Northgate loves to give back to the community and a group of Year 11 students have taken it upon themselves to do just that. Lead by Katie Mulligan and supported by Jess Abreu, Beth Barlow, Adam Birks and a few others from Year 11, the students have been visiting dementia residents at Eckling Grange. Katie said ‘towards the end of Year 10, I was thinking about ways we could give back to the community and thought about care homes in the area. Eckling Grange is ideal as it is not too far from school and we are able to visit during our lunch times.’
Along with Mrs Galley, Deputy Head of School and Mrs Kaufmann-Ward, Associate Senior Teacher, the team head to Eckling Grange every Tuesday lunchtime to sit and talk with the residents. Katie had already completed some work experience in a care home in Year 10 and so had experience of people with dementia. She commented, ‘it can be quite difficult and upsetting at times so we were all prepared in advance of what to expect, what we could and couldn’t talk about. We tend to speak to the same few residents each week. Their faces light up when they see us and it is a real highlight for them. They just love speaking to people, seeing new faces and chatting to us. They talk about our uniforms, how smart we look, what they had for lunch and random things really. We feel we are doing something good and although it is small, it is making a difference to the residents. They appreciate us taking the time to see them, we get a boost from it and it brings the generations together. It gives us a chance to promote a positive image of teenagers – we do care and we want to help and give back.’
In November Katie, Jess and Beth were interviewed for a piece in the Dereham Times and in December they appeared on BBC Radio Norfolk (clip at the bottom of the blog) to talk about what they have been doing and also promote the Dereham Christmas Lights Switch-On Northgate attended. The school raised money for Dementia Friends by selling homemade cakes, craft items and Christmas decorations made by pupils and staff and a raffle. It was a fantastic event with the whole community coming together. Northgate managed to raise an incredible £951. Just before Christmas, teachers from the English and Drama Department at school, along with some of the Year 11s put on a little carol concert for the residents at Eckling Grange. Katie mentioned, ‘it was a great occasion, some of us were in tears as there was one lady who doesn’t normally speak but as soon as we started singing, she joined in too!’
When Katie has finished Year 11, she plans to study at Dereham Sixth Form and hopes to continue visiting Eckling Grange and doing her bit for the community.