The Charity marked its 75th anniversary in 2021. In reviewing progress since its re-launch in 2017, the Trustees decided to take a more proactive approach to delivering the aims of the Charity, alongside the consideration of applications for assistance.

In 2021/22 Trustees agreed to prioritise ways to support children affected by school closures and restrictions on outdoor activities, resulting from the covid lockdowns. During 2022 they developed and promoted two schemes that have been rolled out in primary schools in the area – book vouchers and Forest Schools.

Initiatives developed in 2023 responded to the impact of increases in the cost of living. TOGS supermarket vouchers were offered through a scheme with HFM and a donation was made to support the work of the Harborough Hygiene Bank.

Supporting the Harborough Hygiene Bank

As a response to the increase in the cost of living in 2022/23 Trustees decided to make a financial donation of £7,320 to the Harborough Hygiene Bank in December 2023. This will assist its valuable work in meeting the rising need in the area for personal hygiene and cleaning products.

The Harborough Hygiene Bank was set up in 2020 and is run entirely by volunteers. It collects donations of products from the community for distribution to people in need. The Charity’s donation will enable the Hygiene Bank to purchase products that are less frequently donated and to respond to changing needs in 2024.

TOGS Supermarket Vouchers

We have introduced a scheme of TOGS (The Old Grammar School) vouchers to help people struggling with high inflation and increased living costs.  The first scheme was run in partnership with local radio station HfM during September 2023.

The scheme offered a £75 Aldi gift card for groceries or other household products to people who successfully applied for the scheme through HfM.  132 people living in Market Harborough, Great Bowden or Little Bowden received a gift card under the scheme.

The Trustees are grateful to HFM and Aldi for their participation in launching the TOGS scheme.

Book Vouchers for Primary School Pupils

Primary school book vouchers

In 2022 every child attending a primary school in Market Harborough, Little Bowden and Great Bowden received a £10 book voucher from the Charity through their school. The aim of the scheme was to encourage reading, by allowing the children to exchange the voucher for a book of their choice.

Trustees were delighted to work with local bookshop Quinns to deliver this scheme. Hundreds of vouchers were redeemed for books, with the scheme closing at the end of 2022.

Feedback on the scheme from parents has been positive:

“my sincere thanks for this lovely gift to the children. The joys and benefits of reading cannot be overestimated.”

“Giving the children the chance to choose something of their own is a lovely idea and the fact that the voucher is for Quinn’s makes it even more special. I hope that this will introduce more people both to the joys of book ownership and to this excellent shop.”

“I am sure this scheme will have a very positive affect on children’s mental health at a time when children’s mental health is suffering and will make many very special memories.”

“The importance of reading for pleasure can never be underestimated and has a huge impact on children’s life chances and mental health. Book ownership is also vital for encouraging a reading culture as well as library use.”

Forest School Sessions

To encourage children to explore the outdoors and learn about the natural environment the Charity worked with the Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust (LRWT).  All primary schools in the area were offered the opportunity to run two LRWT-led Forest School programmes in 2022.

The Charity was pleased to fund the LRWT, a leading county wildlife conservation charity with trained and experienced leaders, to organise and deliver the programmes. The LRWT worked with five of the seven primary schools in the area to deliver Forest School programmes. The other two schools have their own Forest School practitioner. The Charity offered these schools direct funding to increase the number of sessions delivered.

Forest Schools take place outdoors and use natural resources to stimulate learning in a fun and engaging way through a variety of activities. They deliver a range of benefits including improving emotional and social skills, developing physical abilities, and improving knowledge and understanding of the natural world.

Children enjoying a LRWT Forest School session in Market Harborough (September 2022)

Den building, storytelling and cooking marshmallows at a Farndon Fields Forest School Session (November 2022)

Helping Refugees Living in the Area

In response to the offer of homes for Ukrainian refugees in the Market Harborough area, Trustees considered the support provided nationally and locally and the immediate needs of refugees living in the area.

They noted that refugees must travel to major cities to complete the process for biometric residence permits – and the cost of travel from Market Harborough. To help with this immediate need, they set aside a budget to assist those facing hardship in meeting these costs. Eligible applicants could apply for a flat rate grant of £30 per person. By November 2022 18 refugees had received a grant.