As part of their GCSE Citizenship course, New College students participated in a piece of Active Citizenship, which enabled them to get involved in initiatives to help with the growing number of homeless people in Swindon. Through their own research, students selected a social problem on a local scale and interviewed HOSTS, a Swindon based organisation, which helps to improve the lives of the homeless in the town. Students also collected secondary data for their project, which informed their active community involvement. This resulted in students campaigning at New College for specific food supplies, which they could then distribute to HOSTS, who help to coordinate those charities in need of donations.

Citizenship Lecturer, Mark Owen said: “Students on this project worked really hard researching and campaigning their Active Citizenship. It was really pleasing to see that their hard work resulted in such a good level of donations. It’s really important that younger people are aware of the social and economic problems, which Swindon harbours. Importantly, they must also be aware of ways in which they can contribute to help solve these problems. It is therefore so important that they are provided with such opportunities to do so.”

Both students and the staff teaching GCSE Citizenship were delighted with the number of donations from both staff and students at New College, which was also echoed by Rosemary Curtis – Coordinator at HOSTS.

Rosemary said: “I was really happy to hear about the GCSE Citizenship students’ results. Their donations were taken into ‘The Haven’ for sorting. Some will be used there by Big Breakfast Plus for breakfasts for single homeless people and other tinned foods can be used for cooked lunches that Swindon Night Shelter (SNS) provide at The Haven for homeless people (currently 3 times a week but hopefully more frequently in future). The toiletries will either be given directly to guests or can be sold in SNS’ community shop to help fund their work. Nothing will be wasted. Thank you to the students!”

Not only does GCSE Citizenship require students to be active in a specific concern, it also enables them to learn more about the structure and formation of Government, the political ideologies of various parties and the function of the legal system within Britain.

Current Citizenship student, Chloe Nolan, said: “Social studies is a very interesting and valuable subject. The course itself makes you see the world differently, and you learn so much. The active citizenship part, is the most exciting as it gives you a chance as a young person to change something. For my active citizenship I decided to focus on homelessness, just because it’s a major problem in Swindon. My group advertised and worked on collecting for a food bank and donations were given to our chosen charity. We placed posters, and sent out emails to staff, we also sent out a post on the college Facebook page, to reach a wide range of people. Overall the subject itself is amazing, you learn so much, it’s a very hands-on subject, and is a very good course for university applications!”

Congratulations to the GCSE Citizenship students who completed their campaigns and achieved an excellent set of results. Both students and staff would also like to extend their thanks to HOSTS for their cooperation and support, which helped to support a successful campaign.