Neil Macintosh, Partnership Development Manager and International Coordinator, Tile Cross Academy, Birmingham (700 pupils) told us: ‘Tile Cross Academy in Birmingham has applied and secured two grants from the Armed Forces Covenant, the latest of which was worth £18,880. The theme of our application was “Birmingham to Bergen-Belsen: Liberating the Roma”. The aim was to engage the Armed Forces with the wider community by investigating the historic role of the British Army in defending our freedom and liberating the concentration camps at the end of WWII, whilst linking this to their continued role in protecting British values today. We achieved this by using the grant to fund the following:
• Hosted a Holocaust survivor to speak.
• Took 20 pupils to London on an overnight trip during which they took part in a Holocaust workshop and toured the Holocaust gallery at the Imperial War Museum; had a behind-the-scenes look at the Household Cavalry at Horse Guards Parade;
• had a behind-the-scenes visit to the Grenadier Guards at Wellington Barracks; toured the Tower of London.
• Took 20 pupils to Germany to visit Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery, and other Holocaust sites in Hamburg.
• Created a professional video of the whole project.
• Held a celebration event for pupils, parents and invited guests at which the video was shown for the first time.
The Army were integrated into every aspect of the project, which was chosen to reflect and engage with the large cohort of Romanian gypsy students we have on roll (15%).
The application process was simple and required us to complete an online form. There are regional Armed Forces Local Covenant Partnership steering groups that should be consulted before applying, but this is explained in the guidance documents.
The project had a hugely positive impact for the school. Our local MP and the Lord Mayor of Birmingham attended the celebration event and were hugely impressed with the outcomes. The pupils – particularly our Roma gypsy students – felt valued and that their cultural heritage had been recognised. The funding enabled our pupils, who are some of the most disadvantaged in the country, to experience things they would never normally have the opportunity to take part in. To see the impact this has had, please watch the video.’