As the COVID-19 crisis tightens its grip on the UK and around the world, the Merchiston grounds retain their unshakeable tranquillity and you could have been forgiven, in this oasis of calm, for momentarily forgetting the difficulties endured by many: the suffering of Coronavirus victims and their families, the loneliness of those forced to stay at home, the anxiety of carers and the long shifts being worked by countless key workers to keep the country going. However, it is in such situations that a community like Merchiston really comes together, not to pull up the drawbridge and insulate ourselves from the crisis, but to open the gates and head out into the local community to do what little we may to help those most in need.
A fleet of unused minibuses seemed an excellent place to start, and it seemed likely that deliveries of various sorts might be required in the local area. Groups of Lower Sixth boys normally spend their Wednesday afternoons helping to mentor pupils at two local primary schools (amongst others): Longstone and Braidburn, as part of our Koinonia (Community Service) programme. Both of these institutions have been working incredibly hard to get food parcels out to their most vulnerable pupils, and we were happily able to assist them.
In some cases, Edinburgh City Council delivers to the schools ready for distribution; in other cases, we collect them directly from the council in our minibus with our trailer brightly decorated by some of the children resident on campus in homage to all the key workers. The boxes include all the staples to last for a few days: tinned food, cheese, bread, milk, eggs, fruit. We then assist in delivering these across the city to children from Queensferry to Craigmillar and from Leith to Wester Hailes.
It is only when you start doing this sort of work that you truly appreciate the scale of the task. Even keeping just a few families properly supplied is a major logistical operation and we take our hats off to these schools who are doing a truly remarkable job of looking after their pupils. It is also in doing such work that you meet others engaged in the same endeavour. The army of volunteers which has mobilised in response to the crisis is both inspiring and heart-warming. Through these meetings, further opportunities have arisen to help out in future with both St. Crispin’s School and Edinburgh City Mission Food Banks, delivering further parcels for the former and collecting donations for the latter from Morrisons and dropping them off at the distribution depot.
Braidburn are now in the process of developing activity packs to keep their pupils active and stimulated through this challenging time, and we plan to deliver these in the coming days and weeks. We also remain on hand to help any other community groups who may be in need of a little logistical support. Keep an eye out for further updates!
Explore our website and find out more about the charitable work we do.
Follow our Merchiston Sixth Form twitter account @Merchi6th to see Mr Rowland's latest food delivery posts.
Stay safe and keep connected!