Heartlands Academy

Heartlands Academy spread some Christmas cheer

Get Set for Community Action is a brand new programme which builds on the lessons, momentum and successes generated through Get Set to Make a Change – a programme which ran between 2013-2015. Both use the inspiration of the Olympic and Paralympic Values in encouraging students to work within their local community groups to plan and run projects which help to make their communities healthier and more active places to live.

The Get Set to Make a Change team at Heartlands Academy hosted a Christmas party for residents at a young person’s homeless shelter. After reaching out to several organisations they chose to work with St. Basil’s Brandwood, a supported accommodation facility for homeless youth in Birmingham.

Located in south Birmingham, St. Basil’s Brandwood is home to nine individuals, with ages ranging from 16-25, and their families. The shelter provides a variety of support and life-skill services to its residents to help them transition back to living with their family, or living and supporting their family on their own. The Get Set to Make a Change team decided to throw a Christmas party for the residents and their families, providing them with an enjoyable afternoon where they could take a break and celebrate with each other.

They used the Olympic Values of friendship and respect, and the Paralympic Values of inspiration and equality to inspire them. The Legacy Leaders also took into consideration the food and drinks provided at the Christmas party so that they included healthier items as well, such as sandwiches and vegetables, which delivered on the theme of ‘eating more healthy food’.

The party itself was considered a success by all involved! The residents and students mixed together easily, providing both with the opportunity to get to know each other better and challenge any misconceptions the groups had about each other. Gifts were also provided for residents and their families. Six months on, the gifts such as a toy truck, were still being used and enjoyed.

Initially, several of the students that joined the GSTMC initiative, did so as to build their voluntary experience and life skills, in advance of applying to university or college. However, having taken part in organising and delivering the Christmas party, all students felt the project took on a different meaning for them – they were able to plan and deliver an event from start to finish, develop an understanding of less advantaged members of their local community and created a positive experience for the residents at St. Basil’s.

"Once we got this opportunity, not only do you want to help but you want to make sure that any time opportunities like this come up, you jump at it and give it a go because you can change a life." Team member, Heartlands Academy

"I’m there as a guide. The pupils had to lead it …to have a sense of ownership. They need to do things for themselves, and decide what to do and how to deliver it. That’s how they change themselves as an individual. When they go into their own communities, they take that with them." Team Coordinator, Heartlands Academy