This autumn, School of Sanctuary Student Ambassadors from Carmel College were nominated for – and won! – two awards at the Darlington Stronger Communities Awards. The awards recognise individuals and organisations who are dedicated to supporting their community.
Out of hundreds of nominees, our students won Exceptional Young Volunteer and then the overall Young Citizen of the Year award. Four students attended the awards, representing around 100 children who have volunteered to be part of the School of Sanctuary group. After receiving their award, they spent the evening talking to people about their work and the importance of standing in solidarity with people seeking asylum.
At Carmel College, School of Sanctuary Student Ambassadors dedicate several hours each week to leading various sanctuary-related projects in school and beyond. This has included creating resources and leading assemblies to correct misconceptions and enable their peers to see beyond the very loaded media headlines. Recently, over 90 students collaborated on the organisation of a school-wide culture festival where students shared knowledge, food, cultural traditions, dancing and more. One student described it as “a safe way to say this is who my people are”.
The School of Sanctuary Ambassadors have also been committed to fundraising and supporting refugees both locally and on a global scale. To date, they have raised over £1000. They make annual Christmas hampers for people seeking sanctuary in our town, and support Darlington Assistance for Refugees (a local charity) with fundraising events. Many also act as interpreters for their peers, particularly Ukrainian children.
Schools of Sanctuary Student Ambassadors have also begun outreach work, organising activities with unaccompanied asylum seeking children in Darlington and a possible pen pal scheme with a refugee camp in Jordan.
Amy Whittaker, Sanctuary Lead at Carmel College said ‘The current School of Sanctuary Student Ambassadors have created a legacy of kindness and compassion in our school, and are inspiring other students to be future leaders and catalysts of change. We are incredibly proud of them and they have achieved.’