The Community Service scheme at Brighton College has been running for over 45 years, and today more than half of the Lower Sixth pupils are involved in a weekly programme of Community Service. Every Wednesday afternoon, most of these pupils leave the school site and go to a variety of placements to join in with a range of activities.
Community Service at Brighton College began primarily as a scheme of befriending and assisting elderly residents in the local area, and the majority of placements are still involved with befriending. Visits can involve helping people with light housework, reading books or listening to music, helping with gardening and watering house plants, but for the most part simply having a conversation and a cup of tea. Pupils who visit a sheltered housing scheme in Kemptown are giving presentations every week on different topics that interest them; the group that visit a care centre in Brighton have been involved in knitting clubs and art activities; the group who visit a residential care home in Patcham are running a board game club.
We visit a wide range of sheltered housing and care homes, both around the school campus, as well as in Rottingdean, Patcham and Hove, and all of our pupils are part of the Dementia Friends social action movement. We have established these befriending visits through three different charities: Time To Talk Befriending, Impetus, and St John's Day Centre, as well as our long-standing relationship with the Patching Lodge retirement community.
We have a group of dog-mad pupils who are dedicated dog walkers, helping to exercise pets whose elderly or disabled owners can't walk them as often as they would like to. We have joined two charities, People and Pets Advocates (PAPAs) and the Cinnamon Trust, who have helped to place the pupils with dogs and their owners.
Community Service events
At Christmas we welcome many of the people whom we visit, as well as other elderly neighbours and their carers to the College's Great Hall for our annual Tea and Carols afternoon. The school choir performs and a large number of volunteers assist in providing transport and serving food and drink. During the Hilary term, we host a Spring Celebration concert in the Great Hall, inviting those whom we befriend to come to us for music, chat and refreshments. In the Trinity term, we hold a very successful picnic at St Ann's Well Gardens in Hove. Pupil volunteers host the event and provide musical entertainment.
Tea and company
We work with Time To Talk Befriending and St Mary's Church, helping to run a weekly social gathering in St Mary's in Kemptown called Tea and Company. This friendship café is a weekly opportunity for the elderly and disadvantaged residents in Kemptown to come together for tea, cake and conversation. Brighton College provide regular entertainment, including our Swing Band who played at the launch in October 2016.
Men in Sheds
We are working with the Fabrica Gallery to establish a new project called Men in Sheds. It began as a pilot project that supported older men who wanted to get together, share and learn new skills, all in the welcoming space of a shed or workshop. The shed will be located in Kemptown, but we have also agreed that the group of 'shedders' will regularly visit our design technology department, under the supervision of Mr Harvey (Head of Design Technology) and a group of Community Service pupils, to use the machines that we have available and to work on new projects.
Community Service pupils are involved in after-school activities in three schools: Elm Grove Primary School, Queen's Park Primary School and Brighton College Pre-Prep. Last year, we established a new baking club and computer club at a local primary school, with our pupils planning and running every activity.
A group of Community Service pupils are involved in writing, recording and broadcasting a live radio programme on Coastway Radio, the hospital radio station for the Royal Sussex Hospital in Brighton, overseen by Old Brightonian Chris Chase. They are also involved in the distribution of charity magazines around the hospital, and with fundraising for the radio station.
Fundraising and events planning
Our fundraising and events planning group are involved in a different activity each term. Throughout the year, they are able to pick a local charity of their choice, and work towards a final project or event. They will also help to organise the three Community Service events, including working with The Girls' Network in February and the annual Battle of the Bands in May.
A number of pupils are involved with the Latin Minimus Group, run by Miss Upchurch from our classics department. Each week, pupils from primary schools come to Brighton College to take part in the Latin group, which is planned and run entirely by the Community Service pupils.