The Year 8 students of TPS celebrated refugee week on June 22 with workshops run by the local charity, the Rural Refugee Network (RRN). 

Run by ex-TPS students Milly Jonas and Ed Lawrence, with RRN trustee Kath Lawrence, the activities focused on this year’s refugee week theme of compassion by helping students think about, understand and empathise with the experiences of refugees, particularly children.

Milly took the students through some facts and definitions before supporting the students to reflect on some refugees’ stories and think about what compassion means to them.

Year 8 then created a Post-it note display with their thoughts answering the questions, what does compassion mean to you, how can we create a culture of compassion, and how can we turn compassion into action.

They showed a deep sense of kindness and compassion for refugees and asylum seekers.

One student wrote “show people you care for them to brighten up their day, hopefully helping them be kind to others, therefore creating a ripple of kindness and compassion”, while another student wrote you could turn compassion into action “by making sure other people do what they love”.

The RRN was delighted to work with TPS history teacher and part of the student leadership team Hannah Barwell. She organised these workshops and helped the RRN run them smoothly.

She said: “We are so pleased to have the support of the Rural Refugee Network in marking Refugee Week as part of our Gamechangers sessions so that our students can develop their understanding of compassion and spending their time thinking about how to turn compassion into action.

“I couldn’t think of anything more game changing than this right now!”

Mark Marande, TPS principal, said: “We are delighted to be able to collaborate with the Rural Refugee Network in raising awareness of their important work.”

RRN trustee Kath Lawrence said: “It was great to see the positivity and enthusiasm with which the TPS students related to the theme and thought about what compassion would look like for refugees.

“The Rural Refugee Network brings a compassionate approach to helping and settling those fleeing conflict and violence, so that they are not alone while they find their feet in our local community.”

RRN volunteer and ex-TPS student Milly Jonas said: “It has been really interesting to come back to TPS and run the session, and I’ve really enjoyed engaging with the students and their ideas. This year’s refugee week has a brilliant theme and I am excited to see how the students can take this forward!”

This is the second year of Workshops run by the RRN in TPS and the RRN hope to run more in the future to raise awareness for the realities of the lives of refugees.

This is just a small part of the work they do across Hampshire to support refugees, for more information about the Rural Refugee Network visit their website.

By Ed Lawrence