The UPP Foundation, a charitable trust created by the University Partnerships Programme (UPP) to help tackle the biggest issues facing the higher education sector across the UK, has today pledged £40k in funding over two years to help students build stronger, more cohesive communities.
Working with Student Hubs, a charity that collaborates with universities to support students to tackle social challenges in their communities, the grant will fund the ‘One Community Forum’ project across three locations over two years. Students from the University of Oxford, Oxford Brookes University, and the University of Southampton (with the third and final location to be confirmed) will partner with their local councils, working together to identify the needs of their communities and to co-design projects where student social action can make a significant difference.
In bringing together a diverse range of stakeholders, the project will help to create a sense of belonging and unity between universities, students and the local area, as well as enable universities to grow their impact within their communities. The proposed approach of the ‘One Community Forum’ project will use the expertise and skills available within the university, mobilising resources that have previously been inaccessible to residents.
The student volunteering programme will contribute to the wellbeing of the local community, while also benefitting students’ employability.
To kick off the project, a range of university and community partners, and students, recently came together to talk about issues affecting young people in Oxford. The ‘One Community Forum’ project helped students to develop project plans aimed at tackling social issues and forms part of the Oxford Hub’s incubation process for setting up new projects based on community need.
Dr Paul Marshall, Chair of the Board of Trustees at the UPP Foundation, said: “The UPP Foundation supports projects that help foster partnership and collaboration between universities and their local communities. Our partnership with Student Hubs creates a double benefit. The student volunteering programme will contribute to the wellbeing of the local community, while also benefitting students’ employability. Both of these benefits are aligned with the agendas of HE institutions, showing that high-quality social action can contribute to deliver against university strategy.”
Francis Wight, CEO of Student Hubs, said: “We are very excited to be entering into this partnership with the UPP Foundation to deliver the One Community Forum project in three cities. Student social action has a double benefit – for the students taking part and the communities they’re volunteering in. That’s why it’s vital to make sure our projects are designed in partnership with local communities, students, and universities to ensure they provide tailored development opportunities for students that will deliver tangible community benefit. The One Community Forum project will allow us to bring these groups together and maximise the impact of our work.”
Wendy Vrij, CSR Engagement Officer at Oxford Brookes University said: ‘Enabling young people to make a positive impact in the world is core to our mission as a University. The One Community Forum offers a great platform to help align our current efforts with county-wide goals, share experiences with public, private and charitable organisations and work collaboratively towards increasing impact in the Oxfordshire youth sector.’