No. 59: Sustainable Development Goals & our charity


SIAB ‘Blog in a Bag’ No. 59: The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals & our contribution as a charity

You may have heard us talk about the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), read about them on our website, or on social media posts – but what exactly are they and how does School in a Bag fit into them?

About the Sustainable Development Goals:

There are 17 SDGs, which have grown out of many years of work by countries and the United Nations (UN) and ‘adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015, provides a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future. At its heart are the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are an urgent call for action by all countries – developed and developing – in a global partnership. They recognize that ending poverty and other deprivations must go hand-in-hand with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth – all while tackling climate change and working to preserve our oceans and forests.’ *

The SDGs came into effect on the 1st January 2016, a ‘universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030’*. Basically, a 15-year target to reach the level of these goals that has been set as being achievable, yet a big step forward from where we are now. Different countries have different focuses on each SDG as some will affect them more than others (i.e. clean water in Great Britain isn’t an issue like it is in many African countries, but our climate action definitely needs work).


Here are the 17 SDGs:
As we’re all different learners, we’ve included the information in different formats: written, infographic and video so by all means skip to the one that works best for you, or take a look at them all:

Sustainable Development Goals

  • Goal 1. End poverty in all its forms everywhere
  • Goal 2. End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
  • Goal 3. Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
  • Goal 4. Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
  • Goal 5. Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
  • Goal 6. Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
  • Goal 7. Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
  • Goal 8. Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
  • Goal 9. Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
  • Goal 10. Reduce inequality within and among countries
  • Goal 11. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
  • Goal 12. Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
  • Goal 13. Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts*
  • Goal 14. Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development
  • Goal 15. Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss
  • Goal 16. Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
  • Goal 17. Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development

* Acknowledging that the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is the primary international, intergovernmental forum for negotiating the global response to climate change


Or watch the UN’s short video here

So now we know a little more about them, how do School in a Bag and the SDGs go together?

Well, through our work, we fit primarily into FOUR of the SDGs:

No. 2 – Zero Hunger
No. 4 – Quality Education
No. 6 – Clean Water and Sanitation
No. 9 – Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure


Zero hunger:

End hunger and ensure access by all people, in particular the poor and people in vulnerable situations, including infants, to safe, nutritious and sufficient food all year round.

In our very first SchoolBag project in Swaziland, the provision of eating utensils was paramount to the children being able to receive lunch – for so many, this was their only meal of the day. Tragically, if children had nothing to eat with, they were turned away from the dinner queue and went without. our SchoolBags have always had lunchboxes in them for this very reason.

In Nepal, the inclusion of a tiffin box in the SchoolBags mean that children can take their lunch to school – prior to this, children would go home at lunchtime and not return for afternoon classes.

The LunchBoxes and sporks provided by Light My Fire in our UK-packed SchoolBags do nine things: knife, fork, spoon, plate, bowl, LunchBox, learning resources – colour, shape and a stencil to trace around!


Quality Education:

Ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and effective learning outcomes. By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys have access to quality early childhood development, care and pre-primary education. By 2030, build and upgrade education facilities and substantially increase the supply of qualified teachers.

We know that SchoolBags make up a crucial part of the educational jigsaw and without the basic resources our contents provide, learning is minimised to children trying to remember information. Yet, the provision of resources is not included in the targets mapped out bu the UN. Our aim in the delivery decade from 2020 – 2030, is to champion the large agencies into working with is so that we can collectively provide education alongside building schools and training teachers.


Clean water and sanitation:

Achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all.

Support and strengthen the participation of local communities in improving water and sanitation management.

The water bottle in our SchoolBags are crucial for children staying hydrated, not only during the school hours but also on the lengthy journeys to and from school, that many of our children undertake.

Prior to receiving our SchoolBags, the children in The Gambia would crouch under the school stand pipe and collect water in their mouths before sitting off on their walk home in high temperatures. This caused litres of spillage, leaving standing water that became a breeding ground for insects and diseases. The children were shown how to fill up their bottles, which created less waste, and gave the children water for the lengthy walk home!

The recent addition of LifeStraws into some of our UK-packed SchoolBags adds to this, too. The clever invention of a simple, easy-to-use ‘straw’ means even the dirtiest water can be sucked up through the membrane micro filter, that cleanses the water before it enters the mouth clean. This opens up clean water everywhere – and the straws themselves, will do its job for 4,000 litres – if our beneficiaries consumed one litre a day, the LifeStraw will last them almost 11 years!


Industry, innovation and infrastructure:

Increase the access to small-scale industrial and other enterprises, in particular in developing countries, to financial services, including affordable credit, and their integration into value chains and markets.

By 2030, upgrade infrastructure and retrofit industries to make them sustainable, with increased resource-use efficiency and greater adoption of clean environmentally-sound technologies and industrial processes, with all countries taking action in accordance with their respective capabilities.

SchoolBags for some of our projects in Ghana, are made in association with Trashy Bags – an enterprising company that makes bags out of rubbish and recycled materials. The Trashy Bag SchoolBag rucksack is made from recycled water sachets collected from the storm drains by a handful of the TrashyBag employees. The sachets are cleaned, cup open on three sides to form strips, sewn into sheets and transformed into rucksacks by a team of seamstresses. the projects in a win, win, win – Ghanians are employed, the environment becomes cleaner and the children get a fantastic re-purposed SchoolBag…that’s very waterproof!

These are the main four SDGs our work fits into, but we also touch on some others too, including:

No. 3 – Good Health and Wellbeing – through the recent inclusion of our hygiene kits
No. 5 – Gender Equality – we never specify who our SchoolBags are for and they’re never made ‘gender-specific’ as we believe everyone has the right to go to school.

So, these are what the Sustainable Development goals are about, in a nut shell. It’s great that even though we’re only a small organisation, we can have a big impact on key global partnerships that all the UN countries are adhering to. It’s now less than nine years until the goals set need to be met, we’re in the ‘Delivery Decade’, and so far change is happening…We as a team will continue our efforts, and whenever we can make improvements to what we deliver, will do that too.If you would like to read about the SDG agenda in more detail, take a look at this link

Thanks for reading,
Team School in a Bag – Transforming lives through education

School in a Bag is a charity born out of the Piers Simon Appeal, a charity set-up by Founder & CEO, Luke Simon, in memory of his older brother Piers, who lost his life in the Boxing Day tsunami in 2004. To date, over 121,000 SchoolBags have been distributed to children in 47 countries around the world, giving them the necessary tools to be able to attend school and therefore have a lifeline out of poverty and hardship. Equally, if they have been affected by war or a natural disaster and had to flee their home, the SchoolBags provide the tools to be able to gain some stability and normality back in their lives by attending school. To see more of the work we do, please take a look at our website:


No. 58: Can You Become A Repeat Giving Hero?

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SIAB ‘Blog in a Bag’ No. 58: Can you become a Repeat Giving Hero?

Hello and welcome to an unprecedented second ‘Blog in a Bag’ (BIAB) this month. 

BIAB 57 released this time last week broke the very sad news that after much deliberation, Home Farm Fest would not be happening again this year thanks to the Coronavirus Pandemic.  Whilst we know it is bitterly disappointing and we will miss welcoming you all to Home Farm over the second weekend in June, we do feel it is the correct and sensible decision for us.

Our sadness has been lessened by the wonderful feedback and comments that we have received – you have certainly warmed our hearts over the last week and we feel inspired to put on the best Home Farm Fest possible in 2022 🙂

Our charity events:

Home Farm Fest is not only the biggest event that we run for our charity, it is also vitally important. The money that we generate from it is put towards funding us as an organisation. As a charity, we have become adept at the ‘beg and borrow’ mantra in order to help us function at the lowest expenditure but actually, running a charity is no different from running a business – it’s just that our income is not channelled in to profits but rather supporting those less fortunate than ourselves.

We still have the same running costs and Home Farm Fest is fundamental towards keeping us ticking. It contributes towards: financing our rental charges and numerous insurance policies, keeping our vehicles on the road, covering the costs of necessary group memberships, subscriptions and monthly tech platform payments, not to mention paying staff wages, HMRC tax payments and pensions. And that is before we have funded any projects or purchased any SchoolBag stock.

The charity:

In the past two years, we have transformed our organisation. We’ve put in place the governance, board, policies and reserves to strengthen our foundation and solidify our practices. Thank goodness that COVID didn’t strike before then as it may well have been a different story! We are keeping our heads above the water at the moment, but only just. The truth is this…the forced fallow years of Home Farm Fest along with the cancellation of our other signature ‘In-house’ events has left us with a huge deficit hole in funding…a hole the size of £190,000!  It’s a hole we need to try and fill and that is where we need your help (again!).

Other options…

The majority of the big charities raise their vast sums of money through supporters donating on a monthly basis. They have tens of thousands of donors, whose small contributions each month add up to a significant regular income that is guaranteed. Guaranteed revenue each month allows stability. It also enables organisations to plan and commit to fulfilling their remit with sustained certainty – add the one time, one-off donations on top of this and suddenly you have a model that enables the broadening and expansion of projects and programmes.

One of our favourite charities is US-based – charity:water. It has an incredible giving programme called ‘The Spring’ which, during the last 10 years has acquired over 35,000 monthly givers. The average donation is $33.00….THIRTY THREE DOLLARS!  Imagine $1,155,000 (£834,525) coming in to our bank account every month. We could fund 41,726…FORTY ONE THOUSAND, SEVEN HUNDRED AND TWENTY SIX SchoolBags each month!


School in a Bag currently have 23…TWENTY THREE monthly givers…and guess what…? We are on the hunt for more!

Repeat Giving Heroes!

So, could you join our current band of Repeat Giving Heroes – the ‘elite 23’ and contribute on a monthly basis to help? If so, it really doesn’t have to be the equivalent of $33.00 per month (although that would be lovely, wouldn’t it?). Small donations are so welcomed as they really do start to add up. We tend to think of it in terms of ‘what could you sacrifice each month? A cup of coffee? A bottle of wine? A magazine subscription or a treatment?

In the year of our Fifty4Fifty campaign, our target is to try and get a further 50 Repeat Giving Heroes signed up to support us on a monthly basis. Whilst we would be so grateful if you agreed that your contribution could go in to the pot to help start plugging that Home Farm Fest deficit hole, it can of course go towards funding SchoolBags. Either way, you will be helping us carry on our life-changing work of transforming lives through education.

Lastly, as a nation we have all just experienced the challenge of home schooling and being ‘teacher’. Imagine this experience without any learning resources whatsoever: no internet, no technological devices and no paper, pens or pencils. This is the scenario faced by so many of the children and teachers we support around the world through School in a Bag, and that is why our desire to accrue more Repeat Giving Heroes is so desperately needed.

The children at a nursery school in The Gambia shared chalk and little blackboards prior to receiving our SchoolBags.  The SchoolBag contents transformed the way the children could learn and teachers could teach.

You can sign-up here…now…!

To sign-up to become a Repeat Giving Hero, please click here. To let us know how you would like your contribution utilised; for either operational costs or SchoolBags, please email us at: [email protected]. All new Repeat Giving Heroes will be sent a School in a Bag pin badge so that you can proudly show off your support of our work.

And finally, finally, if you do sign-up to support us on a monthly basis and you use social media, don’t be shy of posting about the Hero you have just become – you never know, it may just inspire someone else to follow your lead.

Thank you in anticipation.
Team School in a Bag – Transforming lives through education

School in a Bag is a charity born out of the Piers Simon Appeal, a charity set-up by Founder & CEO, Luke Simon, in memory of his older brother Piers, who lost his life in the Boxing Day tsunami in 2004. To date, over 121,000 SchoolBags have been distributed to children in 47 countries around the world, giving them the necessary tools to be able to attend school and therefore have a lifeline out of poverty and hardship. Equally, if they have been affected by war or a natural disaster and had to flee their home, the SchoolBags provide the tools to be able to gain some stability and normality back in their lives by attending school. To see more of the work we do, please take a look at our website:


No. 57: Having to postpone our music festival…again

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SIAB ‘Blog in a Bag’ No. 57: Having to postpone our biggest annual fundraiser…again

It’s with heavy hearts we’ve decided that postponing our biggest annual fundraiser, Home Farm Fest, is the most sensible decision with the current situation as it stands. This is the second year we’ve had to do it (we never dreamed we’d have to do it again after last year), but here we are a year later…

We’ve put together a statement with our reasons why we’ve chosen this option. Please have a read:


Home Farm Fest 15 is postponed again – this time until 2022

When we had to bring the sad news that Home Farm Fest was postponed last year, we never imagined we would be having to do it again this year, but we, the School in a Bag team and Home Farm Fest Committee, have had to make the difficult decision to move it once more, this time to the 10th – 12th June 2022.

This has almost been a harder decision to make, due to the government’s announcement last week of dates being worked towards easing lockdown. Their ultimate goal to allow gatherings is 21st June, which is obviously after our second week of June date that we hold Home Farm Fest, and whilst there is an option of moving the date to later in the summer, there are many reasons why we feel this still isn’t the right solution for us. Here’s our thinking:

  1. We want to put on an event that is safe and does not put people’s health at risk! 

This is our absolute priority and the safety of our punters, performers and volunteers is paramount.  Whilst we all hope that vaccination program continues its rapid rollout and the ‘ R’ number remains low once the restrictions start to be lifted, there is no guarantee we will be COVID free after June 21st and we would hate to be held accountable for running an event that helped spread the virus and increased infection transmissions.

  1. We cannot afford to put on a festival that jeopardises the reputation of the festival or the charity

Naturally, if the above scenario were to happen, it could have lasting damaging consequences not only for the future of Home Farm Fest but also School in a Bag and that is a risk we are not prepared to gamble on.

  1. We cannot afford to plan and invest in a festival that we cannot guarantee will go ahead

Putting on Home Farm Fest is not only a huge commitment of time for our small team and countless volunteers but also a vast investment of money for our charity.  School in a Bag has taken a big hit in lost revenue from cancelled events courtesy of COVID and whilst we have managed to stabilise the charity through our new online platforms, we are not prepared to invest in an event that we cannot guarantee will bring us the expected financial return.

As a festival committee and charity board, we feel it is more important to keep the charity afloat and will therefore concentrate on the processes and platforms we have put in place to help us adjust and hopefully get through the pandemic.

  1. We do not want to put on a festival that compromises the spirit of Home Farm Fest.

Home Farm Fest is a relaxed, family flowing festival with a variety of stages and attractions that allow intimate social interaction and integration.  It’s what we, and those, who attend have grown to love and expect.  Putting on a compromised festival that could have restrictions to the flow, movement and management of people is not something we are prepared to work towards.

  1. We want to give performers, suppliers, traders and volunteers the heads up now

We feel it’s important that we make our decision now, rather than waiting. This will give our musicians and stage teams the opportunity to try and get other gigs, market traders to find other events and ticket holders to make decisions, too. (see later)

  1. Why not move Home Farm Fest to later in the year?

With the level of excitement about the 21st June (be assured, we’re just as excited!), there will be so many events, parties, gigs, gatherings, missed birthday celebrations, weddings etc organised meaning the market will be absolutely saturated. With the UK summer extending to mid-September at best, that doesn’t leave many weekends for everyone to do everything they’re planning. For us to make HFF viable, we need to sell 3,500 tickets and with most people juggling their weekends going to all their social events, we can’t afford to lose out on our regular ticket sales and have fewer people attend.

Home Farm Fest has always been such a huge part of School in a Bag. Last year really shook us when we couldn’t hold it. We love having everyone joining us at our charity HQ; the atmosphere and fun times the weekend brings with it. Whilst not having is for another year is so disappointing, there is a reality that is driving our decision and we feel that if we postpone it once more now, we will be able to come back with a great festival next year – and HFF15 will finally happen!

Events Home Farm Fest

Our plans for 2022

We made a commitment to our performers, sponsors, volunteers, stage teams etc that the postponed Home Farm Fest of 2020 would be replicated this year and therefore we want to honour this commitment in 2022. It is inevitable that over a two-year period some aspects will have changed, and we will adapt accordingly for next year.

So many of you were incredible at rolling over your HFF2020 ticket which at a time of real uncertainty, helped give the charity such peace of mind.  If you have a ticket that you purchased for HFF2020, this will continue to rollover to HFF2022. We would absolutely love your support in keeping your ticket and blocking out the 10th – 12th June 2022 in your diaries for HFF now!

Not only will this feel like a ‘free’ festival by the time it comes around as the money spent purchasing your ticket will be long gone, but also, you’ll have ended up getting them at a cheaper rate as there will be a natural increase in ticket prices for next year (not a huge amount as we don’t believe in hiking prices up dramatically, but there will be an increment).

If however you need to be refunded your HFF15 tickets, please email us and we will of course honour this. The refunding of tickets does have a window and that is until Friday 30th April. We feel this is an appropriate length of time to decide what you would like to do.

As per last year and keeping with the positives, from an agricultural point of view, our local farmers who cut the grass on the festival site unseasonably early will this year again be able to get a much fuller yield for their cattle – making them happy for a second year!

Have we contacted everyone?

Yes. Everyone who’s integral to running HFF, all ticket holders, performers, traders and volunteers have all been notified individually and this post through our social media platforms is to let the wider community know as well.

Has the ticket money already been spent?

No. The ticket money is held in our Eventbrite account (our ticket management platform) meaning that we can reimburse all the ticket holders if necessary. To be completely open and honest, rolling the tickets over gives us such a good and positive head start on ticket sales next year, and means current holders don’t have to worry about buying them.  And of course, not having to reimburse tickets will save us a vast amount of time!! We would never deny someone who wants their money back though, and the reason for only giving a specified time to do so is so that there’s complete segregation between tickets already sold, and us putting the tickets for next year’s festival on sale.

So, what’s the future?

The future is bright! We have some exciting new leads for School in a Bag in place and whilst we are still adjusting to the new platforms that we now use to promote ourselves, our support base is growing well beyond our local catchment area thanks to the online world.

To date, we’ve distributed over 121,000 SchoolBags in 47 countries, and this number continues to grow. One thing that has become absolutely clear from the partners around the world who we work with to implement our projects is this…. the need for SchoolBags now is greater than ever.

Home Farm Fest is such an important part of our overall operation and this is the reason why we have to guarantee it can go ahead and raise the sums of money that it does.  We are disappointed we won’t be seeing you at Home Farm once again this year, but are looking forward already to delivering HFF2022 where you can help us surpass the £500,000 raised since the inception of the festival.


Of course, everyone loves good feedback, but if you have any negative feelings towards what we’re doing, or how we’re doing it, please let us know directly by emailing us: [email protected] and we will answer any questions or thoughts you have. Negativity on social media isn’t what anyone wants or needs. As we said, we’re a small team and Home Farm Fest is only a part of what we do and we are dealing with this on-going situation as best we can.

Lastly, we’d like to say an almighty thank you to EVERYONE involved in Home Farm Fest and despite it not having happened for over a year now, we get included in some lovely social media posts from people looking forward to its return. We feel very positive about 2022, we have exciting new plans we can’t wait to share, and after two unplanned fallow years, we will come back so ready to bring you HFF15!

Keep safe and we look forward to being in a field with you in June 2022…
The HFF and SIAB team: Luke and Zoë


Thank you for taking the time to read our statement. As you can see, not an easy decision, but an important one.

We look forward to hosting HFF again next June, but in the meantime need to focus on fundraising in other ways to help make up for the loss from the festival revenue.

Team School in a Bag & Home Farm Fest

School in a Bag is a charity born out of the Piers Simon Appeal, a charity set-up by Founder & CEO, Luke Simon, in memory of his older brother Piers, who lost his life in the Boxing Day tsunami in 2004. To date, over 121,000 SchoolBags have been distributed to children in 46 countries around the world, giving them the necessary tools to be able to attend school and therefore have a lifeline out of poverty and hardship. Equally, if they have been affected by war or a natural disaster and had to flee their home, the SchoolBags provide the tools to be able to gain some stability and normality back in their lives by attending school. To see more of the work we do, please take a look at our website:


Give a Mother’s Day Gift that has the Power to Change Lives

Give a Mother's Day Gift that has the Power to Change Lives

💐Sunday 14th March is Mother’s Day 💐
Mother’s Day is a chance to celebrate, and reflect, on these wonderful people who guide and nurture us through life. Giving cards and presents is a token of our appreciation; a bunch of flowers, a box of chocolates. How about this year, give a gift that will inspire, instead..
Give your Mum a unique, trackable SchoolBag funded in her name (which you can add a personal note to as well). This will not only will it make her smile, it’ll make a child somewhere in the world smile too, when they’re given the tools they need to be able to get an education ❤️🎒
Click here to fund a SchoolBag for your mum! You can add a note when going through the purchasing process that we then write in the gift card.  We can even send it directly to her – this makes it super easy if you don’t live near your mum. If you’d prefer, have the card sent to you so you can add all the personal touches, this is fine too, just make sure you put your address in the order 🙂
Thank you for supporting our work. Without funding from people like you, we cannot distribute our SchoolBags. Globally there are 252 million children who are deprived of an education, and we aim to help as many of these children as we can – we feel that no child should be without the chance to learn.
Education matters.
Mother's Day 2021

No. 56: Fundraising Challenge – 2021: Fifty 4 Fifty

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‘Blog in a Bag’ No 56: Fundraising Challenge 2021

As we continue to adjust and acclimatise to a virtual world of raising money, 2021 marks a special year for School in a Bag and to commemorate it, we bring you the Fifty4Fifty Challenge!

Why the Fifty4Fifty Challenge?

For those of you new to School in a Bag, the charity was born out of the Piers Simon Appeal, a charity set up in memory of Piers who tragically died in the Indian Ocean Tsunami on Boxing Day in 2004.  Born in 1971, Piers would be turning 50 years old on May 28th and to acknowledge his half century milestone, the Fifty4Fifty Challenge invites you to fundraise based around the number 50.

How does it work?

The aim is to create a challenge that is personal and hopefully achievable to you personally or as a group.

You may chose to make number 50 the total of what you set out to conquer – for example, with SchoolBags distributed to children in 46 countries the target for Team School in a Bag is to get in to our 50th country by the end of the year. In addition, Founder and CEO Luke’s challenge is to try and run a 50 miler in the summer and raise enough money to fund 50 SchoolBags in the process.

Another way to tackle your Fifty4Fifty Challenge could be to set yourself 50 repetitions of an activity – you could do it on a weekly basis or do it consecutively over 50 days. Or for those striving to improve will power, how about giving a vice or habit up for 50 minutes, 50 days or 50 minutes each day??

The key is to: 

  • Make it bespoke to you and your abilities
  • Plan a challenge that you can realistically achieve
  • Make sure it’s FUN…(remember it makes up the first three letters in FUNdraising!)
  • Raise money to fund numbered, trackable SchoolBags

And remember, your challenge does not need to be of a physical nature.  You might set yourself a challenge to read 50 pages of a book each day, play an instrument for 50 minutes each week, learn 50 new words or save your 50 pence pieces for a whole year. 

Whilst the target is always to raise money for SchoolBags (imagine if you could fund 50 SchoolBags from your challenge!!), we have often found that challenges that offer some self improvement at the end of the process generate a greater incentive and are more memorable. And for those of you, like Piers, who are turning 50 this year, well, you’ve got an obvious challenge…how about asking for donations instead of presents?

OK, I’m in…how do I sign up?

Click the button below to set up the online fundraising page for your Fifty4Fifty Challenge and follow the instructions below….


Remember to let us know about your Fifty4Fifty Challenge so that we can help promote it too.  Naturally, in this current climate the obvious way to fundraise is digitally but if you do want a paper sponsorship form, please do email us at: [email protected]

Good luck and have fun with your Fifty4Fifty.  Please, please observe and adhere to the current COVID guidelines and restrictions when you tackle your challenge and thank you in advance for helping our continual mission of Transforming Lives Through Education.Team

Team School in a Bag – Transforming lives through education

School in a Bag is a charity born out of the Piers Simon Appeal, a charity set-up by Founder & CEO, Luke Simon, in memory of his older brother Piers, who lost his life in the Boxing Day tsunami in 2004. To date, over 121,000 SchoolBags have been distributed to children in 46 countries around the world, giving them the necessary tools to be able to attend school and therefore have a lifeline out of poverty and hardship. Equally, if they have been affected by war or a natural disaster and had to flee their home, the SchoolBags provide the tools to be able to gain some stability and normality back in their lives by attending school. To see more of the work we do, please take a look at our website:


Looking for an Online Speaker?

Looking for an Online Speaker?


✔️ Looking for a speaker for your service group?
✔️ Want to set-up an online fundraising activity for your business and kick-start it with a presentation that can be zoomed out to staff working at home?
✔️ Want to set-up a fundraising project with children at school?

Then we can help! Here’s how:

  • We can present anywhere!
  • Inspirational and motivational
  • They can be the length of time you desire
  • Incorporate a Q&A session – we find these are really useful!
  • Help with fundraising ideas and initiatives
  • Create a presentation to your style (more relaxed or formal, depending on what you’re after)
We present using the Zoom platform so we can show our slides and videos as we normally would with a ‘live’ presentation. It’s easiest if there’s a host from the group, school or business who allow their guests in, and then pass the reins to us to speak. The host can then introduce and Chair the Q&A session if preferred, otherwise we are happy to.
Our presentations are normally around 30-40 minutes long, with Q&A added to that, but we can accommodate to what’s needed. We also have the option to tailor our talk if there’s a specific theme that your group are following/studying. Such themes may be sustainability, certain countries we work in, the Sustainable Development Goals, tsunamis, or you may have an idea you’d like to talk through. Our general presentation covers a number of topics naturally through the work we do, and how we do it.

To contact us:

Please email: [email protected] to book in a presentation, or for more information!
SIAB online presentation with speaker

Put Your Heart into Education This Valentine’s Day!

Put Your Heart into Education This Valentine’s Day!

What better gift for your loved one this Valentine’s Day, than a unique, numbered, trackable SchoolBag in their name. By doing so, you’ll give a child somewhere in the world the tools they need for an education, too!

Simply click the link below, write a short, personal message you’d like to leave for the person who’ll receive the gift, and once we have the email address to send it to, they’ll receive an eGift Card (with your message in) letting them know about their special present. They then track their unique SchoolBag number via the ‘Track my Bag’ section you can see pop up on this website 🙂

Gift your SchoolBag to a loved one, here!

What a SchoolBag means to a child

A SchoolBag is filled with stationery, eating utensils and most recently a hygiene kit. The stationery gives the more obvious tools to be able to do school work, and for many it’s the first time they’ve had a pencil to write with and paper to write on. Some children have nothing at all and have to memorise numbers and words – imagine just how difficult that would be. Alongside books for writing, drawing and maths, they also receive colouring pencils, biros, a ruler, a maths set with a compass, big rubber and pencil sharpener.

The water bottle means they can actually carry water with them (some children walk many miles to school, often in intense heat) and also a lunchbox to either take food to school, or to be able to have lunch at school (the first SchoolBags went to Swaziland, now known as Eswatini, where if the children didn’t have a plate or bowl, they were turned away from the lunch queue so would end up with no food – probably for the whole day as many were orphans). Our hygiene kits contain soap, a flannel, toothbrush, toothpaste and a face mask. It’s so important alongside education, children can keep themselves clean as well, and these simple items do just that.

All these contents, along with the all-important SchoolBag itself, comes to just £20 (and that includes getting it right to the child). If we can give a child the tools, they can then learn and grow – and who knows where it may take them. Today’s children are tomorrow’s leaders.

SIAB’s Valentine’s Competition!

Here’s what you’ve got to do…
1️⃣. Create your own poem in the ‘Roses are red’ format (please keep them clean, or we will have to delete them)
2️⃣. Post your poem in the comments on our Twitter, Facebook or Insta pages or email us: [email protected]
3️⃣. The competition starts now, and runs until midnight on the 11th February 2021
4️⃣. The winner will be able to gift a #SchoolBag in a loved one’s name, courtesy of us (worth £20)
5️⃣. Be fab if you can share this post!
6️⃣. It’s free to enter, and has no association with any social media platform
7️⃣. You can enter as many times as you like
8️⃣. Our decision of who the winner is, is final
9️⃣. There is no cash alternative for the prize
If you’re not a poet, you can always Gift a SchoolBag in your loved one’s name right here
Valentines Day 2021Girl with SchoolBag in NepalChild in Gambia with SchoolBag

Are You a Mask(ed) Hero? Find out more here!

Are You a Mask(ed) Hero?

With the recent introduction of hygiene kits (flannel, soap, toothbrush and toothpaste) into our SchoolBags as an additional item alongside the stationery items and eating utensils, it became important to add a face mask too due to the current worldwide situation. You can read more about the inclusion of our hygiene kits in this Blog in a Bag from December 2020.

Even with the extra contents, we are still able to keep the cost of our bags at £20, which is a fantastic result for us. To enable us keep these costs down, we’re asking the sewists* amongst you if you’re able to help us out by making some face masks to put in our SchoolBags? Not only that, but the variety of masks in the SchoolBags will be such fun for the children! They can be any coloured material and elastic, but ideally we’d love you to follow our pattern so there’s continuity (plus we’ve tested them out on children of different ages and they’ve come up trumps).

The pattern (below) is in an easy-to-follow template with all the instructions you should need. Please make sure your seams are nice and strong, with a double stitch if necessary. We want them to last wear and washing for as long as possible, for the children using them.

School in a Bag face mask template

Please share the pattern, and let us know if you’re making any. We’d love to hear from you!

Email us ([email protected]) if you have any questions about the pattern, or making the masks.

Please post your completed face masks to:

School in a Bag

Home Farm

Chilthorne Domer


BA22 8RD

We look forward to receiving them, and of course putting them in our next consignment of UK-packed SchoolBags, ready to be shipped!

*Sewist – a blend of ‘sew’ and ‘artist’ as writing ‘sewer’ could be misconstrued, especially by Google‘s SEO and we’ll end up being placed alongside articles about drains, which we don’t want! We rather like this term 🙂

Masks for SchoolBagsMasks for SchoolBagsMasks for SchoolBags

No. 55: End of Year Review – School in a Bag’s 2020

SIAB ‘Blog in a Bag’ No. 55: End of Year Review – 2020


In early January, our calendar was already full and 2020 look set to be a great year of fundraising, promotion and operations as we worked to continue our mission of Transforming (more) Lives Through Education.  Our new schools presentations at headteacher conferences widened our network and we had lots of new schools lined up to engage with, we added new corporate connections: Salesforce, South Somerset District Council One Team Showcase and Successful Women in Business to our existing brilliant partnerships with Blake Envelopes and SAP Fieldglass and Home Farm Fest 15 was taking shape with tweaks and new features.  Meanwhile, our governance refresh of shrinking the Piers Simon Appeal down to a small set up in order to make School in a Bag a standalone charity with a Trading Subsidiary bolted on was almost complete.  From an operations point of view, we had projects lined up in many of the existing countries that we support and new potential partnerships on the horizon, whilst the 40’ high top container filled with 1128 SchoolBags, learning resources, over 600 pairs of shoes and school furniture loaded in the yard at HQ bound for The Gambia was on the vessel and due to arrive in the third week of March.


Season’s greetings to you all.  2020…what a year hey? A year that most of us will be glad to move on from. And, given the very different year with so many of our events and usual fundraising processes put on hold, you could be entitled to expect a rather shorter review this year! However, for Team School in a Bag, the pandemic has created change and forced change…and this round-up will highlight those that we have implemented and those that we are working on as we adapt to the new conditions to continue our life-changing work for thousands of children around the world.

Salesforce employees packing SchoolBags on the Ohana Floor in the Salesforce Tower.  On the 29th floor, the views of the city were amazing!

South Somerset District Council employees packing SchoolBags at the One Team Showcase Event where SIAB CEO Luke Simon was the keynote speaker.

Hmmm, the third week in March – a week, when the Coronavirus that we had been watching on the news channels for two months finally reached our shores, got a grip on our nation and rather quickly shut it down.  The changing guidelines from those first daily briefings had us penning ideas for variations of how we could work, including a pared down Home Farm Fest until the reality kicked in and inevitably, we were forced to announce that our signature fundraiser, which helps fund us as an organisation could no longer go ahead. Our optimism of using this new time to ‘bring ideas on the backburner to fruition’ lasted all of a week as the realism of home schooling whilst trying to work was simply not feasible.  The plan, make use of the Government Retention Scheme by furloughing the team but keep CEO and Founder Luke on a 50% workload and salary to keep the charity ticking over.  The crash diet of our outgoings and expenditure in mid-March was of paramount importance for sustaining immediate cashflow in the unpredictable times ahead and with three of the team of four furloughed, we were momentarily able to tread water and take stock.
Now…the question was…how does a public facing charity that runs events, interacts with society and visits establishments to promote its work raise funds during a lockdown?  As the real world became accustomed to the virtual, digital world for contact, we quickly promoted the online platforms that we had (read more here) and following an article in Trail magazine outlining a virtual 3 Peaks Challenge on a staircase, Luke felt that the post on social media encouraging the idea needed to backed up with action.
The target: to summit the equivalent height elevation of all three mountains in one attempt to raise money for our partners around the world who were trying to home school in very different conditions to the luxury of our online experience.  Thanks to the generosity of our supporters, we were able to make grants of £400.00 available to our partners – to read their stories, please click  here.  Their gratitude was heart-warming, but the overriding feedback was that they needed more.  How do you top the 3 Peaks?  Well, you go to the biggest mountain that you can: Everest…and once again, on May 29th our online community were very generous in supporting the 24hr challenge to summit the 4,023 flights of steps to the roof of the world (well, the mezzanine to the office) to raise more funds.

Quite brilliantly, others were joining the virtual fundraising challenge, championing our cause and by the time the second weekend in June had arrived, mini Home Farm Fest tributes in back gardens were the inspiration for raising funds and keeping School in a Bag in the social media spotlight. Read about them and the Everest Staircase Challenge here.

More often than not, it is hard to step out of the sphere of your work –  it’s inevitable really… you are fully immersed in a daily routine, working to a calendar of yearly events all built in to a model that has grown organically over the last decade and it is difficult to step away and look back at your model with any real clarity or scrutiny.  Strangely enough, COVID has forcibly afforded us this opportunity to stop, process and analyse our organisation where in normal circumstances, we simply would not have had the time or mindset to do it.

As accustomed as we are now to the digital world, we were certainly lacking in this department pre-COVID – our website was out of date, did not convert well onto mobile/tablet platforms and made fundraising rather one dimensional.  In addition, our trusty old database, built on dated software which was a step up from ‘the spreadsheet’ is now struggling with the sheer volume of SchoolBags and information we have on it.  So, it was time to get designing…and with the fantastic and patient guidance from our developers Cetast, we are very proud of the new website which gives a informative overview of our work (backed up with strong images and video clips), a comprehensive donate page offering donors variety in how they support us and a shop (more about this later!).

Check it out for yourselves here.  We are more than excited to now be working with Cetsat once again to build a bespoke database for our SchoolBag beneficiaries and donors which will not only streamline the process of crediting SchoolBags, running reports and analysing data but also provide us better donor integration, something the team has been lacking over the years.  So you’ll be delighted to know that you might be hearing from us on more personal levels in 2021 

The schools reopening in September coincided rather nicely with the easing of regulations in some of our partner countries and we are able to announce that SchoolBag distributions were back.  We are always in awe of our amazing partners around the world who help us realise our mission but our respect for them is overflowing as they have juggled COVID regulations and windows of openings in between lockdowns to coordinate our projects and distribute SchoolBags.  We are delighted that in the latter half of the year, collectively, we have been able to provide SchoolBags to children in:

Nepal:                          316 (105 + 199 + 12)
Tanzania:                     584 (75 + 400 + 109)
The Gambia:               1128
Guinea Bissau:            240 (Country 46)

And we have SchoolBag consignments being packed and In Transit to:

Georgia:                      240 (Country 47)
Ghana:                        400
Lebanon:                     250 (Country 48)
Nepal:                         124
Sierra Leone:               240

Children in Guinea Bissau, West Africa (Country 46) with their SchoolBags – in association with Humanity First

In the Autumn, we announced that COVID time had also made us re-evaluate the contents of our SchoolBags and introduced the exciting inclusion of the LifeStraw to guarantee clean, safe, potable drinking water for our beneficiaries.  The report also stated that our new Hygiene Kits were on the way and we are delighted that the first have been packed in to our SchoolBags ready for shipping to Sierra Leone and Lebanon.  The Hygiene Kit comprising a bar of soap, a flannel, a toothbrush, toothpaste and a washable face mask all housed in a small water-resistant bag is a necessary inclusion as it helps combat the spread of COVID but also promotes good oral hygiene, something that many of the children we support are lacking.
The Hygiene Kit also continues our alignment with the Sustainable Development Goals and adds SDG No. 3: Good Health and Well-Being to the list that we are helping to tackle around the world.  From a business point of view, it also opens up a wider catchment of grant funding now that our SchoolBags are compliant towards tackling COVID.  We are indebted to our corporate patrons Beechfield Brands Limited for providing the bags free of charge and the heroes who are making the wonderful facemasks which are steadily arriving at Home Farm.

November and December are usually big months for us as we dip our toes into the world of retail with a pop-up shop in our home town shopping centre and prepare for the 18hr Big Bag Pack in Tesco, Yeovil and our annual Boxing Day Walk, all events that rely on face to face contact and personal interaction.  Sadly, COVID put stop to these events in their usual format which gave us the chance to run them virtually.

Tesco kindly put static collection displays in store which we customised and added a QR code enabling donors to pay through their smart phones, walkers blew away the Christmas day cobwebs by doing their own walk donating via the website and facebook and our online pop-up shop inviting people to fund SchoolBags for Christmas blew us away with 426 SchoolBags funded up until December 22nd.  In fact, people are still funding SchoolBags now which is simply wonderful.

Despite the year being compromised, December saw us reach the next milestone of having distributed 120,000 SchoolBags since our inception in 2009 and we are grateful to everyone is has helped us get this far.

For the most part, COVID has not been as perilous for School in a Bag as it has for other charities.  To our fortune, we have good reserves from being sensible over the past two years and we have used the time to adapt to the new conditions that we now live with.  One could argue that these were overdue for us and we certainly see some of the new ways of working continuing, even if we do get back to a life of social interaction. However, the inevitability of change coupled with the expectation of an impending recession forced the realisation that some facets within our work would cease to be available.
Uncertainty has been one of the big challenges that COVID has created and with the roles that Charlotte (Finance Operations Officer) and Lis (School Liaison Officer) undertook for the team completely compromised, they both very sensibly put the feelers out for guaranteed work. We are delighted that both found fantastic full-time positions that complement their skills sets in new organisations immediately.  Both Charlotte and Lis were amazing members of the SIAB family who were instrumental in getting the charity to where we are today with 120,460 SchoolBags delivered to children in 46 countries.  We wish them both the very best of luck in their new roles – thank you.

So, four and a half have now become two and a half as we have welcomed Zoë and Louise back to work – for now our roles are rather more merged and we are still working through some of the backlog so please accept apologies and bear with us.  But in essence our time is split between promoting our ethos, fundraising, analysing our output, strategising our future and alignment towards the Sustainable Development Goals and deciding what projects we can realistically fund.  Whilst change has been subjected upon us, I am proud of the advances we have made (and continue to make) in adapting, delighted with the projects that we have completed and implemented in constrained circumstances and excited about what the digital world holds for us as we move tentatively in to 2021.

Thank you so much to everyone who has supported us during this unprecedented time – we are always grateful but doubly so this year.  It has also been wonderful to see so many new subscribers sign up to receive our news through the website pop-up – welcome to the School in a Bag network. We look forward to a time when we can see you all again in person but for now, we wish you all a healthy and happier New Year.

Yule tide regards,
Luke and Team SIAB



School in a Bag is a charity born out of the Piers Simon Appeal, a charity set-up by Founder & CEO, Luke Simon, in memory of his older brother Piers, who lost his life in the Boxing Day tsunami in 2004. To date, over 120,000 SchoolBags have been distributed to children in 46 countries around the world, giving them the necessary tools to be able to attend school and therefore have a lifeline out of poverty and hardship. Equally, if they have been affected by war or a natural disaster and had to flee their home, the SchoolBags provide the tools to be able to gain some stability and normality back in their lives by attending school. To see more of the work we do, please take a look at our website:



SIAB’s (Virtual) Boxing Day Walk 2020

Virtual Boxing Day Walk 2020

We didn’t want to abandon our annual Boxing Day Walk this year, but with restrictions in place, we can’t do it our usual way. Therefore, we are running a virtual walk, meaning anyone can join us, from anywhere in the world – how exciting!

Our Boxing Day walk is a chance to remember Piers (our Founder & CEO’s brother), and all the others who also lost their lives in the Indian Ocean tsunami on Boxing Day 2004. It’s also a time to get out of the house and walk off your Christmas indulgences – as well as an opportunity to celebrate the year’s achievements of the charity.

Our normal walk is from our charity HQ in Chilthorne Domer nr Yeovil, to the beautiful National Trust property, Montacute House, and back (about 6 miles). It’s a chance to meet old friends and new, and maybe even have a sneaky tipple along the way! There’s no reason to change elements of this (we highly recommend the tipple!).

As this is usually a small fundraiser for us, we’re also asking that a donation of £10 is made per family/friend group to SIAB (obviously if you’re able to donate more, that would be amazing!)

So, here’s the idea for this year:

1. Decide on a walk route (could be from your house, or a short drive away)

2. Depending on Tier structures where you live, you may be able to grab a couple more friends to join in!

3. Make your £10+ donation to School in a Bag here  (please put in the notes that it’s for the Virtual Walk, so we can track it)

4. We always have a minute’s silence at 10.36am (the time the tsunami struck the island of Phi Phi where Luke and Piers were), so if you’d like to join in on that, it would be very special

5. Take photos and tag us in (Facebook * Instagram * Twitter) so we can join in and see your fun, too!

Boxing Day Virtual Walk 2020