Pupils from Nightingale Primary School, Woolwich, South East London spend Saturday spreading the Christmas spirit and helping London’s homeless through the winter

Christmas giving was the theme of the day on Saturday 14th December in Elephant and Castle, when members of the Year 6 class from Nightingale Primary School, Woolwich, created winter packs for London’s homeless population in the Back to Kindness event organised by Rob Hill Foundation – a charity which supports people suffering from addiction, and their families. Led by Nightingale’s Child Welfare Officer Lisa Risby and supported by teachers Mrs Tomkins and Mrs Curras, the dedicated pupils and 150 other volunteers rose early to spend their Saturday packing over 2,000 rucksacks ready for distribution. Parents and staff have generously donated sleeping bags and contents for the rucksacks, which includes warm winter clothing, food and drink, a stamped envelope, notepad and pens for those keen to contact their friends or family and finally a wrapped gift.

This event follows the success of the Back to Kindness event last year when Nightingale pupils were involved in distributing over 1,000 winter packs to the homeless in London. With over half of the country’s homeless population living in London (almost 170,000 of the 320,000 nationwide) and this winter set to be among the coldest in over 50 years[1], taking care of the city’s homeless people has never been more crucial. An estimated 726 homeless people died in England and Wales in 2018 – an average of two every day.

The Rob Hill Foundation aims to reach out to as many people in the world as possible and share the solution to beating addiction. Its Back to Kindness public awareness campaign has been held annually during the festive season for the past three years in association with Denise Mortimer and the Ministry of Sound which donates the premises, food and refreshments for to the volunteers. The purpose of this event is to:

  • Raise awareness of homelessness
  • ​Enable people of all ages to get involved and help someone less fortunate than themselves
  • ​Make someone’s day – let people living on the streets know they are not forgotten and give them some useful items
  • ​Deliver the Beat Addiction Plan to anyone who may require it

Nightingale Primary Academy in Woolwich, East London, is a mixed community primary school including nursery for pupils aged 3 – 11 rated ‘Good’ by Ofsted with ‘inspirational leadership’. The school is driven by its high aspirations for all pupils, providing an enriched and innovative curriculum that encourages each and every pupil to find and develop their passions and talents – creative, sporting and academic. The school forms part of the Maritime Academy Trust, an educational charity catering for over 2600 pupils aged 3-11 across eight primary schools with nurseries, in London and Kent.

Lisa Risby, Child Welfare Officer at Nightingale, said, “I have a long history of working with homeless charities and I’m very passionate about this cause. I’m so proud of all the pupils for their hard work. Events such as Back to Kindness are a wonderful opportunity to achieve one of our main aims at Nightingale – to promote the development of pupils’ skills and knowledge to enable them to make a positive contribution to the local and global community.” Pupil Eleonora commented, “Today has really made me think of those less fortunate and how I can help if I see a homeless person. I’m really grateful for my education.”