Friends of Hewett Academy, Norwich become fabulous fundraisers to help their school community

Key summary

If you’re looking for an inspiring story, look no further. A quick browse of the Facebook hashtag #HewettKidsCan brings a sense of pride and admiration to us at Parentkind HQ. Since three mums started Friends of Hewett Academy in Norwich in September 2019, the group has raised over £150,000 through grant fundraising. Here, one of the founding members, Rebecca Atkinson tells us more…

Fabulous fundraising

“We’ve not been going long, but it’s great to see what a difference we can make in a school”, Rebecca explains. “I have some experience in fundraising through my work, which has been really useful, but the help we got from the Membership Support Team at Parentkind has also been invaluable – getting started, adopting a constitution, getting access to Grants4Schools – we couldn’t have done it without them.”

The Friends of Hewett decided to focus on being ‘project-based’, so their fundraising applications could be made to organisations that would most likely be able to help. This also meant that they could advertise a particular volunteer ‘event’ to the parents, such as a painting or gardening day, rather than asking for a non-specific amount of time, which was much more successful.

Rebecca tells us more about the first project the Friends rolled up their sleeves for: “one of the teachers at the Academy recently moved here from London. She had a vision to renovate an unused room in the school into a community lounge for the pupils. This sounded like a fabulous idea, and one that our students could really benefit from. We managed to raise £10,000 in grants and donations and this went towards white goods, games and supplying a free hot meal to students who came to the homework club. We’re also incredibly grateful to the local business community – we’ve had a kitchen donated and a local furniture shop donate their seconds. This has been a great success, and one of the parent volunteers who painted the lounge even got a job from this!”

Lockdown won’t stop us!

The Friends of Hewett were buoyed from this accomplishment, and had plenty of ideas for the future. Unfortunately, not long after they got the ball rolling, the coronavirus pandemic struck and lockdown became a normal part of everyday life. Thankfully, this did not stop the Friends – they adjusted their plans and set about launching ‘No Hewett Family Left Behind’. “We worked with teachers to deliver 500 food parcels to families in our school community and with the help of Norfolk Community Foundation and other donors, gifted 35 laptops and 20 internet dongles to students who would benefit”, Rebecca explains. The generosity did not end there though, with wellbeing play and art packages being donated and delivered so that students’ younger siblings also benefited.

“We are passionate that every family in our school community should feel supported during this time” Becky Greengrass, treasurer

Efforts are now being focused on the future and the Hewett Academy and Friends’ have begun their ‘Back Together Stronger’ project, raising £25,000, including a £5000 grant from East of England Co-op. This has meant that the group can offer opportunities for students to improve their post lockdown health and fitness – smoothie making bikes have been hired from Norwich YMCA, sports kits have been sponsored by Mr Fruity Wholesale and an outdoor new gym and playground have been installed.

Rebecca and her team have exciting plans for the future: “Hewett’s Principal, Mr Little, is keen to bring environmental issues to the forefront of the agenda. We’re planning to support his idea for a school recycling system and investigating having a sheet press and granulator on site, so that students can be involved in the whole plastic recycling lifecycle.”

Rebecca’s tips….
  • Encouraging a collaboration between the school and Friends/PTA is really beneficial
  • Advertising specific events that you want parents to get involved with are likely to have more success than asking for a long term time commitment
  • Talk to Parentkind! The Membership Support Team are really helpful and can provide with useful information such as access to the Grants4Schools database and a webinar on grant funding
  • Approach your local business community to let them know what you’re doing – don’t be afraid to ask for donations, volunteers or other types of support

Fact File
  • PTA name: Friends of Hewett Academy
  • School name: Hewett Academy
  • Age range: 11-16
  • Country: England
  • School type: Academy
  • Size: 350

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