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St Mary's Catholic High School

Pupils deliver Advent donations to The Manna Society

This week, pupils from St Mary’s delivered the large quantity of donations that they had collected during Advent to The Manna Society, a charity based at London Bridge that supports the homeless.  Pupils in each house collected food and clothing in the weeks before Christmas, all things requested by the charity to support their work.

The four Year 9 pupils, each representing their individual houses, were driven to The Manna Society in our school minibus by Mr Scully, our Chaplaincy Co-ordinator, first stopping off at the charity’s storage facility in Bermondsey. They were then invited to visit The Manna Society’s Day Centre, close to London Bridge in the shadow of The Shard, by Mr Paddy Boyle, the Manna Society’s Administrator.

The pupils’ visit at lunchtime coincided with the busiest period of the day, when the staff at the centre were feeding hot food to those in need. Paddy Boyle informed the pupils that about 50% of the people they saw would be sleeping rough that evening, the others would mostly be in temporary accommodation or hostels which were often not secure.

As well as seeing the day centre in action we were able to meet and speak with staff and volunteers, including those cooking in the centre’s kitchen, using food donated to the charity. In addition, Mr Boyle showed the pupils their other facilities such as the clothes store where donated warm clothes are distributed. As the temperature that evening was -7oC, the pupils saw at first hand the invaluable work that the charity was doing, witnessing how they supported the homeless, treating them with dignity and respect.

On their return to school, our pupils agreed that they felt privileged to visit The Manna Society’s Day Centre as they had witnessed at first hand the impact of our school’s commitment to supporting the poor and vulnerable in our local community. It reinforced their understanding of the Catholic Social Teaching principles of ‘Preferential Option for the Poor’ and ‘Human Dignity’.