A caring Plantsbrook School student is asking his classmates to help him deliver some good cheer this Christmas – by putting together care parcels for struggling families and the homeless.
Sixteen-year-old Ben Songhurst, from Boldmere, wants to inspire students at the school in Upper Holland Road to help him collect contents for the boxes, which he intends to donate to homeless charity St Basils, and the FoodBank at the United Reformed Church in Sutton town centre.
“I was just thinking about what a difficult year it has been for so many people,” explained Ben, “and how Christmas is probably going to be different for lots of people too.
“Then I thought ‘actually, for people who are homeless or struggling, it’s always going to be much worse’.
“That’s why I thought it would be good to put together the boxes, to provide a little extra help for people when they really need it.”
Ben’s boxes contain everyday essentials such as toiletries and new underwear as well as facemasks and hand sanitiser.
“I thought that Food Banks were already helping people with food, so my boxes could provide other things that people need, like toothpaste and deodorant, as well as things that could be useful because of the pandemic,” he said.
Now Ben, who is studying Business, History and Sociology in Plantsbrook’s highly-regarded Sixth Form, is trying to recruit his fellow students and local residents to help him fill 60 boxes he has made a decorated.
“I have created a presentation, which has been shared with all the teachers in the school, and I hope they will show it to all their classes to let everyone know how they can help,” he said.
“Then I thought ‘actually, for people who are homeless or struggling, it’s always going to be much worse’” –
“And if there are businesses or individuals in Sutton who would like to donate items to go into the boxes I would be really grateful.”
Crown paint, where Ben’s dad Mark works, have donated items including reusable water bottles and socks.
Ben added: “Most homeless people are male – so the aim is for 40 of the boxes to include items specifically for men – but then there will be 10 aimed at women and another 10 for families, which will include a few festive items like mince pies.”
Plantsbrook’s Head of Sixth Form Lisa Proctor said: “We are incredibly proud of Ben’s dedication and determination to give back to our local community at the same time as promoting the importance of giving back to the community with our younger students.
“Our Sixth Form students are always keen to be developing their enrichment CV and getting involved in community support work outside of the classroom.
“We were so pleased when Ben approached the Sixth Form team with his idea for care parcels for the local community,”
– heads of sixth form lisa proctor
“This is something we promote and encourage as soon as students join our Sixth Form, allowing our students to have a wide and varied CV/personal statement to support any future job/university applications. Usually around October, students start to work as a team to organise donations for a local food bank.
“We were so pleased when Ben approached the Sixth Form team with his idea for care parcels for the local community. He outlined his plan and carefully explained how he would like to run this as a whole school community project.
“All aspects of this project are being overseen by Ben with support from some of the Sixth Form student leaders.”
Because of the need to restrict visitor numbers to the school, Plantsbrook are urging anyone who would like to support Ben’s appeal not to bring donations to the site, but to instead email email@example.com FAO Ben Songhurst Y12.