Caritas Schools Dragons' Den 2019
9th April 2019
On 28th March, seven schools gathered at St Bede's, Basingstoke, for the fourth annual Dragon's Den event organised by Caritas in the diocese. It was another exciting and inspiring day with three primary schools and four secondary schools bidding for a share of an investment pot of £2,800! The panel of friendly dragons was Fr PJ Smith (Episcopal Vicar for Education), Edmund Adamus (Diocesan Schools Commissioner), Fr Chris Rutledge (St Bede's Parish Priest) and Toby Longhurst (Catholic Students Society, University of Southampton).
The aim of the event is to encourage and support schools to develop projects that will bring tangible benefits to their local community, especially those in need. The Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy are a key criteria for evaluating the projects. Each school had an opportunity to present their project idea to the dragons and explain who will benefit and how they will use any funds they receive. The range of projects was diverse and everyone presented with energy and enthusiasm even if some were a little nervous beforehand!
The "home team" of St Bede's Primary, Basingstoke went first and presented "Mercycraft" - regular visits to a local care home plus visits by residents to the school. St Swithun's Primary, Portsmouth presented a plan to develop an outside prayer area and St Amand's, Wantage presented "Project Stirling" - giving time and talents to the residents of the local Stirling residential home.
Then the secondary schools had a chance to present their ideas. Blessed Hugh Farringdon, Reading presented a project to develop a prayer garden and handed out examples of painted rocks with prayers written on them. The Bethany Group from Bishop Challoner, Basingstoke presented how they help students and their families remember and talk about deceased loved ones. All Hallows, Farnham presented their plans for refurbishing their school chapel and included video interviews of staff and students. And St George College, Southampton presented their idea for a second hand uniform store to help families with the cost of buying all the items of uniform needed.
All the schools were successful in their bids with some getting all the funds they asked for and some getting a contribution. In addition we had updates from all the schools who took part last year. It was wonderful to see how their projects had progressed and the joy that comes from serving others - both for the givers and the receivers.
Grateful thanks to the Dragons, to the team at St Bede's Church for making us so welcome again, to Isaac Withers from the Diocesan Comms team for managing the technology for the presentations and finally to Roger Lillie and all the Catenians who again have supported this initiative both financially and with volunteer mentors for the schools taking part.
Next year's Caritas Schools Dragons' Den is provisionally scheduled for Thursday 26 March 2020. If you'd like to know more and receive a briefing pack, please contact Gerry Penfold. And if you'd like to hear more about the work of Caritas in the Diocese and how to get involved, please contact Kevin Gallagher.