Helping the St George Foundation
Scroll down to see more ways you can help the St George Foundation.
A brief history
Before setting up the clothing business and the children’s charity, Philip Dean returned to the UK in the early 1990s from working on cruise ships in hospitality. He set up the clothing business supplying embroidered and printed clothing and always enjoyed the customer’s excitement at seeing their designs on the shirts for the first and this led on to concentrating on hoodies (especially leavers hoodies) for students.
But throughout the carefree days of the 1990s while the business grew in the UK, almost unnoticed a dark and ugly civil was rumbling on in Sierra Leone (West Africa). By its end there were 50,000 war orphans, thousands of boys had been abducted to become child soldiers and girls abducted as sex slaves. Rebels would happily mutilate their victims (chopping of hands and arms) and bring terror to the areas they ruled. The capital city (Freetown) had swelled with refugees from the fighting and as the rebels managed to advance into the city itself the British Government (under Tony Blair at the time) decided enough was enough. British forces were sent to help and along with the forces still loyal to the government and from neighbouring Nigeria the rebels were confronted and defeated in 2002.
Not long after that Philip was invited on a trip to Sierra Leone to see a project that he had supported. It became a life changing trip.
Apart from destroyed roads and bullet ridden buildings, burnt out cars and heavily armed soldiers everywhere there were desperate children begging for food seemingly at every turn. Philip was utterly shocked and deeply moved at what he had seen.
There were in fact about 3000 orphaned children at that time, alone in the streets of Freetown; children who through no fault of their own had become prostitutes or criminals or were eating out of bins just to survive. Often not eating for days they were covered in sores, very thin, very stressed, receiving no medical care, no education and had no one to look after them. Life was miserable and could expect to stay that way.
Philip was horrified and convinced that he must be able to do something to help at least some of them. With the help of some local volunteers in Freetown a feeding station was set up to provide two meals a day and some activities and counselling to a group of the most vulnerable children. Within months a large bungalow had been rented and 68 children crammed inside to start a new life with somewhere to call home. Thankfully the clothing business was doing well enough to support a modest project.
This was the start of the St George Foundation and the start of the St George family with all the children viewing themselves as St George brothers and sisters. Finally they started to feel like normal children again and so began the long road back to happy healthy lives with people around them that cared.
The children soon got back to school and were helped to catch up on the years of education that they had missed. The following year a family tracing programme began and nearly all the children were eventually reunited with their relatives (mostly grandparents, aunts and uncles or siblings as nearly all the parents had died during the war). Reunifying them meant that the bungalow would soon become empty, so as there were many children still in desperate need a new group was formed and the process repeated. Every year now the present group head off to be reunified with their families at the end of the summer term and a new group recruited from the streets.
Sadly there are still many children in need of help and frustratingly the St George home has unfilled places due to lack of funds to fill it. Today there are children living in the street that could be in the safety of the home if it were not for money.
It costs about £500 for a child’s place for a year.
The lucky children that we can help really appreciate it, really learn to love school and make the most of the chance to transform lives…
On behalf of them,
Thank you so much!
What we actually do for the children
Read about our work in Sierra Leone on St George Foundation website.
Other hoodie sales
If you buy your hoodies now that of course is a great help and thank you so much! But other purchases could help the project even more
Can you think of any other hoodies needed?
- Maybe you can you introduce us to the leavers in the year below or the head of Sixth form?
- Maybe there are ski trips, other trips or events where hoodies are used?
- Maybe your choir or football team (for example) use hoodies? Maybe students would like house hoodies?
Remember us at your next school, college or university?
(University Halls of residence, clubs and societies are a great source of hoodie orders)
Other ways to help
There are many ways you can get involved to help raise money for the St George Foundation. Take a look our the charity's fundraising page for more information.