I’m talking about food and clothing.
“I’m making a plea to other businesses in the North East to look at what is happening in their local area and do what they can to help. Sadly, for some people on our doorsteps, the glittering lights of Christmas are a depressing sight and kind-hearted acts like what those the NEAT youngsters are doing goes a long way to making this time of year a little more special. I’d urge business leaders to open their eyes, dig deep and help.”
Assistant Head Teacher Maria Irving was delighted with the donation and the way that the students had rallied around to help those less fortunate than themselves.
“It surprises many people just how much poverty and social deprivation is in evidence within the areas where we live and work.
“This kind donation from Rob and his wife Bev will be used by the five schools to provide food and gifts to ease the hardship and poverty experienced by families in our community.”