Passion for Learning is an educational resource charity in Chester and Cheshire West. They provide support from trained volunteers and enriching resources to children and families through schools and in the community. Their work ensures that children living in challenging circumstances are learning and having fun, improving their mental health and fulfilling their potential. CCF have provided grants to this superb organisation for many years, helping them grow and extend their reach in the Cheshire West community.
When the pandemic hit, Passion for Learning knew that homeschooling was going to provide a significant challenge to many of their clients, who might not even have storybooks at home, let alone the resources needed to keep up with the whole curriculum. They came to us for a grant to meet the increased demand, and provide covid-safe delivery to over 2000 families.
What they found was that the community’s needs were changing, and so their provision changed too. Children who were previously supported by volunteers were kept in contact through exchanging letters and personalised activities by post. Through an online survey Passion for Learning found that parents needed resources but they also needed guidance and advice around homeschooling, so they set up a helpline to do so. Where children were becoming ‘zoomed out’, having spent too long looking at screens, Passion for Learning put together real life activity books, teamed with jigsaws or other linked resources, which research told them would keep children engaged for longer.
When Passion for Learning created an online resource request form, shared on the same day the government announced further months of school closures, they were overwhelmed with applications and had to take the web page down that evening. The requests were coming from some of Cheshire’s most deprived communities: Blacon, Ellesmere Port, Northwich and Winsford as well as further afield. The children in need of resources were from primary, secondary and special schools, and this increased demand prompted them to come to CCF for help.
Passion for Learning compiled resource boxes with craft materials, their activity books, stories, family games, puzzles, and even outdoor toys like skipping ropes and hula hoops. They are experienced at finding suppliers who can balance high quality lasting resources with low costs, as well as procuring some of their items for free. Their ten years’ experience paid off and they were able to mobilise their volunteers, pivot to meet changing needs, and keep everyone safe during a uniquely challenging time.
Through the generosity of our donors, Passion for Learning were able to mitigate the impact of school closures on some of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children in our community. These children were not left behind educationally, and the charity’s support made the difference between doing nothing and doing something. The grant allowed them to extend their reach, meaning they now offer support to many more families in different localities in Cheshire, for other projects such as a summer programme of activity packs accompanied by meals, for those who got their best meal of the day at school.
Parents who described themselves as “at breaking point” said the help from Passion for Learning was “life saving”. Care home residents had their days brightened by cards and letters made by Passion for Learning’s families, an activity provided in one of their packs. Children experiencing bereavement were sent personalised packs via a local hospice, bringing some much-needed distraction from an otherwise intense time, and letting them know they were in others’ thoughts. This was all made possible through the donations we receive, and so we cannot thank our donors enough. You really do make all the difference.