Last month we featured a brief update about St Joseph’s Primary School in Wetherby gaining the Live Simply Award from CAFOD. Below is a more detailed story from the Head Teacher, Louise Milivojevic. Not only is St Joseph’s the first school in the Diocese to gain the Live Simply Award it is one of only 6 schools in the entire country to have obtained this award. Well done to all the staff and pupils! – there are some great ideas that could easily be replicated elsewhere.


Over the past year, the community of St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School in Wetherby have worked together to live more simply! Along the way, we have explored sustainable ways to be less wasteful, to promote respect for God’s world and to live in solidarity with those who are less fortunate than we are. It has been fantastic to see the whole community getting on board with our Live Simply culture at school and we are very proud of what we have achieved.
It was wonderful to share our journey of living more simply, and we are extremely proud to have been presented with the CAFOD, Live Simply Award – and to be the first school in the diocese to do so.
We began our journey by making a whole school banner using only reused and recycled materials to remind us of our Live Simply mission across school and this approach to respect, reduce, repair, reuse and recycle is now well embedded in all that we do across school. At St Joseph’s, Wetherby, we have many different groups of children: Planet Protectors, Mini Vinnies and a Mini Religious Development Team who work tirelessly to support and deliver different initiatives for our Live Simply mission across school and beyond.
As part of our mission to live more sustainably, we have been committed to using significantly less energy and reducing waste by being proactive and turning off switches, lights and computer monitors when not in use. We reuse our water where we can and we have exciting plans to significantly reduce the use of plastic in school and beyond. All of these initiatives have been launched by our Planet Protectors, but have been embraced by all. We now choose to back some of our learning walls in used newspaper – it’s kinder to the environment and looks great too! The children have been committed to sharing these messages outside of school and are keen to really make a difference in school and at home. Simple changes like turning the tap off when brushing their teeth, or suggesting that they use a bowl of water to wash pots rather than the dishwasher, and we encourage our families to walk, scoot and cycle wherever they can.
We are committed to living in solidarity with the poor and this year our Mini Vinnies have collected and sent over six different collections far and wide. We hold regular collections for the local food banks and have sent Christmas hampers to families in need across Leeds. We have sent back packs filled with essential items to the charity Mary’s Meals to provide those in Africa and Asia with basic essentials. We have also donated bags full of warm coats and winter clothes for orphans across Europe and into Aisa as part of the Syria and Iraq ‘Keep a Child Warm Appeal’. Our children love to share what they have with those in need and are committed to living in solidarity with the poor. We keep these people in our daily prayers and offerings. Our pupils have learnt a lot this year about the people they have been helping, and during refugee week, some of the children’s work was displayed in St Anne’s Cathedral in Leeds. Over the year, our Mini Vinnies and our year 2 pupils have enjoyed spending time in our local community at the friendship club and a local residential home, sharing games and stories and spending time with them, keeping them company. The children collected used books to take to the residents to reuse. This experience has brought a smile to us all.
Our Live Simply journey so far has been simply fantastic. We continue to strive to make a difference in our community and beyond. We are very much looking forward to continuing on our Live Simply Journey and have some exciting plans ahead.