PUPILS from East Lancashire met their South African counterparts during a trip where they saw the impact of their fundraising efforts.

The Pleckgate High School students, who have been raising funds throughout the year, visited a deprived township in Cape Town to see the ‘real’ South Africa.

Through the Uthando township project, the group of 26 students and staff saw how youngsters are being given chances to lift themselves out of poverty through projects involving dance, drama, and music.

Uthando charity houses 1.6million people, where many live in squalid conditions. The group from the Blackburn school described it as an ‘eye-opening’ experience.

While in Cape Town, they also visited schools they had forged links with before they left for South Africa earlier this month.

They met students from five schools, and had a multi-faith celebration evening where Blackburn College staff, who were visiting the area, also attended.

Blackburn College has signed a deal with universities in Cape Town to teach its courses to students.

Nicola Stanton, from Pleckgate School, who organised the trip, said: “This really was a once-in-a-lifetime trip for the pupils to see the many sides of Cape Town, and to learn about the education, history and cult-ure of this beautiful city.

“It was a fantastic experience for the pupils to actually see how their fund-raising in school will help the communities in the townships.”

Head boy Joseph Harris said: “The trip was totally life changing. It has made me realise just how much charity work can change an individual’s life and how grateful people are. It was an utterly incredible experience.”

Student Joe Clarkson said: “A highlight would have be to be the differences between cultures and seeing life in the Langa township – a real eye-opener.”

Pupil Umar Munshi said: “My highlight was going to the townships looking at how the Uthando charity was trying to help the youth there.

"It was great looking at how happy the young children were just by getting a pen, or a football shirt.”