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Community work recognised with a national award


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Students’ efforts to support communities across Leicester have been recognised with a national award.

De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) was named the winner of the Commitment to the Local Community Award, set up by the Better Society Awards to recognise the efforts of commercial organisations across the UK.

VOL Laura
Students delivered vital PPE kit during the pandemic

DMU’s volunteering and community work is run by its public engagement team at DMU Local, which works with staff and students who want to make a difference.

Judges were impressed with the breadth and depth of more than 100 projects which DMU Local had supported in 2019/20. They include supporting primary school children with reading and mathematics to helping the homeless and staffing food banks.

VOL group shot

Although many of the projects came to a halt due to the pandemic, DMU Local quickly adapted to new challenges. Volunteers worked with partners such as Leicester City Council to deliver Covid-19 tests to households and staffed E2 in Beaumont Leys, preparing and delivering food to isolated families.

Fi Donovan, Head of Public Engagement, said: “It’s great to see the contribution of DMU students being recognised in this way – the efforts they make and commitment they provide to the local community is something everyone at DMU can be rightly proud of.  From regular sessions in schools to support individual learning to raising awareness and supporting appeals for vulnerable or isolated groups, the students provide benefit to both our local and wider communities.

"It is part of life at DMU to consider our relationship with the local community and engaging with the work of DMU Local is one part of the whole DMU experience, as a student or as a member of staff."

Mark Evans, of Better Society Awards, said: “The ideas that have helped us through this difficult time, each and every entry proved that new solutions can produce great results.

“This entry [for Commitment to the Local Community] offers a palpable sense of the immediate and lasting picture of good work.”

The university’s volunteering programme, DMU Local, uses the knowledge and skills of students and staff to support and work with communities in Leicester and strives to make a lasting positive impact across the city.

By working alongside key partners such as Leicester City Council, Leicestershire Police and local NHS Commissioning Groups, DMU develops projects that improve education, enhance health and wellbeing and support regeneration.

In the year to April 2020, DMU students contributed 20,465 hours of volunteering to more than 100 programmes. This includes 400 students who have been working hundreds of hours alongside teaching staff at primary and secondary schools, many in the city. DMU volunteers went to work in more than 40 schools, while 20 schools sent their pupils to the campus for activities.  

DMU Local’s wide range of projects include Paired Reading, Mathletics, Playdough, Excel Yourself, education placements and Leicester’s first LEGO league. The Mathletics sessions alone have helped more than 300 maths pupils in year 6 to improve their skills ahead of their Key Stage 2 SATs.

DMU’s partnership with the city council expanded into Thurnby Lodge, where student volunteers help with the youth club on the estate and also the popular weekly pop-up café for the elderly, which many have credited with helping reduce social isolation among the estate’s older residents.


Posted on Wednesday 9th December 2020

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