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The Charity Committee in June 2012 started the journey of seeking applications from local, national and international charities to be our Golden Jubilee Charity. This was a great undertaking with over 30 applications received. The Charity selection panel had representatives from staff, students, parents and governors. The charities applications were short-listed to three and the next stage of the process was for each charity to present their bid to the panel. Each of the charities had worthy needs and could work effectively with the school. But Brushstroke won the bid due to the potential it offered for partnership work and engagement with the school.

Visit to Brushstrokes - 16 November 2012
On Friday 16 November, accompanied by Mr Smith, we travelled to Smethwick, to visit Brushstrokes, our Golden Jubilee Year Charity Partner. Brushstrokes won the bid, competing against two other amazing charities: Narthex and WaterAid. We were greeted at the centre with a warm welcome and it was great to meet all the staff. Seeing the food bank, the mother and baby area and the learning rooms for ESOL gave us an insight into the work they do.

Brushstrokes is a community project that aims to help and support people in the neighbourhood of Smethwick who are in difficulties, in particular helping asylum seekers and refugees. As well as the food bank, the charity offers advice, support in the form of essentials such as clothes and nappies for babies and young children, as well as a scheme called ESOL, which helps refugees and asylum seekers to learn English, which they would not be able to do otherwise without sufficient funding.
We thoroughly enjoyed visiting the charity and finding out more about the good work they do within the community. I think we speak on behalf of the school community when we say we look forward greatly to working with this charity in 2013!

Orla Lenehan and Chris Pakes
Year 13 Students

Brushstrokes Visit - 8 January 2013
On Tuesday 8 January 2013 Mr Smith, Anne-Marie Tibbits, Mr Ingram, and seven students visited our Jubilee Charity Brushstrokes in Smethwick. The students represented their Houses in their roles as ‘Charity Captains', giving them all an opportunity to learn about the support Brushstrokes offers.
Teresa Clements, the Brushstrokes Manager, warmly welcomed our group and introduced several staff and volunteers.

The Charity Captains' brief is to identify which areas of supporting Brushstrokes they would recommend their House concentrates its fundraising efforts on this year. Each House will focus on different aspects, for example one House may focus on raising money to buy food items for the food bank, or collecting items to ensure the bank is fully stocked. Another House may concentrate on the ESOL project, assisting with the creation of resources or raising funds to purchase sets of resources.
For the students of St Thomas Aquinas Catholic School, this partnership with Brushstrokes is a fantastic opportunity to make a real difference to the lives of people living in Birmingham.
Mr Ingram

Teresa Clements, the Director of Brushstrokes was one of the providers over the Mission Week who presented the theme ‘Walk a mile in their shoes’. This was an opportunity for student to gain insight into the work of the charity. Teresa visited school and lead assemblies with each of the Houses as a means of introducing the work that the charity does to support those in need in our local community..

Lenten Charities
This further enabled each Head of Houses to launch their focus for the Lenten Charity through assemblies.
Romero/Bosco - Mother and Baby Supplies
More/Teresa/Newman - Recourses for Language Development
John Paul/Fisher
- Emergency Crisis Fund
Martin - Interpersonal and Social Development Fund

Some examples of the ways the students raised money over the Lenten period:

Lenten Charities Bag Pack - 2 March 2013
On Saturday 53 students from Bosco and Teresa House and 11 staff carried out a bag pack at Sainsbury's in Selly Oak as part of the Lenten Charity Appeal. The day was a huge success with £1,439.90 being raised for Brushstrokes, the school's Jubilee charity, which supports refugees and asylum seekers within the West Midlands. It was pleasing to see so many students embracing the spirit of Lent and giving up their time generously to help those in need.

Brushstrokes Charity Fun Run - 19 March 2013
On Tuesday 19 March 2013 staff and students got together raise funds for the Jubilee Charity Partner ‘Brushstrokes' with a sponsored walk along the ‘Yellow Brick Road'.
Students and staff donned fancy dress costumes and makeup for a fun walk in the freezing weather; all houses, year groups and faculties were well represented as three hundred frozen feet strode out of school supported by our local Police Community Support Officers.

This is just one of many fundraising activities currently being undertaken as part of the School's Lenten Charity Appeal, the funds are still be counted!

Autumn Raffle - 3 December 2013
Raising money for ‘Brushstrokes'
Once again, our students and parents have given generosity this year despite the financial climate in the country and Christmas approaching, our parents and children showed the real meaning of Christmas in a wonderful effort which brought in £7771. The team spirit amongst all the Houses has been outstanding as usual during the past 4 weeks with the students doing their best, supported by parents and form tutors who constantly encouraged.

A really big thank you and well done to all concerned.

Christmas Jumpers Day - 19 December 2013
Today, Aquinas was gripped with the festive fever as staff and students swapped their usual attire for Christmas jumpers and accessories. Everybody looked fabulous and the day was thoroughly enjoyed by all. The RE faculty were particularly impressive; they took the theme to a new level dressing up as Nativity characters. It was a fantastic day and the proceeds from the day will go to support our Jubilee Charity, Brushstrokes. Gemma Baker (Year 12)

A Great Cheque for Brushstrokes – 20 December 2013
After the Christmas Mass the school were proud to hand over a cheque for £13,500.00 to Teresa Clements Director of Brushstrokes, our Golden Jubilee Charity in 2013

From the beginning of the process of finding a worthy charity to have as our Jubilee Charity Brushstroke demonstrated great potential to fully enthuse and engage our school. They had a strong application and presentation with many staff/volunteers from the various aspects of the charitable work they conduct sharing how they could work with the school. Unfortunately in early January 2013 much funding was cut from the staffing and resource budget and this left Teresa Clement very understaffed and with the sole responsibility to attend all school events and lead assemblies.

Teresa made great efforts to enthuse and engage the student as she is very passionate about the work of Brushstrokes. But at times was unable to attend some key opportunities for the charities profile to be elevated further.

Overall the impact of Brushstrokes on the students was minimal and considerably less than proposed in their bid leaving the Heads of Houses/Form Tutors to work extra hard to drive the fundraising activities and events throughout the year.

Richard Smith
Acting Deputy Headteacher