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45 (140) 2020
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The Responsible Rebound

Corporate Social Responsibility in Schools in the Time of Covid19

By Tom McGrath, principal, British Primary School of Wilanów
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British Primary School of Wilanow (BSW)is a values-centred school and our Walk of the Lion is the central philosophy around which our education provision is based. In the current situation where health concerns triumph charity initiatives, we are faced with the challenge of how to open our pupils’ eyes to the issues facing the world while ensuring pupils remain safe and healthy.

 

BSW has a number of regular charity and social initiatives and, for a number of years, we have been assisting Smile Warsaw in fundraising for their charity to assist Warsaw’s homeless; some of our older pupils have participated in the Sunday food programme. Smile Warsaw had to curtail and amend its activities in recent months though the demand for its services remain high.

Back in March 2020 when our school was forced to close due to government restrictions we were faced with a challenge on how to utilise our kitchens and our kitchen staff when the school was operating by distant learning. We contacted The Kulczyk Foundation to offer our kitchen resources, staff and space to a fitting and urgent need.

BSW teamed up with The Kulczyk Foundation Yellow Plate Initiative to prepare over 300 meals per day for needy children in Warsaw from April until July 2020. As state schools closed due to the pandemic these children were the unconsidered victims of this lockdown. These state schools had provided free school meals through their school canteens for these children and The Kulczyk Foundation had been funding this initiative. Now with the schools closed and the kitchens closed these children had no obvious way to access their only hot meal a day.

This is where BSW stepped in. Our kitchen staff prepared and packed nutritious meals for these children while The Kulczyk Foundation organised the logistics of delivery and distribution. Over the months of school closure BSW prepared over 10,000 meals for this worthy initiative.

Among our school community we had many offers of assistance and support. Our pupils, while learning distantly, also began to understand that it is the most marginalised in society who suffer most in a pandemic. They began to appreciate how lucky they really are where they do not need to worry about food.

The challenge of a pandemic from a social responsibility point of view, especially in schools, is to avoid schools retreating from the issues all around because of the perceived dangers. It is a challenge we continue to grapple with. We are taking more modest steps than we would have done a year ago but we still continue to address our social responsibilities. Creativity and flexibility is needed to live out our values.

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