CHILDREN from a disadvantaged African community are to benefit from a whole host of North East goodies – when the boat comes in.
For almost 11 years, Atkinson House School in Seghill, Northumberland, which caters for pupils with social, emotional and behavioural problems, has supported the development of a nursery in Gambia.
The partnership began as a building project to create the nursery from scratch for the young children living in the village of Busumbala.
Over the years, the project has grown in size and significance, with Atkinson House joining forces with Ashfield Nursery School in Newcastle’s West End to increase fundraising efforts.
Additionally, community groups such as West Moor Residents’ Association in North Tyneside and businesses, including Cramlington Window Cleaning Services, have also been happy to lend a hand.
The latest effort has led to a whole ship container being filled with educational resources, from stationery to computers, clothes and toys, plus practical items such as sewing machines and ceiling fans.
The container, which was supplied by Middlesbrough-based freight organisation Logical Link Solutions, is due to arrive in Gambia next month.
Atkinson House’s deputy headteacher Phil Forster said: “The partnership with Gambia came about when our former deputy head was in the country for a bird-watching holiday and happened to start chatting with the locals about their need for a nursery school.
“After that, we started fundraising to support the actual build of the nursery and to pay for the teaching and support staff to run the school.
“We’ve had a number of fundraising efforts over the years, with people doing the coast-to-coast cycle ride and other sponsored events.
“About two years ago, we teamed up with Ashfield Nursery in Newcastle, which has been instrumental in developing the new build’s nursery curriculum as well as supporting the fundraising efforts.”
He added: “We’ve had a lot of support from people in the community, and everyone’s hard work and effort to fill this container was just superb. We’d especially like to say a big thank you to Logical Link Solutions, who were extremely helpful with sourcing a container and making its transition as easy as possible.”
The school in Busumbala is going from strength to strength, currently supporting the education of almost 400 pupils ranging from three to nine-years-old.
Mr Forster and Carolyn Jubb, from Ashfield Nursery, visit Busumbala every year to continue to develop the curriculum and to support the children and their families.
Mr Forster will be flying out to Gambia in three weeks to coincide with the delivery of the container and to help distribute the resources.
“We also run a scheme where people can sponsor a child for £10 a year, which covers the cost of their school uniform and further teacher training for the staff,” he added.
“We will continue to support the school in all that it does to provide a safe environment for the children to prosper with the opportunity of education for all.”
Anyone interested in sponsoring a child is asked to contact the school on 0191 298 0838.
They can also get in touch by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
We’ve had a lot of support from people in the community, and everyone’s effort to fill this container was superb