Kearsley Academy pupils heading to Downing Street to lobby government about cost of living

Back, from left, Carla Pickering, of Farnworth and Kearsley Food Bank, Dave Eglinton, Tesco Community Champion, and Cllr Liam Irving; front, Kearsley Academy pupils Joe Kinsella, Megan Booth, Alfie McDermott, Michaela Devenport, Nike Kasiginaite and Jade

Back, from left, Carla Pickering, of Farnworth and Kearsley Food Bank, Dave Eglinton, Tesco Community Champion, and Cllr Liam Irving; front, Kearsley Academy pupils Joe Kinsella, Megan Booth, Alfie McDermott, Michaela Devenport, Nike Kasiginaite and Jade

First published in News The Bolton News: Photograph of the Author by , education reporter

THEY may still be at school — but young people at Kearsley Academy are determined to fight injustice and change the world for the better.

The year 11 citizens are preparing to travel to Downing Street to call on David Cameron to lower the cost of living.

They want to see energy bills and the cost of food reduced after learning about families relying on food banks.

Every pupil in the final year is completing a GCSE in citizenship as an additional qualification to stand them in good stead when applying for university.

It will also enable them to engage actively in local, national and global affairs.

As part of their course, the teenagers become active citizens and develop a campaign on a local issue that is important to them and their community.

The project has snowballed, from pupils knowing very little about the concept of food banks, to preparing to travel to Westminster as part of their campaign against the rise of living costs and the cuts to wages and benefits.

They believe these problems have led to a 170 per cent increase in the number of local families using the Farnworth and Kearsley Food Bank. The pupils have started an online petition and written campaign letters to their local councillor and MP Yasmin Qureshi.

They have also given a presentation to local politicians, representatives from the food bank and headteacher Nigel Jepson.

To make an immediate difference to local families, pupils organised a non- uniform day in which students and staff donated non- perishable good in return for wearing their own clothes.

More than 40 bags of food were collected and handed over to the Trussel Trust food bank in Farnworth.

Dawn Schofield, the school’s citizenship co-ordinator, said: “As part of their campaign the pupils had to choose a cause that was important to them.

“They were particularly upset when they heard about the amount of people having to visit a food bank, and decided to make it their cause.

“Yasmin Qureshi offered the children the opportunity to present the petition to No 10 and have a tour of the House of Commons, and we’re hoping to take her up on that.

“Young people are often the centre of their own universe. That is not necessarily wrong, they are young. Through citizenship classes they become more aware of issues locally and across the world.

Pupils admit initially their reason for taking the extra GCSE was so they would stand out when applying for university. But now say they feel more empowered when it comes to making a difference.

Megan Booth, aged 16, said: “Citizenship classes are so important. They open your eyes to what is happening and what you can do to help.”

Jade Ainsworth, aged 15, added: “We researched about child soldiers last year and wanted to do something to help them. It was really successful and this year we researched food banks.

“What we have learned is that everybody can make a difference. To help the Child Soldiers we held a fundraising day.

“With the food bank we have collected food, but also started a campaign. We have developed different skills, such as our communication skills.”

Michaela Devonport, aged 16, said: “We were really shocked about the numbers of people using food banks. Before, none of us really knew much about them and we found out that there is one in the community.”

Nike Kasiginaite, aged 15, added: “We are really excited to go to London as part of the campaign.”

Comments (1)

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9:44am Tue 14 Jan 14

Wigan Trotter says...

Disgraceful that the name of the school was changed from George Tomlinson High School to Kearsley Academy
Disgraceful that the name of the school was changed from George Tomlinson High School to Kearsley Academy Wigan Trotter
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