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  • School in a Bag 4:26 pm on October 31, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Bristol, , , , , Quedam, , SchoolBags, shopping, , , university,   

    SIAB ‘Blog in a Bag’ No. 26: The School in a Bag team is growing! 

    The team at School in a Bag is small, and whilst we are able to produce a lot of good things: the amount of SchoolBags being distributed every year into lots of different countries, running lots of events to raise more money (including our very own music festival), presenting to schools, groups and organisations all over the country and running SchoolBag packs, there’s only a certain limit to just the amount we can do in a week! We’ve been lucky enough to get Hannah on-board for the last few weeks and she’s an asset to the team already – and lowers our average age in the office dramatically too ;). Here’s an introduction by Hannah to her involvement in the charity, and what she’s up to:

    I first got involved in School in a Bag in 2013. I’m now 5 years older, on the other side of Philosophy degree from the University of Bristol, and the charity still can’t seem to shake me off.

    Back in 2012, my mum was a teaching assistant at a Primary School in Surrey, and met Luke at charity showcase arranged by the council. She was sold; she had the school choose it as their charity that year, and insisted I contact Luke to ask about work experience. I had always wanted to work within the charity sector and at that point, School in a Bag was just starting to gain some momentum so it was pretty good timing. As I was the first work experience placement the charity had ever taken on, it was new for the both of us. I spent a week as Luke’s shadow, quickly learnt the ropes and discovered that charity work was what I wanted to do with my future. Cheers mum.

    I kept in close contact with Luke through the years. Between then and now, you may have seen me in the Merchandise tent at Home Farm Festival, selling hoodies, T-shirts and packing SchoolBags between eating cake, and watching some of the fab music. In July, I graduated from Uni with a degree in Philosophy, focusing my studies human rights and ethics. After a summer off, I joined the team on the 1st October for a three month placement.

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    Hannah – 2nd from the right at this year’s Home Farm Fest (CREDIT – CuriousByGeorgePhotography)

    My main role is running the School in a Bag shop in the Quedam Shopping Centre, in the charity’s home town of Yeovil. Following from the success of last year’s retail stint, where during just two months, a whopping 555 SchoolBags were funded and packed, the team have been lucky enough to be granted a shop by the Quedam for a second year. We’ve changed location; now next door to CEX and, thankfully for Luke, that little bit closer to Starbucks! You’ll find me here during the shop’s opening hours of 10am-4pm, Tuesdays to Sundays until the 4th December.

    There’s colouring for children, we’re selling Camon Bears and SIAB Jute bags, and wonderful knitted mice by one of our top supporters, Jennifer. Please, come in and pack a SchoolBag, have a chat and learn more about the charity. If you’re struggling to think of Christmas presents, for just £20, you can even pack a SchoolBag on behalf of a loved one – a wonderful, trackable gift for that relative who has everything…

    All the bags packed in the School in a Bag shop will be sent to the Philippines, and distributed by one of our charity partners, the Purple Community Fund. PCF operate in the slum areas of large cities, and focus on improving lives of children living and working on rubbish dumps. They provide children with the vital education they need to escape their situation, in community schools made out of shipping containers. You can help us make a difference to these children’s lives by funding and packing a SchoolBag in the Quedam shop.

    I’ll be finishing my three month placement with a bang, at the Big 18hr Bag Pack in Tesco Extra, Yeovil, on the 23rd December. We are always eager for more volunteers to help – some come for an hour or two and some are there for up to six! If you can spare some time that day and want to get involved, please contact the charity at events@schoolinabag.org as we’d love to have you on-board!

    Having come to the end of my own formal educational journey in July, I am often reflective on how lucky I was. I know that I would be in a very different place without it, and although I’m pretty certain I won’t be going back for any more studying (100 % certain.), I am confident that if I did I would have the support and educational resources to do so. Globally, there are millions of children and young adults who don’t. I feel so grateful to be a part of a charity which is working to lift children out of poverty through education, and give hope to their futures. All this through one little, red bag.

    SIAB shop 2017

    Our School in a Bag shop’s SchoolBag Wall!

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    People packing their own SchoolBag in our shop :)

    If you’d like to read more about the charity, please visit the website, or visit our Facebook page – or I hope to see you in the shop soon!

     
  • School in a Bag 9:27 am on April 29, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , line-up, , , , SchoolBags, ,   

    SIAB ‘Blog in a Bag’ No. 22: Our Charity Festival and what it means to us 

    Running a charity is hard. You’re constantly trying to come up with new ways to fundraise and capture the imagination of people to part with their hard earned cash. 2006 saw the first Piers Simon Concert, held in memory of Piers on the family farm where the charity is still based. It was in collaboration with popular Yeovil band Storm and there were three bands on one stage during one afternoon/evening – it raised £8,500. Skip 10 more festivals and over £253,000 raised and we’ve now a three day festival, Home Farm Fest, with 6 stages and over 120 bands playing – quite a difference!

    Home Farm Fest has become School in a Bag‘s biggest annual fundraiser. In the last three years alone it has gone from raising £24,000 in 2014 to £46,000 in 2015 and £60,000 last year. The growth is due to a rise in popularity both of musicians wanting to perform, but also people wanting to come along. It’s a very cheap festival (only £45 for an adult Weekender ticket this year), has great music across the 6 stages as well as a large Children’s Area, a Market Area, lots of individual attractions and some great drinking establishments!

    This year’s line-up of musicians is by far our biggest to date, and doesn’t even include our new Busk Stop in our Village Green area that will have people playing all weekend too, in fact not just singers but poets, spoken word and dancers. It’s really exciting to be a part of the development and know that we can fundraise through a completely different way to the more common bike rides, marathons and such like – not that we’re belittling these at all because they are all huge achievements often putting people way out of their comfort zone where as Home Farm Fest is a way for families and friends to come together to enjoy a weekend of good music and fun, yet still raise money for charity.

    We’ve also developed in other ways this year – we’ve introduced e-ticketing which will save us a LOT of money on postage, we’ve getting durable plastic Collectors’ pint cups that will have this year’s Home Farm Fest logo on and help us with our mission of being more green as there will be less waste. We’ve got a new one-way entrance and exit to the festival to alleviate a natural bottleneck we have on-site, but also to help with the flow of traffic and noise in the village. Basically, it’s growing.

    We’re still in our infancy though and as a core team of only four who run both the charity and the festival, it can get pretty crazy at times! We have a fantastic committee of people who help out with running certain areas of the festival and take it on-board in their own spare time, for free. Without them we simply wouldn’t have the manpower to do it all and the festival, and therefore the amount raised would suffer. We also have incredible support from local businesses who donate huge amounts to us: stages, lighting, sound equipment, toilets, marquees, generators, etc etc that means we can get spend to  minimum and profits high. We are so very grateful for all of this time and effort that’s poured into the festival so a BIG thank you to all concerned.

    So back to this year and the music. Here are all the musicians who are performing over the three days and the stages they’re on:Home Farm Fest 12 line-up

     

    If you’d like to come and join in with this year’s festival, tickets can be bought via our website: http://www.homefarmfest.co.uk – we hope to see you in 6 weeks time, 9th-11th June!

    Thanks,

    The School in a Bag and Home Farm Fest team

     
  • School in a Bag 11:29 am on July 28, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: 50 years, birthday, , , Golden Wedding, Inner Wheel, , , SchoolBags   

    SIAB ‘Blog in a Bag’ No. 17: Couple celebrating their Golden Wedding Anniversary turn it red instead! 

    Golden couple Robin and Jane Mason recently celebrated their Golden Wedding Anniversary and instead of asking for presents, asked for donations to School in a Bag…

    We received a lovely email back in April from Robin, who had met our Founder & CEO Luke at the Rotary 1040 Conference in Scarborough last year, as they’d been ‘very taken with the School in a Bag project’. He wanted to let us know that they were celebrating their Golden Wedding Anniversary in July and that ‘we have asked for no presents but if they wish, to make donations for your project’.

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    The Mason’s SIAB display

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    Jane and Robin Mason

    What then happened completely shocked them! Robin and Jane had a lovely day celebrating their Anniversary with their nearest and dearest and at the end of the day counted the donations they’d had and had a staggering £705 – that’s 47 Schoolbags!! They were completely shocked and phoned us with the great news and as they were coming on holiday down to the West Country, could they come to see us at out SIAB HQ near Yeovil and not only give us the cheque, but pack a couple of SchoolBags too. Of course we said yes and they came for their visit on the 11th July so we got to show them around our base and they presented us with the cheque.

    IMG_0834

    Jane and Robin presenting their cheque to Luke

     

    The couple said:”For our Golden Wedding we decided there were only so many Golden Roses we could cope with, so decided to ask for donations to School in a Bag.  We were absolutely amazed by the response and so thankful to all who donated to this great cause.”

    We’d like to thank Robin and Jane enormously for their kindness in thinking of us, but also to wish them many congratulations on their Golden Wedding anniversary and to many more years together :)

    This year we’ve had a number of people approaching us in the same way as the Mason’s have – wanting to use an occasion to raise money for us. We’ve had a 30th birthday, a 9th birthday and a 3rd birthday – all where the recipients opted for donations to School in a Bag rather than having presents, plus an 8 year old who after hearing from her Granny all about School in a Bag, took it upon herself to do her own fundraiser of “how many Skittles are in the jar’. She was allowed to take the jar into school over two days to carry on fundraising, as well as standing up in assembly with two friends to tell all her peers about SIAB – raising enough for 5 SchoolBags and coming to visit us during the Easter holidays to pack them.

     

    We are so grateful to everyone who takes the time and effort in whatever shape or form that may be, to fundraise for us. We love hearing the stories of what’s been the inspiration and motivation and the events that have unfolded to bring the donations in! We’ve also had a bumper year of young fundraisers and to get little ones having the understanding that even a little bit of money can go an awful long way to helping a children their own age in another country to receive equipment that we take for granted, is quite something.

    If you would like to do a fundraiser for us, whatever age you may be, we’d love to hear from you! Also, if you need any marketing materials, fundraising tips or want us to promote what you’re doing through our social media pages, then please get in touch: hello@schoolinabag.org

     

     
  • School in a Bag 4:29 pm on July 4, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , , SchoolBags,   

    SIAB ‘Blog in a Bag’ No. 16: Home Farm Fest 11 raises the roof – and a whole lot more! 

    This month’s blog is all about Home Farm Fest and just what a cracking year we had, breaking all previous records for the amount we raised! Thank you to all of you who came along either as punters or as volunteers and if you couldn’t make it this year, we hope you can make it next year – 9th-11th June 2017!

    Charity Festival is a Record Breaker Once Again!

    Home Farm Fest, the charity music festival held in Chilthorne Domer and the biggest annual fundraiser for the charity School in a Bag, has once again smashed its previous year’s fundraising total coming in at just over £60,000!

    Last year’s festival raised £46,666, an enormous leap from 2014’s £27,418, therefore rising over £32,500 in just two years – and it has now raised a total of over a quarter of a million pounds in its 11 year history.

    This year the festival organisers decided to make a few changes to the layout and introduce a fifth stage which all worked very well, allowing a bigger spread of people over the festival site. The England v Russia Euros football match was also shown on the big screen, cream teas were served amongst a plethora of Union flags and red, white and blue décor in the Tea Tent – where many of the ladies serving even wore tiaras, to celebrate the Queen’s 90th Birthday, and the festival had its first silent disco and dodgems. Definitely a bumper year in more ways than one!

    These changes, plus the continuation of more and more people coming back each year and bringing new people with them, has seen a rise in numbers by nearly 1000 people in the past two years. With the new stage, there were also 96 performances over the three days compared to 71 last year which is almost a 25% rise on the amount of music and other acts on offer.

    Luke Simon, Founder & CEO of School in a Bag and Home Farm Fest organiser, said: “This year took us by surprise once again! Our ticket sales far exceeded any previous year in the lead-up to the festival and we couldn’t believe just how far some people are travelling for it now as it used to be very much a locals thing. There was a big Cornish contingency and having spoken to one man to ask how he’d heard about Home Farm Fest, he said he’d found it after searching for family festivals on the web, come across us and will definitely be back next year, which is great!

    He adds: “With the festival getting bigger, it means relying on more and more volunteers and we are so lucky to have such a brilliant team who help from setting everything up, being here over the festival weekend and then helping tidy up afterwards. We’re only a small team who run the charity and organise the festival, so we are truly grateful for all the help we receive. Once again I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who helps, from all the bands who play for free, the sound engineers and stage managers, Play Art who give up their time to help entertain all the children, and the huge number of volunteers as all this effort amounts to thousands being raised for School in a Bag.”

    Planning for Home Farm Fest 12 (9th-11th June 2017) is already underway and although there won’t be big changes like there were this year, it’s hoped that the upward trend will still continue in the forthcoming years. For now though, School in a Bag is able to prosper from the gain and put it towards helping even more children gain an education through its SchoolBag initiative.

    Have a look a look at the photos below for a round-up of the festival :)

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    School in a Bag and Home Farm Fest team from L-R: Luke Simon, Lis Foy, Charlotte Pike, Zoë Fox

    HFF11 vols

    HFF11 volunteers! (some of!)

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    The Domer – our new stage for this year!

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    A merry gang in their Posh Wears and Wellies for the Friday night

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    Stage backdrop

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    Singing from The Domer stage

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    Cool kids!

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    Climbing the dizzy heights of the Festival

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    Hula!

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    Two of our fab bar staff!

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    Our wedding couple after they’d just got back from their ceremony :)

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    Dodgem fun!

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    Enjoying the festival

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    Three scary people!

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    Some of the wedding party with the Groom

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    Some of the wonderful Tea Tent volunteers!

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    Framed!

     
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