UPP and Student Hubs launch One Community Forum in collaboration with Oxford Brookes

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Oxford Brookes University students in JHBB

The UPP Foundation, a charitable trust created by University Partnerships Programme (UPP) to help tackle the biggest issues facing the higher education sector across the UK, has pledged £40,000 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 Oxford Brookes University, the University of Oxford 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.

Enabling young people to make a positive impact in the world is core to our mission as a University

Wendy Vrij, CSR Engagement Officer

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 which have previously been inaccessible to residents. 

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 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 social responsibility efforts with county-wide goals, share experiences with public, private and charitable organisations and work collaboratively towards increasing impact in the Oxfordshire youth sector."

The Oxford Brookes Social Entrepreneur Awards (OBSEA) is an existing initiative run by the University in which proven business techniques and approaches are used address social and environmental problems and where profit is used to help to solve the issues.

OBSEA is an award-winning programme engaging students, staff and alumni that was set-up in 2012 to deliver co-curricular activities during semester time. These activities include raising awareness about the social responsibility of businesses, training and developing enterprise skills for the participants to become leading change-makers in the community, and mentor those who aspire to set-up a socially responsible business. 

Further information can be found on the OBSEA webpages where you can also register your interest in the scheme.