Through the 3FF partnership with the British Council’s Active Citizens programme 45 young leaders from different faiths and beliefs participating in the ParliaMentors Programme. Having started their learning journey back in September 2017 with a series of introductory workshops focused on understanding the importance of ‘community’ and its relationship to ‘identity’ and ‘culture’, our Active Citizens have identified the needs within their communities and developed some amazing and exciting new social action projects cascading their learning locally.
In the London area the SOAS team is currently working on opening a free of charge Legal Advice Clinic for refugees and asylum seekers in collaboration with SOAS university, one of the largest institutions in the local area.
This project has involved their MP, the head of the legal department at the university, solicitors, countless law students and hundreds of hours of hard work. The result is an incredible five year business plan abiding by all current UK legislation, a £25,000 funding bid, sustainability way past the point at which they graduate, and of course an incredible local resource which will help countless people.
At the University of Nottingham, the Active Citizens on campus are working on a project called ‘Hidden Gems’. This project targets BAME student and aims to bridge the gaps in attainment at university level. It achieves this by empowering and encouraging students to set and achieve personal and professional goals beyond school and into further education. To bridge the gaps in attainment, the team held events that put a spotlight on the contribution that BAME youth make and have made to our society and gave students a tour of the university, an insight into different career paths and spoke about their own experiences.
Coventry based Active Citizens are developing a project aimed at improving the mental health services in Coventry. The team places focus on transparency, accessibility to services and erasing the stigma around mental health issues.
The team will help departments establish a student peer mentoring scheme, which is currently not in place at Coventry University. Here, the Active Citizens are focusing on building a sustainable mentoring scheme across the whole campus and is currently working on linking all the university faculties together to form a uniform system that could be advertised and utilised effectively by all the students on campus. The schemes will operate in the form of a ‘buddy system’, which will also provide the future mentors with Mental Health First Aid training and certification, as well as cascading learning and providing academic support to first year students.
The Birmingham City University team is currently developing a project that aims to tackle the epidemic of sexual harassment and assault in Birmingham. #CALLITOUT is a project started by BCU students to encourage the Birmingham community to engage and voice out what the victims cannot. Using social media campaigning and other marketing materials the aim of the projects is to increase crime accountability within Birmingham and surrounding areas.
Other teams are finding innovative solutions to community problems. The Nottingham Trent University Active Citizens are working on a social action project aimed at combating period poverty by collecting period supplies and challenging the stigmas around periods and women’s health. ‘Faith2Faith’ the project our Queen Mary University team is working on, aims to tackle the lack of religious cohesion on campus by gathering faith and non-faith students to work together on nurturing the allotment behind the Village Shop on campus.
Finally, we’ve seen incredibly innovative projects such as Salford’s team ‘Bricks & Mortar’ project, which aims to tackle housing inequality in Salford, by telling people’s stories and sharing their experiences online. Using this platform, the team aims to raise a greater awareness of the current housing crisis sweeping the UK. The students at the University of Manchester are collecting the experiences of students on campus and collecting data on the continuing issue of students feeling unsafe on campus. This will help them put pressure on the police, student’s union and university to improve safety in the local area.
The University of Birmingham’s team have been working with local schools to use their knowledge of applying for university, navigating campus life and making the most of all the opportunities available to them when they get there. Having already delivered some sessions they are in the process of incorporating the feedback and working with more local schools and further education establishments.
The ParliaMentors’ Active Citizens journey is coming to an end and they will be writing up their projects and what they learned this year in the coming month so keep an eye out for the outcomes of all these amazing projects.