Charity & Service
Part of the ethos of St Columba’s College is to be committed to charitable giving and action. Central to this is educating the whole community to an appreciation of the differing social and economic circumstances in the world, and an engagement in the ways and means of supporting those in some way disadvantaged.
The intention is to contribute our time and efforts to charitable organisations, locally and beyond, and to raise both funds and awareness of the College’s chosen charities. In this way, each student is expected to demonstrate “readiness to be of service to society,” in accordance with the key Columban quality of compassion and the College motto, Cor ad Cor Loquitur (‘Heart Speaking to Heart’).
We support and fundraise for many charities in the local community, such as Borehamwood foodbank, Watling View school and Open Door homeless shelter, as well as having established partnerships with St Francis School (A Brothers of the Sacred Heart School in Zambia), the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD). This focus creates a legacy and spirit of ownership. It provides clear evidence of the commitment the College has to living out its charitable traditions.
There are many charitable projects coordinated through Houses, the Columban Fayre, and by individual students. Below are some of the traditional charity causes.
One of our own pupils has led the way throughout his time in the Prep to raise both money and profile for the charity that has supported him and his family with living fully with his own condition. He has spoken honestly to audiences, explaining how he has to manage his condition in everyday life but also planned and delivered games and events enjoyed by the whole Prep community.
Each October the Prep celebrate the harvest liturgy by supporting our local Food Bank. Pupils learn about how their donations will help those in need and are challenged to contribute, collect, organise and deliver much needed resources.
Our Sixth Form students play an important part in leading and organising our efforts in all service projects. The highlight of their formation through service is Project Respond, a programme that was inaugurated in 1991 as a response to the needs of young people in the developing world. Over the years, St Columba’s College has had a twinning relationship with St Francis Secondary School in Malole, Zambia. Each year, fifteen to twenty Sixth Form students and members of staff travel to Zambia during the summer holiday to work in partnership with students from St Francis to complete various projects on their campus.
Over the years, our Sixth Form students have made enormous contributions to the health, security and comfort of the young people at St Francis by helping with building projects, sharing books and resources, and generally participating in the school community during trips undertaken each summer. At the same time, the pupils of St Francis each year bless the Project Respond students with their warm hospitality and friendship.
The College has worked closely with the Westminster Diocese branch of CAFOD (the Catholic Association for Overseas Development). CAFOD works with partners overseas and in the UK to reduce poverty.
The College has developed many successful, student-led projects including the very popular annual Inter-House Bake Off, as well as the Simple Meal and other campaigns for social justice. Over the past decade, the College has raised tens of thousands of pounds. Our ‘Sixth Form CAFOD Young Leaders’ have been at the forefront of campaigning and building links with other Sixth Form schools in the diocese.
Over the past seven years, students, staff and parents in the senior school, have raised funds for a local homeless shelter by taking part in an annual homeless sleepout at the College. This event is organised and run by Sixth Form students, and in 2023 £1,500 was raised for the local Open Door homeless shelter in St Albans. Students participate in immersive workshops to develop an insight into the complex issues of homelessness.
Each year, about 50 to 60 students participate in this fun activity taking place at the end of the Lent term.
During the Lent term, we have a tradition of collecting for our local foodbank and each year the efforts of the student community surpass our expectations. A group of Lower Sixth students make a research visit Borehamwood foodbank before launching collection as a House competition. We aim to raise over a tonne and in 2023 we achieved 1.3 tonnes.
According to Fr Dominic, Parish Priest of Borehamwood, “The Borehamwood Foodbank relies on the generosity of many donors to give us food for the people who come for help to feed their families. Over the past few years, St. Columba’s College has taken up the challenge to collect food for us. Their collections have made a great impact on our stock of food.”
Watling View & St Adrians’s Primary School
As part of the College’s links with the local community, Sixth Form students have been regularly volunteering for the past decade at Watling View, a local Special Educational Needs School.
On one afternoon each week, Sixth Form students work with groups of students at Watling View and assist pupils with a range of educational and physical disabilities. Inclusivity is the overriding ethos of the partnership and students from St Columba’s are regularly involved in activities as diverse as art and handicrafts, ICT and PE.
Students also offer voluntary work, such as individual literacy and reading support, at St Adrian’s Primary School.
Our Sixth Form have been involved in several local projects with local charity, Community1st, such as voluntary work with the Abbey Line Community Rail partnership and in local covid vaccine centres.