Pupils always look forward to their retreat days – where they have a chance to pause, reflect and give something back. And wherever they go, our pupils take the warmth of the Downside community with them.

This week the Lower Sixth Form split into two groups for their Bristol retreats – one to St James Priory Church and the other to St Nicholas Tolentino Church. The retreat theme focussed on homelessness, drug and alcohol addiction/recovery. Each morning, the groups started with morning prayer in the Old Chapel at School before setting off to Bristol.

Pupils visited various charities around Bristol including Sisters of the Church (food bank), the parish of St Nicholas Tolentino (refugee support), the Wild Goose Café (a free café that feeds 400 people a day), the Spring of Hope House (night shelter for women), Emmaus House (long-term homeless accommodation) and Riverside Jamaica House (council run emergency accommodation).

The groups learnt about the 12-step programme used for alcohol and drug addiction, and heard testimonies from those who are in recovery.

Both retreat days ended with a prayer liturgy for the charities the pupils had visited and for those who suffering from the effects of drug and alcohol addiction.