National Grid joined forces with the youth social action charity City Year UK to transform Blue Coat School’s Special Needs Hub on the 4th of October.
Also known as the Inclusion Hub, it provides a place for pupils with learning difficulties, mental health challenges or behavioural issues to spend time in a supportive space. The Hub needed a makeover to ensure it was a calm and welcoming space for pupils to spend time in. National Grid employees and City Year UK’s volunteer mentors launched into making over the hub; they repainted the walls to brighten up the space, designed a mural featuring the word ‘Welcome’ in every language spoken by Blue Coat School’s pupils’, and created colourful boards with positive messages to create a better learning environment.
City Year UK volunteer mentor Amanpreet, who worked with National Grid employees on the Welcome mural, explained “The turnout of all 60 National Grid employees made some of the students –maybe for the first time- feel like they are cared about, they are being thought about and they are having something positive done for them. One student came in whilst we were freshening the walls with white paint and started to cry because she saw that all of us had come together to transform a space that is very personal to her. That drove us even more to make sure we delivered the quality of the makeover that we set out to, and the pupils love our ‘Welcome’ mural that we hand-painted at the entrance in different languages to make our students feel that we recognise their backgrounds and we welcome all individuals.”
In April this year, National Grid and City Year UK launched their Charity of the Year Partnership. As one of City Year UK’s founding partners, National Grid have demonstrated a longstanding commitment to support the mission to tackle educational inequality over the last decade. National Grid employees have been raising funds and supporting City Year UK in a number of ways, and the Service Action Day is a fantastic example. Paul Hamnett, Lead Project Manager at National Grid said that “The volunteering day was completely different to our usual day jobs. Normally, most of the ISS team spend their day across one of our 22 construction sites supervising works. It was great to see everyone chip in to complete their part of project. When we were leaving the school, we were approached by a schoolboy who wanted to know how the newly painted hub was looking. He was very grateful for us for refurbishing his ‘home.’ It was a touching way to end the day.”
This is City Year UK’s first year partnering with Blue Coat School, and the charity was delighted to support them with a Service Action Day. Alex Tomlinson, Assistant Headteacher said “The partnership with City Year UK and National Grid to redecorate our Special Needs Hub facility has been fantastic. We have received a fully funded redecoration of a repurposed space which was in much need of care & attention. The National Grid and City Year UK volunteers have done a fabulous job to a highly professional standard. Blue Coat School as a community and our students with additional learning needs cannot thank these volunteers enough for their hard work & commitment.” A pupil at Blue Coat School also remarked that “It’s a calmer environment now and easier to learn. It feels more colourful and we like the borders and displays”.
Read volunteer mentor Amanpreet’s full blog on the Service Action Day here.