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DMU Square Mile makes finals in search for best community project in UK higher education

Students and staff at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) are celebrating after being shortlisted in a prestigious awards programme for its transformational work in the community.

DMU’s Square Mile project is a finalist for Outstanding Contribution to the Local Community in the Times Higher Education (THE) magazine's annual awards, known as the ‘Oscars’ of higher education. 

Combining our academics’ expertise with students’ enthusiasm and passion, DMU Square Mile offers potentially life-changing experiences to thousands of people in Leicester and beyond.

Mark Charlton, Head of Public Engagement at DMU, said: “"I think the scale of activity by our students and staff to benefit communities in Leicester is something to be celebrated, so I'm delighted that this shortlisting goes some way to recognising their work.

INSET paired reading

“DMU Square Mile is heading into an exciting new era. It will expand and become DMUlocal to utilise the university's knowledge and research to have even greater impact in Leicester, involving students, staff and our community partners. This shortlisting is a great way to kick-start that work."

DMU’s innovative approach leads the way in developing the public good agenda in UK higher education.  DMU Square Mile to use the skills of staff and students and staff to benefit the communities living in a square mile surrounding campus.

The programme has since expanded and grown to encompass all of Leicester and, with its increasing number of projects, more students are able to share their unique skills with the community.

Working across the city ensures projects reach the people who need them most and, by drawing on the diversity of our students, services can be provided to communities at risk of being isolated by cultural or language barriers.

Volunteering also improves students’ leadership, teamwork and problem-solving skills, ensuring they can continue to help communities across the UK long after they’ve left university.

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More than 50 projects have been created and delivered with DMU academics, while around 25 projects have been carried out through charities and Leicester organisations to strengthen community links.

Judges shortlisted DMU after hearing success stories including:

Free hearing tests, with audiology students screening 150 people and referring more than a quarter to the NHS for hearing aids

A DMU pop-up clinic also helped to diagnose glue ear in six-year-old Akhil Maroju and he is no longer getting into trouble with teachers who think he is ignoring them

The #Raceto1000 Leukaemia campaign saw a record-breaking 1,020 people sign up for the UK stem cell register in a single day in order to treat blood cancer. The event was supported by around 160 DMU students

At another Square Mile stem cell drive, held at the Highcross Student Lock In event, student Sarah Olsen registered as a donor and became a successful match to save a woman dying of leukaemia

Square Mile’s Homework Club India was launched, in which seven students travelled to Indore in Madhya Pradesh, India, to build a washroom that helps 150 girls a year, who could otherwise have dropped out due to a lack of sanitary facilities, stay on at school

The Square Mile Diabetes Project – which helped 400 people in Leicester with suspected type 2 diabetes – flew to L’Aquila University in Italy to share their skills

More than 100 students advised around 40 Leicestershire firms how to increase revenue as part of the BusinessWorks project

More than 500 children and their families took part in learning events on campus

As a result of the success of the Square Mile programme in the 2014/2015 academic year, DMU has expanded it to launch DMUlocal and DMU Square Mile India to share more skills in communities who need it most.

Posted on Friday 2nd September 2016

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