School in a Bag, the initiative run by the Piers Simon Appeal based in Chilthorne Domer near Yeovil, has reached its first £1 million milestone – in the charity’s 10th anniversary year.
The Piers Simon Appeal (PSA) was set up in memory of Piers who sadly lost his life in the Indian Ocean Tsunami on Boxing Day in 2004, following a collection at his memorial, which raised £10,000. In the first five years, financial contributions were made to disaster victims in 13 countries by the PSA. In 2009, following a project helping orphan children in Swaziland, the School in a Bag (SIAB) initiative was born to help address the millions of children who are deprived of an opportunity to learn.
According to UNICEF figures, one fifth of the world’s child population (around 75 million children), will never attend school, so School in a Bag delivers rucksacks simply filled with stationery, learning resources and eating utensils to poor, orphan and disaster-affected children around the world and to date, the initiative has delivered over 55,000 SchoolBags to children in 27 countries – a number which continues to grow.
Luke Simon, the Founder and CEO of School in a Bag, said: “We are so excited to have reached our first million pounds of fundraising, especially in such a significant year for us. The humble beginnings of being the biggest donors to help rebuild and repair Koh Phi Phi and building a bridge that had been lost in Sri Lanka, has now spread to thousands of children around the world, each receiving a SchoolBag to enable them to go to school and in turn giving them hope for a brighter future.
He adds: “Of course I miss my big brother every day and things will never be the same without him around, but through the sadness of losing him, we’ve helped so many people in his name. We are hugely grateful for the continued and valuable support helping School in a Bag to expand enabling us to provide more SchoolBags to disadvantaged children around the world, so through our celebrations, we really want to reach out and say thank you to everyone who has donated, volunteered or fundraised for us over the last 10 years.”
The SchoolBags are primarily delivered in two ways: shipping SchoolBags out from the UK, which have often been packed by the donors, putting SchoolBags together ‘In Country’ using international partners, which not only eradicates shipping costs and time, making them cheaper so more SchoolBags can be funded, but also puts money directly into the local economy from purchasing the SchoolBags and their contents.
Since 2009, SIAB have worked with many different businesses, schools, groups, clubs and individuals who have fundraised for the charity and in July this year, became the International Service Charity partner for the Inner Wheel Association of GB & Ireland, meaning School in a Bag is now working on a national level. SIAB also set up a Nepal Earthquake Appeal after the recent devastation due to its links with the country and after an initial goal of £2000, it has currently raised over £57,000 – not only an amazing amount, but also bridging the gap between the charity’s disaster relief work and SchoolBags.
The charity is in a really exciting place, and looking forward to raising its next million.