Supporting Understaffed Inner-City Schools through Events and Donations

Sumitomo Corporation Europe’s (SCEU) London Office is building a relationship with an inner-city* school in order to give back to the community.

Reaching out to local schools

As part of the 100SEED initiative, our team at SCEU’s London Office is focusing on “literacy” to contribute to Quality Education. As we were initially unable to find a suitable NGO to collaborate with, we decided to contact the ten closest schools and offer our support directly. Many of the inner-city schools in the central London area where our office is located are struggling with funding issues and understaffing, and the teachers face challenges due to time constraints, large class sizes, and demanding workloads. Our intention was to play some small part in alleviating these issues.

Charles Dickens Primary School responded to our offer, and we met with a teacher in charge of helping children with dyslexia and learning disabilities. During the meeting, we focused on listening to their needs, and one of the ideas put forward was for SCEU to do a morning assembly introducing Japanese culture and our business. We thought this was a fine idea, as it could be a starting point to introduce ourselves to the children and build a long-lasting relationship with the school.

  • inner-city: A low-income area located near the center of a large city, where residences, shops, factories etc. are mixed together.

Teaching Japanese culture in a fun way

On the day of the assembly, our “Japan Day” team of eleven volunteers arrived at Charles Dickens Primary School at 10:00. The volunteers kicked off the event with a quiz, posing questions to the children like, “Which famous character belongs to Japan? Pikachu or Mickey Mouse?” and “Which sport is Japanese? Baseball or sumo?” They also taught them a few simple Japanese words such as “Ohayo gozaimasu,” meaning “Good morning,” and presented a fun animated video explaining the Sumitomo business in Europe. Afterwards, they performed a short skit illustrating a typical day in a Japanese office, conveying the culture in an understandable and enjoyable way.

Some of the volunteers dressed up in traditional Japanese outfits, such as kimonos and happi (a coat typically worn during festivals).

To encourage literacy at the school, we also donated a set of 13 Japan-themed books, including traditional fairytales like Momotaro and stories illustrating the lives of children in Japan. At the end of the assembly, the volunteers formally presented these books to the school and encouraged the children to read them. In addition, they prepared a gift pack for each pupil, consisting of origami, a bookmark, and Japanese vegetable seeds, so that they would remember the day.

Following Japan Day on May 18, we have been continuously looking for ways to contribute. An IT literacy workshop was held in November, and following the renovations at the London Office, we are planning to donate some of our old furniture and laptops to the school. We also have a range of other activities planned, including a bake sale to raise funds, a trip to an exhibition space called the Japan House, and in-person reading sessions. Moving forward, we will continue doing our best to give back to our local schools and the community.

IT Literacy Workshop

On two consecutive mornings in November, we invited groups of sixty children to tour our office, where we conducted workshops on online safety—a particularly important topic for the older children. The workshops covered cybersecurity, how to identify spam emails, and other online scams. The presenters used humor and relatable stories to keep the sessions enjoyable and interactive, helping the pupils to better understand these complex issues. The children asked lots of questions, including “How do I know if it’s really my friend contacting me?”, “Why must I have a password on my phone?”, and “How much personal information should I share?”, all of which our team was able to expertly answer.

Chikako Tagawa, General Affairs Dept.
Jon Margree, Group head of People, Legal & Property Group

March 2024