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  • School in a Bag 11:22 am on February 28, 2017 Permalink | Reply  

    SIAB ‘Blog in a Bag’ No. 21: A new member of the team. 

    Our blog in a bag this month comes from Annabel Bates who has supported School in a Bag for many years – but has recently taken on a more involved and regular role with us. Over to Annabel to introduce herself and tell you a little bit more…

    My name is Annabel, I’m 31, and I live in Yeovil with my Husband and my 2 children.  I was born and grew up in Yeovil, going to Birchfield and Buckler’s Mead School and then on to Yeovil College. When I left College I moved away from Yeovil for a couple of years to live my my partner, but once we married and had our  1st child we moved back to Yeovil to be closer to family and friends.

    By the time we got back to Yeovil, The Piers Simon Appeal and School in a Bag were already established and Home Farm Festival had been running for a few years. We had 2 small kids, a love of music and camping so the festival appealed to us straight away and from our first weekend we were totally hooked! As we learnt more about the charity and all the fantastic work it does it made sense to get more involved and gradually I got involved with the Big Bag Pack at Tesco and other events that School in a Bag put on throughout the year.

    In 2015 I turned 30 and celebrated by asking family and friends to fund a Schoolbag on my behalf rather than buying a present. I smashed my target of raising enough money to pay for 30 SchoolBags (one for each year) and those bags went off to Haiti to change the lives of poor, vulnerable and disaster affected children.

    In late 2016 I happened to be in the Quedam just as the School in a Bag shop was opening and I went in to say hello – and left having agreed to help out a couple of times a week! Sensing my willingness to help out (and inability to say no) Luke offered me a role volunteering for the Charity on a regular basis one day a week and the rest is history!In ‘real life’ I work as a consultant for Slimming World with groups in Yeovil on a Thursday and Friday so we agreed that I would volunteer on a Monday to fit in around that and my family life. I’m based in the School in a Bag Office helping out with admin, festival and event planning, social media and pretty much anything else that needs an extra pair of hands. I’m pretty honoured to have been asked to be a part of this amazing group of people and start helping to make a difference to as many little lives as I can.

     

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  • School in a Bag 11:07 am on February 23, 2017 Permalink | Reply  

    An video update from The Woodheads. 

    Our most recent Blog in a Bag post told you all about brother and sister duo Rob and Georgina Woodhead who travelled to Nepal to distribute Schoolbags that they had funded themselves. If you haven’t seen that post you can view it here:  

    http://www.schoolinabag.org/blog/?p=369694

    Further to that post Georgina and Rob have shared a video of their trip to Nepal which we would love to share with you. You can find it here:

    https://www.facebook.com/GR-go-to-Nepal-2016-109411262803347/?fref=ts

    Thanks to Georgina and Rob for their fantastic support!

     

     

     
  • School in a Bag 11:38 am on February 20, 2017 Permalink | Reply  

    American Diner Night – Friday 10th March 

     

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    This fab event is happening soon – and we still have some tickets available!

    It’s all happening here in the barn at Home Farm HQ  on Friday 10th March, from 7pm-11pm.

    Tickets are £20pp and for that you will get delicious American-themed food from No. 5 Catering, hip swinging line dancing by Toe The Line, a licenced bar, milkshakes and games. We’ll also be holding a raffle with all proceeds going to School in a Bag, oh, and suitable dressing up is optional but strongly encouraged

    To book your place, please email: events@schoolinabag.org or call the office: 01935 849160

     

     

     
  • School in a Bag 2:56 pm on February 6, 2017 Permalink | Reply  

    SIAB ‘Blog in a Bag’ No. 20: The Woodheads visit Nepal. 

    This edition of Blog in a Bag is written by one of our supporters Rob Woodhead who, along with his sister Georgina, spent time in Nepal in 2016 having previously done gap years there when they were younger. Having already travelled to West Nepal to build deep water wells, the second part of their trip took them to the East of the country to distribute some of our SchoolBags.
    If you visited our School in a Bag Shop in the Quedam before Christmas you would have seen some of the amazing photos that Georgina took while they were there – we have included some at the end of the post. 
    We’d love to thank Rob and Georgina for all their support and now hand you over to Rob to tell us more about their trip!

    The second part of our adventure took us to Helambu in the Sindhupalchok region of east Nepal, a few hours drive from Kathmandu, up into the incredible foothills of the Himalayas. We were in another 4×4, this time laden with school equipment, picking our way through the monsoon soaked mountain roads, on our way to a remote school where we were to deliver school bags to children affected by the earthquakes in 2015.

    This journey started back in March 2016 when Georgina met the wonderful Luke Simon, an extraordinary guy who started the Piers Simon Appeal and its initiative School in a Bag. They found a common interest in charitable work in Nepal. Luke’s charity had started working there delivering ruck sacks filled with stationery, learning resources and eating utensils to poor, orphaned, disadvantaged and disaster affected children.
    We agreed it was a great opportunity to further help and joined forces on their UK 3 Peaks Challenge. We raised just over £2,000, which paid for 133 bags that we planned on delivering ourselves.

    After the well project tour had completed, we headed back to Kathmandu and met up with Jimmy Lama, the head of School in a Bag’s local Nepali partner HELP, and his right hand man, Mohan Tamang. They were to be our friends and guides for the next few days, helping us distribute the bags they had arranged as part of their collaboration with School in a Bag.
    Jimmy has created an exceptional charity that is focused on his home region of Sindhupalchok, a region devastated by the earthquakes. In this region alone nearly 40% of the 8,698 casualties occurred, and we were told, 70% of residential buildings were destroyed. Jimmy and his team are working hard alongside School in a Bag to distribute school materials and even rebuild several schools in the area.
    The journey to the recipient school took us through some amazing landscapes, in stark contrast to the flat lands we had been in just days before. We were now in the foothills of the Langtang Himalayas, riding along roads in deep gorges or precariously placed on the side of steep valleys. The school had been chosen after an application process deemed the children would particularly benefit from the donation.

    On arriving at the school, we were met by 50 children all eager to see what we were bringing in the back of our packed truck. They helped us unload and we gathered with the rest of the children, the teachers and their parents in a clearing near the school. Georgina and I had become accustomed to receiving garlands of marigolds wherever we went, but at the distribution ceremony it felt like we received flowers from each of the 133 children. We then heard from local dignitaries, an eloquent 7- year-old girl and with Jimmy’s gracious help, I managed to stumble through a few thank you’s in Nepali, and explain we were there representing all our generous donors, to whom they all sent their great thanks.
    The children were clearly very excited to have us there and to be receiving these wonderful gifts.
    After the speeches, we set about filling each bag with the requisite stationery, learning resources and eating utensils. Each child received a SchoolBag filled with various types of exercise books, pens, pencils, a pencil case, a geometry set, a ruler, a tiffin (lunch) box and water bottle. Once filled, I was given the honor of handing out the bags to all the children. Each child is given a SchoolBag with a unique identifying number, so that we can tell you the names of the 133 children who received bags that day, through School in a Bag, you can follow where it has been sent and exactly who has benefitted, a great aspect of the charity.

    The children then sat around examining their bags with looks of joy on their faces. It’s amazing how such simple things, that we take for granted, can help so much. Talking to Jimmy and Mohan about previous distributions it is clear these donations make a big difference. Without exercise books and pens the children can’t take notes during class or do homework. Without tiffin boxes or water bottles the children will go home at lunch time (often a very long walk), missing half a day’s school because they are hungry or thirsty. These bags improve the children’s education drastically and reduce the burden on the parents to have to pay for this equipment.

    The following day Mohan took us to visit a school that had received bags some 5 months previously. Here we saw first-hand the impact that the bags were having on the school. The Headmaster told us that attendance had risen, and grades had improved, a phenomenon seen at many of the schools where SchoolBags have been donated. Another interesting observation from the teachers was that the children had felt a sense of pride and responsibility from being given the SchoolBags. They were often one of their only possessions after losing everything in the earthquakes, and provided a positive influence after such traumatic experiences.

    It was an emotional few days for Georgina and me. We were lucky enough to be the first at School in a Bag to be involved with both the fundraising and distribution of the SchoolBags. To see the impact the bags had on such amazing, inquisitive and happy children was incredibly special. Visiting the second school brought home to us just how important these SchoolBags are, and we are very happy we got to work alongside Luke, Jimmy, Mohan and all the other great people in the UK and Nepal.

    Re-visiting Nepal after so many years was an incredible experience. We saw friends we hadn’t seen in years, places we thought we would never see again and met new people who reminded us that Nepal is a very special place. We are thrilled that we managed to complete both projects successfully, without any major issues, and this was mainly due to the fantastic partners we had working with us. We were very lucky to be helped along the way by our great friends and I would like to take a moment to mention a few of them:
    Luke Simon and his team at School in a Bag, thank you for letting us tag along on your brilliant 3 Peaks Challenge and be part of your amazing charitable family.
    Jimmy Lama and Mohan Tamang and their team at HELP, thank you for arranging everything for us, guiding us and being so helpful throughout our time with you in Sindhupalchok, we couldn’t have done it without you.

    And finally, from Georgina and me, an enormous thank you to everyone who donated to either project. We were touched that so many people, not just our friends and family, donated so generously to causes they believed in.

      

     
  • School in a Bag 3:11 pm on December 21, 2016 Permalink | Reply  

    During the 12 months of 2016, School in a Bag did achieve: 

    During the 12 months of 2016, School in a Bag did achieve!…(read to the tune of The 12 days of Christmas – but that is where the tune ends!):

    Please see below the top 12 School in a Bag facts and achievements from 2016.  Thank you so much to everyone who has contributed to this record-breaking year.  We simply could not do this without the amazing support that we continually get from our donors, volunteers and fundraisers and for this, we are eternally grateful.

    1: Surpassing the 70,000 SchoolBag milestone

    This was a target of ours for 2016 and we were delighted to reach it in early November. In fact, the current total stands at 73,716 and with 2,122 waiting to be put together ‘In Country’ or handed out when the schools start back in early 2017, our total will increase to 75,838.

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    SIAB world presence map with new countries for 2016

     

    2:  Increasing our Countries Total to 35*

    We are very happy to have distributed SchoolBags in 9 new countries this year:

    Albania | Angola | Cambodia | France | Greece | Haiti | Ivory Coast | Peru | Syria.

    *SchoolBags have arrived in Bulgaria for distribution in early January which will be country 36.

    One particular success has been the formation of excellent partnerships with charities working in Europe and these have proven to be a great outlet for the ever-increasing amount of SchoolBags we continue to pack here in the UK amongst our donors and schools.

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    Albania becomes SIAB country No: 35

     

    3:  Supporting Refugee and War-Affected Children in Syria, Greece and France

    2016 has been the first year where through an increasing network of charity partners, School in a Bag has been able to get SchoolBags to children in war torn areas or refugee camps where the need is so great.  SIAB are indebted to the commitment and dedication of our partners who take great risks to deliver our little red bags to children who have lost everything through man-made disasters.  Our special thanks to Hand in Hand for Syria, CalAid and Care4Calais

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    In all, 720 SchoolBags were distributed in Aleppo, Syria in 2016

     

    4:  Reaching the 10,000 SchoolBag milestone in Nepal

    Thanks to our amazing Nepal Earthquake Appeal last year our partners HELP (Helambu Education Livelihood Partnership) have been kept busy during 2016 supporting the schools and communities in Sindhupalchowk district most severely affected.  In continuing aftershocks the HELP team continue to increase their outreach and to date over 10,200 children in 80 schools have now received SchoolBags since December 2012.

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    Photo: Georgina Woodhead

     

    5:  Raising over £100,000 as Charity Service Partner for the Inner Wheel Association

    On June 30th our year-long partnership with the Inner Wheel Association officially came to an end but money continued to pour in after until finally, in November the £100k barrier was surpassed.  The partnership promoting SIAB amongst the clubs and districts around the UK was absolutely magnificent for raising the profile of the charity at a national level and we shall be ever grateful for the wonderful generosity and hospitaility shown during our year together.

    6:  An incredible 3 days in April at the Inner Wheel Association National Conference

    With a fully packed minibus containing stock to pack 200 SchoolBags, the SIAB team departed from Home Farm on an April Sunday morning for the road trip to Glasgow to set-up shop in the house of friendship for three days. On day 2, during Luke’s presentation to the 2,100 delegates, he announced that the SIAB team would like to take the SchoolBags back to Somerset funded and packed.  Cue the busiest five hours in School in a Bag history!  And…it didn’t stop on day 3 – in all 400 SchoolBags were funded in a day and a half and along with over 1,500 knitted teddies that were taken to Conference, the minibus was fully laden on the return journey to Somerset.

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    What a year…thank you indeed!

     

    7:  Building a new school called Shree Deurali

    It was always agreed that a portion of the money raised by the Inner Wheel Association would be used to fund the re-build of a school in Nepal.  In late April the first foundation stones for Shree Deurali School in Tartong (60kms north of Kathmandu) were laid by Ann Acaster, International Service Chair for the Inner Wheel Association and over the course of the year the seven-classroom school for 220 children was built under the guidance of the HELP team.  Thus far, HELP have built eight of the 15 schools they pledged to build and SIAB are seeking further funds to assist them with their mission.

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    The school is almost complete

     

    8:  Adding a 5th stage to Home Farm Fest

    Following Home Farm Fest 10 in 2015, it was clear that there was a need to expand the site and breach in to the adjoining field. By adding a big inflatable 5th stage and shifting the children’s area up to join it, Home Farm Fest 11 was able to increase the capacity of bands (96) and punters to raise a cool £60,000!

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    Busy scenes at the new Domer Stage at Home Farm Fest 11

     

    9:  Funding SchoolBags in Ghana made from rubbish

    In September, SIAB received a request to get SchoolBags to schools in Ghana in association with the charity Tzedek.  Shipping SchoolBags was not an option and sourcing a red rucksack proved non-existent which left us with an issue.  Then we discovered a social enterprise company in Accra called Trashy Bags that make bags out of rubbish.  In October, 287 SchoolBags with rucksacks made from recycled water sachets were handed out and funds for a further 401 SchoolBags for Phase II have been wired ready for distribution in January 2017.

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    The TrashyBag SchoolBag made from water sachets

     

    10:  Watching Ed Pratt continue his amazing journey to become the first person to unicycle around the world whilst raising funds for School in a Bag

    Ed continues to enthrall us with amazing posts on social media about his trip.  His ability to document the adventures on his journey so incredibly well really do make you feel as if you are there experiencing it with him.  We were so pleased that Ed reached his first fundraising target this year and look forward to him surpassing his next one!

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    Ed Pratt – our unicycling, fundraising adventurer

     

    11: Having our first ‘Retail Experience’ with a School in a Bag pop up shop in Yeovil

    When the invitation to have our first ‘pop-up’ charity shop was offered to us by The Quedam Shopping Centre in Yeovil it was too good an opportunity to miss. The original plan to have a window display and hold an event in it quickly changed to us making the decision to physically man the shop to encourage people in to it. Of course, the public would need something to do whilst in the shop and packing SchoolBags was obviously the solution – thus, the 110 SchoolBag Wall was born and the challenge of trying to fund (and pack them all) was on. With two shopping days still to go, over 400 SchoolBags have been funded so far during the seven week stint and we have been amazed at the awareness it has generated in our local area. Thank you to The Quedam and to the Mayor and Mayoress of Yeovil for supporting the ♯QuedamCampaign.

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    The first School in a Bag shop

     

    12: Winning the Main Sponsors’ Award at the Western Gazette Business Awards

    Having been upgraded to the Business of the Year Award and not been successful in this category we were amazed to be presented the Main Sponsors’ Award at the end of the evening amongst such prestigious corporate company. The Western Gazette and Somerset Live have been fabulous supporters of School in a Bag and we are ever grateful for the exposure they continue to give us.

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    The Western Gazette Business Awards: SIAB win Main Sponsors’ Award

     

    And finally….the 13th point!!

    13: Making the news with the School in a Bag version of the internet sensation ‘Pen Pineapple Apple Pen’

    Sometimes, Luke ought to learn to keep his mouth shut for having shown the office the ridiculous Pen Pineapple Apple Pen clip on YouTube that had 58 million views at the time, the idea to do a School in a Bag parody was born. In a one take wonder, the School in a Bag version was viewed 850 times on You Tube and made it on the ITV.com website.

    “I have a School, I have a Bag”

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    Click the image to play the clip…at your peril!

     

    Thank you once again. Wishing you all a happy and healthy festive season – here’s to 2017!

    From the School in a Bag Team: Luke, Zoë, Charlotte and Lis :)

     

     
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