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Students step up to help local communities in bumper term for good causes

Monday, 07 December 2020

Through their numerous acts of kindness, impressive feats of fundraising and concerted community campaigns, the University of Nottingham’s student groups have proved this term that it will take more than a global pandemic to slow them down.

Despite a difficult year, where they have faced significant disruption to their education and had to navigate a whole new approach to campus life under Covid-19 restrictions, the University’s numerous societies and charitable organisations have pulled together to support people in need in the communities around them.

Whether it be providing lunches for local children during the school holidays, getting Christmas gifts to underprivileged families or supporting the ambulance service by acting as First Responders in medical emergencies, the students have stepped up to do their bit and be a powerful positive force.

Incredible achievements

And now, as the majority of students prepare to leave campus for the winter break, the Students’ Union has written to the University’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Shearer West to highlight all their incredible achievements this term.

Josie Jessop, Students’ Union Sports Officer, said: “We wanted to do what we can in our officer positions to recognise how hard our student groups work to not only support each-other but also the local community.

“It really has been such a difficult term for students and we wanted to reflect how despite having to tackle their studies and a pandemic, they have also positively contributed to the local community on countless occasions. This is important to note in light of the negative narratives in the press that we see about students.”

It’s been a tough year for everybody, and our students are no exception. But to see the resilience and generosity of these young people who have given their time and energy to help others during these difficult times is nothing short of inspirational.
Professor Shearer West, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Nottingham

She added: We couldn’t be prouder and I would like to thank each and every one of them for the work they have done to support both our own community and those living in the communities around us.”

Going the extra mile

Students’ Union Activities Officer Denis Lelin said: “I am so inspired by the consistent positive impact our student groups have in supporting our community with charitable initiatives and stepping in to support fellow students’ mental health with their diverse offer of activities. All of this, while volunteering their time outside of studying and dealing with the implications of the pandemic themselves.

“A lot of the groups had to be flexible and adaptable to ensure that they adhere to the changing Covid-19 guidelines and are able to support others despite the barriers that the pandemic has posed. Our students’ dedication to supporting others is why I love my job and strive to better our students’ experience.”

Inspector Amy English, Neighbourhood Policing Inspector for the Arboretum, Berridge, Dunkirk & Lenton, Radford & Park and Wollaton East & Lenton Abbey of Nottingham City Central areas, said: "Nottinghamshire Police would like to thank all the University of Nottingham students who have been helping to keep this virus at bay by following all the rules and for exhibiting exemplary behaviour this term. It is really heart-warming to also hear about those that have gone the extra mile to help their local communities, for neighbours they may never even meet.

"Students in particularly have faced a real challenge throughout 2020 - not just by adapting to new surroundings across the county, but also by having their usual activities and studies radically changed due to the global pandemic.

"The vast majority of students have been law abiding, following government guidance daily and making a real positive contribution by going the extra mile to give back to the local area. You have really supported your newly adopted communities. For that I'd like to thank you.

"I'd also like to recognise that it's a very, very small percentage of students that are giving the majority a bad name and we need people to understand that. Please remember that despite the bad press, the majority of students in and around Nottingham have been brilliant role models to the public.

"We hope this good behaviour continues as we go forward when we welcome you all back to Nottinghamshire in 2021. We all hope you have a fantastic and safe festive period."

The round-up of good deeds and charitable achievements has included:

  • Inspired by the Marcus Rashford’s national to end child food poverty, the Men’s Football team distributed more than 200 free school meals to children over October half term by teaming up with St Paul’s RC Church in Lenton, while the American Football team organised a food collection for the Trussell Trust food bank.
  • Three very different student groups - Nightowls, Karnival, and Christian Union - have united to recruit more than 100 volunteers to support the university in delivering care packages to students in isolation. The scheme was so successful that the volunteers extended their initiative to offer ‘click and collect’ collections for isolating students in the community.
  • The Cheerleading Club has helped to make Christmas a little sweeter for children in the community by wrapping 976 Christmas presents in partnership with Operation Orphan.
  • The Table Tennis team has been raising awareness for mental health in students to show that being in teams/sport is a good way to overcome these. They used a statistic about mental health for each day, and then a challenge related to each statistic.
  • Students at the university have also raised more than £113,000 for the Movember charity. Students in groups including the Men’s Rugby Club and the Netball team have exercised continuously for 24 and 48 hours, grown moustaches, moved hundreds of kilometres throughout the month and teamed up with other student groups to organise quizzes and ultimately raise money for Movember.
  • This year our students have joined the University to deliver a collaborative Black History Month programme, the most engaging and successful that the University of Nottingham has seen so far. BME Network, African Caribbean Society, African Caribbean Medical Network, One Heritage Society, Nigerian Society, Ghanaian Society, East African Society, Somali Society, Sudanese Society have united to spearhead the programme together with other groups, delivering more than 30 events focusing on the education about and the celebration of Black History, including an online offer (such as the interview with the Chancellor, Baroness, Lola Young) reaching more than 4,000 students.
  • Nightline have had to adapt their internal processes to be able to operate from home during lockdown. Despite these challenges, the group has still taken 832 welfare calls equating to an incredible 3,350 hours on shifts.
  • The PhabSoc society usually takes children and young adults with disabilities (members) on day trips and events which they may otherwise not be able to experience. They have had to run these virtually given the current circumstance and have organised 2 virtual trips with 15 members attending each since September. In the first trip they partnered the company Electric Umbrella who used music to enhance the lives of their members by getting them to sing/dance for the day.
  • Student Action For Refugees (STAR) have been coordinating online English classes for refugees and asylum seekers in Nottingham.
  • Sutton Bonington Guild Organised a Christmas Shoebox Appeal for Link to Hope. They received 41 shoeboxes and raised £123 for the charity. The shoeboxes will go to underprivileged families in Eastern Europe. They also facilitated a donation point on campus for the new Kegworth Food Bank called the Kegworth Larder, so now our students also support food banks in Kegworth.
  • The Pro Bono Society Conducted workshops for four local schools (South Nottinghamshire Academy, Trent College, Derby Moor Academy and Nottingham Girls' High School) about accessing higher education providing them help with their applications and personal statements. They provided two live workshops with 30 students each and sent pre-recorded videos with resources to schools that could not accommodate live sessions.
  • To support members during lockdown, BML created a “well-being initiative”. BML, Nightline, and Cocktail & Flair Society all hosted events designed to connect members from the 11 different societies who signed up to get involved. BML also collaborated with the Business School to give out “Lockdown Essential kits” to 25 of their members to help their well-being during the last week of lockdown. Overall, the initiative was a great success as society members were able to connect with new people and prioritise their well-being during this difficult time.
  • Community First Responders are a student-run first-aid service helping taking ambulance calls in the community. Since September, they have supported 243 allocated patients, which include: 49 breathing problems, 57 medical emergencies, 20 unconscious, 12 falls and trauma, 8 cardiac arrests and 46 chest pains. In 67% of the situations this group arrived before the ambulance
Emma Thorne - Head of News
Email: emma.thorne@nottingham.ac.uk
Phone: 0115 748 4734
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Notes to editors:

The University of Nottingham is a research-intensive university with a proud heritage. Studying at the University of Nottingham is a life-changing experience and we pride ourselves on unlocking the potential of our students. We have a pioneering spirit, expressed in the vision of our founder Sir Jesse Boot, which has seen us lead the way in establishing campuses in China and Malaysia - part of a globally connected network of education, research and industrial engagement. Ranked 103rd out of more than 1,000 institutions globally and 18th in the UK by the QS World University Rankings 2022, the University’s state-of-the-art facilities and inclusive and disability sport provision is reflected in its crowning as The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2021 Sports University of the Year. We are ranked eighth for research power in the UK according to REF 2014. We have six beacons of research excellence helping to transform lives and change the world; we are also a major employer and industry partner - locally and globally. Alongside Nottingham Trent University, we lead the Universities for Nottingham initiative, a pioneering collaboration which brings together the combined strength and civic missions of Nottingham’s two world-class universities and is working with local communities and partners to aid recovery and renewal following the COVID-19 pandemic.

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