Social and community impact: award winner and runners-up

Winner: University of Derby

Project: This is Derby

Circus skills have been on offer in Normanton, drummercise in Derwent and hula hooping in Allenton.

All have been arranged through #ThisIsDerby, a partnership between the University of Derby, Derby’s Cultural Education Partnership, led by Derby Theatre, Derby County Community Trust and a range of the city’s sports organisations.

The partnership aims to celebrate the city and give young people from all backgrounds the chance to develop essential life skills, including confidence, communication and team-working, through taking part in culture and sport.

Derby ranks 303rd out of 324 districts for social mobility, with young people in some of the poorest areas finding it hard to access activities outside school.

The #ThisIsDerby partnership made a successful bid for £1 million to the Department for Education via the Opportunity Area board in August 2018 and used this to begin work with key partners in the community.

The programme was based on a collection of hubs, with each partner organisation leading the co-ordination of one hub, bringing in other partners and practitioners as needed.

The ten hubs, directed by local steering groups made up of young people, teachers, community leaders and youth centres, were established in nine of Derby’s most deprived wards, while a virtual special educational needs (SEND) hub worked with all the special schools in the city.

By October 2018, each hub was delivering 12 hours of cultural and sporting activity per week, with a series of taster workshops offered each term followed by longer-term projects.

More than 25,000 sessions have now been delivered, involving more than 2,800 young people. The project has also secured a further £2.5 million of investment in expanding arts and sports activities in the area for a further three years.

Data from #ThisIsDerby is informing the DfE’s assessment of how such programmes can develop cultural capital in young people.

Undergraduates involved in delivering the programme report feeling better embedded in the community, while teachers say the project has improved the self-confidence and skills of the children they teach and improved their perception of the city.

Runner up: Edinburgh Napier

Project: Bleedin Saor

In 2018, the Scottish government became the first in the world to make free sanitary products available to all pupils and students.

This prompted students at Edinburgh Napier to try to tackle the wider issue of period poverty and create an environment in the university and beyond where menstruation could be discussed without fear or stigma.

The result was Bleedin’ Saor (Saor is Gaelic for free), a student-led project, supported by the university, which brought together students from disciplines including design, film, photography and events management, as well as international charities, businesses and campaigning organisations.

Funding for the project amounting to £20,000 was raised from sources including the Scottish government and Santander mobility grants.

Project leaders in the student placements office of the School of Arts and Creative Industries recruited a core student team of male and female students and liaised with external partners.

This student team brought in students from other disciplines and societies and worked closely with university departments, working within the university’s business incubator Bright Red Triangle.

In March 2019 they organised the first university Bloody Big Brunch, designed to break taboos around periods and promote discussion. The event drew 450 staff and students across the university’s three campuses and collected 400 donations of sanitary products.

They also contributed to the national Bloody Big Brunch campaign, coordinated by WIRE media, by producing designs for downloadable marketing material and video content.

A university design team worked with social enterprise Hey Girls, which sells “buy one give one” sustainable sanitary products, to design sanitary product dispensers to be placed in schools and community centres throughout Scotland.

Other elements of the project included menstruation stations dispensing machines set up on each campus at the university, and a social media campaign.

In June a group of students visited Uganda to meet organisations promoting menstrual health and to capture footage for a Bloody Big Documentary, due to be released in April 2020.

Runner up: Imperial College

Project: Agents of Change

Women in the White City area of London have employment rates 10% lower and earn salaries 20% lower, on average, than their male counterparts. For Black and Minority Ethnic women, these figures are even worse.

Many of these women are running projects on issues such as knife-crime, domestic violence, dementia and social isolation in order to benefit their community.

The Agents of Change project was developed after members of Imperial College, which has a campus in White City, were involved in a panel at an International Women’s Day event.

The panel was asked whether networks existed for supporting these women and it became clear that such networks were rare but would be highly valued.

A partnership was then formed between the college and four local organisations led by women: the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham (chief executive Kim Smith), the Lyric Hammersmith (director, Sian Alexander), Hammersmith United Charities (CEO, Victoria Hill) and Imperial (Alice Gast).

They committed to make available trainers, mentors, funding, administration time and space to establish and run the programme.

Meanwhile, a panel of local women came up with what the programme should look like, based on their knowledge and experience.

A launch event in 2018 opened the programme for membership, with members asked what they would like to gain from the network and what they could offer.

A website, events programme and quarterly network meetings followed, together with a leadership scheme, matching participants with mentors from a local businesses or organisations and awarding them with short course accreditation from the college.

Women who took part in a pilot developed content for the leadership scheme.

Agents of Change is now a network of more than 200 women, of all ethnicities and ages, who live and work in the area and has supported 32 women community leaders develop skills and confidence through the leadership scheme, which has had a 100% completion rate.


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