A record number of student volunteers are set to work across Leicester over the next 12 months to help boost literacy rates, support healthcare projects and find creative new uses for disused city spaces.
De Montfort University Leicester (DMU)’s #DMUlocal team last night launched its ambitious 2016/17 volunteering programme which will be its biggest yet.
From recruiting potential lifesavers to the UK stem cell register with the Rik Basra Leukaemia Trust; being a mentor for a child needing some extra support; or planning a community arts event to bring in the crowds, students can use their talents to help others and build new skills.
Professor Dominic Shellard, Vice-Chancellor of DMU, said: “This is a new era, a step change in the partnership between DMU, the city council and the community.
“We have seen some tremendous results in schools where our students have been mentors and this year we began working with refugee families arriving in Leicester.
“We have thought long and hard about expanding across the city but we feel excited that our students can deliver real, positive change in Leicester working alongside its communities.”
Working in partnership with Leicester City Council, #DMUlocal will offer students the chance to get involved with a huge number of projects that aim to deliver lasting positive impact, underpinning DMU’s belief that universities should be a public good.
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#DMUlocal has three main areas of focus – health, regeneration and education. Priorities are identified in collaboration with the council, police, NHS and community groups, with projects created to meet those needs. Opportunities are advertised to students by DMU Square Mile.
One example is boosting literacy rates as part of the council’s existing Whatever It Takes campaign to help tackle low literacy levels in some areas of Leicester. #DMUlocal plans to recruit 1,000 student volunteers to work in city schools to mentor children and run paired reading sessions to support youngsters.
Students can also volunteer to gain practical experience in health roadshows run alongside the NHS, offer free hearing tests to the public or support diabetes work in Leicester where the disease has one of the highest incidence rates in the UK.
And plans are in place for DMU ReSurfaced, a pop-up arts and cultural festival to transform a disused area of Leicester, as well as a new business network run by Leicester Castle Business School to help city companies.
Councillor Sarah Russell, Assistant City Mayor for Children and Young People, said: “It’s an absolute delight to celebrate this year of #DMUlocal. The impact it has had on individual residents’ lives and their families has been absolutely huge.
“It has changed people’s lives. I have seen residents access employment because they have been given new skills; seen children pass SATs thanks to mathletics programmes; these things are not short term.”
One student who has seized opportunities offered by #DMUlocal Sarah Clarke. Sarah, a volunteer mentor for children at New College, Leicester, is now starting an MA in English Language Teaching after finding her passion through volunteering with DMU Square Mile.
She said: “It’s been life-changing for me. It’s about the opportunities and knowing that you can make a difference. Without the mentoring I would never have found my vocation – teaching.”
Posted on Tuesday 27th September 2016