The Community Service programme is now a well-established part of life at Shiplake. Having begun with senior pupils helping elderly residents in Shiplake village with their gardening, pupils in Years 10-13 are now undertaking valuable and much appreciated work in the local area or within the College itself on Tuesday afternoons.
A number of Sixth Formers visit local care homes to spend time with the elderly residents. Pennie Carter, Activity Coordinator at Lashbrook House Care Home in Shiplake, has emphasised the positive impact the students have on the home’s residents: "Our residents love the youngsters coming in and chatting with them and they really look forward to Tuesday afternoons. They really interact with the residents which is lovely to see. I personally find it very helpful as well."
In addition, twelve charity shops around Caversham and Henley benefit from Shiplake pupils volunteering their time. Shop Manager of the Helen & Douglas House shop in Henley, Jean Hugill, comments "It’s been four years now that Shiplake have been sending students to volunteer in the shop. This helps us a great deal, especially as they don’t mind what jobs they do. A number also undertake their own fundraising for the charity which is a great bonus."
As well as providing a great service to local residents and businesses, the scheme helps the students to develop numerous interpersonal skills. Students have commented that they enjoy interacting with customers and giving something back to the community.
The Headmaster, Gregg Davies, is a big supporter of the scheme. "It is great to see our students out and about serving in the community. They clearly have a wonderful impact on the charities and elderly residents’ lives. It is also beneficial to their own personal development, helping them to improve their communication and other important life skills."
For the students who remain in College, there are numerous other tasks to be completed. Several pupils form the 'green team' which deals with recycling around the site and the Headmaster also oversees a group doing jobs in the orchard. Finally, there is never a shortage of volunteers offering to walk the dogs belonging to staff members.