Students from Calthorpe Academy, which is a special Educational Needs (SEN) school in Highgate, got to play Santa today (20/12), delivering donations to young people at local supported accommodation facility, Conybere Gardens, after receiving a special present of their own.

Calthorpe Academy pupils have been given the life-changing opportunity to learn new skills on the youth achievement programme – The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (DofE) – thanks to Birmingham City Council’s highways partner, Amey, and the DofE charity who are jointly funding the places as they celebrate their 15 year-long strategic partnership.

And it is a gift that keeps on giving as the students, with unique and complex educational needs, will support Amey’s local charity of choice, St Basil’s, as they work towards ten Bronze DofE Awards and three Silver DofE Awards through a customised DofE programme.

The DofE programme includes challenging learning and skills activities, an expedition, and a unique volunteering section supporting the Homeless to Highways project which gives young people, who have experienced homelessness, employment opportunities with Amey’s local Traffic Management supplier, HTM.

Mr Mounir Meghalsi, Deputy Head Teacher at Calthorpe Academy, said: “We are very pleased to have been involved in the Homeless to Highway project as part of our volunteering section for our Duke of Edinburgh Award. The project has given us the opportunity to meet homeless people and deliver everyday essentials donated by staff and parents. It is a very worthy cause which has allowed our pupils to integrate and continue to be valued members of the community.”

Barrie Hodge, head of fundraising and communications at St Basils, said: “We are absolutely thrilled at this wonderful support from Amey, Calthorpe academy and the DofE.  This investment in the young people of the local community is invaluable in providing much needed support during difficult times.  On behalf of them all, thank you.”

Jackie Bull, Regional Director of the DofE in Central England added: “I am delighted that our partnership with Amey in Birmingham can give these young people the opportunity to take part in this valuable volunteering initiative in Birmingham. The DofE helps prepare young people for the world of work. This project is giving young people from Calthorpe a great opportunity to develop their critical thinking and communication skills, whilst helping other young people from St. Basils out of difficult circumstances.”

Image: Yvonne (St Basils), Lara Thorns (Amey), Angela (St Basil’s), Bradley Hughes (Calthorpe Acadmey), Dan (St Basils), Levi Boyanga (Calthorpe Academy), Joshua Mcroy (Calthorpe Academy) and Chris Harding (DofE Charity)