At Wycombe Abbey giving support to the community, whether global or closer to home, is not an after-thought, but an intrinsic part of School life. Give Back is our School charity initiative which encompasses all the charitable activity at Wycombe Abbey. Charitable involvement is evident everywhere in the School, from bake sales to support for House charities to the Christmas donations of items needed by a local Charity, to large-scale events in aid of the main School charity. Some of the charities we support have been with us since the School's foundation in 1896, while others are chosen each year by the girls themselves. Our aim is to integrate charitable activity and awareness of the needs of others into the School curriculum and development of every pupil's gifts and potential and that through their charitable involvement, our girls become more informed, active and responsible global citizens who are inspired to make a positive difference to the world.
The Charity Committee
Our Charity Committee includes a number of parents and staff and two School Community Concerns Officers. The committee aims to make the School’s giving more personal, tangible and meaningful. Instead of trying to give a little to an infinite variety of worthwhile charities, we want to make a real difference to fewer. Some guidelines have been established to help us do this. We especially appreciate our parents’ involvement and the hard work they put into organising or helping with fundraising events such as the Summer Fete and Bonfire Night.
From the earliest days of the School, Dame Frances Dove instilled the importance of supporting others whether at home or overseas. The School continues to be actively involved with the Melanesian Mission which distributes aid and supports education in the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. Former students have worked there in their gap year. We have a particular link with St Patrick’s Secondary School in Vanuatu for which we are raising money to provide bursaries to enable some children to continue their education there. We also occasionally send over books and equipment to support the school.
The welfare of those living in High Wycombe was also close to Dame Frances Dove’s heart and she established Central Aid, which supports people in need in High Wycombe and runs a furniture recycling project. In the spirit of this, we continue to support Central Aid along with other local welfare projects such as the Wycombe Homeless Connection and, more recently, the One Can Trust food bank. A number of our UVI students are also able to offer some practical help as part of their community service. We also have a team of swimmers who assist a local charity, Horizons, with its programme for disabled school children.
Each term girls contribute a pound for 'Mish Money' which is divided between these charities and funds are also raised through some of our mufti days.
The Whole School Charity
We have a charity, chosen by the girls every year, which the whole School supports, particularly through the Summer Fete, the Family Charity Tennis Tournament, some of the stalls on Bonfire Night and occasional collections within the School.
This year we are aiming to Give Back locally: the whole School is supporting the South Bucks Hospice Butterfly Appeal with the aim of building of a brand new and expanded premises for hospice day care in High Wycombe (http://www.sbh.org.uk/assets/documents/butterfly_appeal.pdf).
Specifically, we are aiming to fund the building and equipping of a conservatory, to be called 'The Abbey Conservatory', overlooking the garden in the day visitor area. There are plenty of opportunities for pupils to get involved in addition to the community placements we already have in the present day care centre and this is a one off opportunity for us to make a real and tangible difference to hospice care facilities in our local area.
All students are encouraged to engage in charitable support. Individuals may fundraise for charities of their own choice provided they meet our guidelines and have the support of their houses. Each house has a ‘charity rep' and they are responsible for choosing the house charity and running a service each year highlighting local, global, humanitarian and green issues.
Each term there are designated mufti days and these provide an opportunity for donations to be made to foundation charities or disaster appeals. Collections are also made for particular national charity days such as Red Nose Day or the British Legion Poppy Appeal. You may also notice donation buckets at School events such as the Highlights show.
Towards the end of the Autumn term there is a collection of practical items for local Wycombe charities. In LIV, most students undertake charitable work of their own choice as part of their Dove Award. Our Young Enterprise companies donate a proportion of their profits to charity. There is also an active Amnesty group in School who do a lot to raise our awareness of human rights issues.