How Small CICs and Big Unis Can Work Together

Published by Sydney O'Connor on

Around 6 years ago, we started working with Leeds University. In many ways this has been a perfect match for both of us: there’s a surplus of young people wanting to do good in the community and get a live project to work on, and we have plenty of projects that we need help with! 

This relationship has been beneficial in many different ways. For example, for the past 3 years we’ve taken on students in their penultimate year for a year long placement. Bringing in students to work for us full time for a year has brought new perspectives and skills to our organisation. For the placement, it offers a unique insight into community development, and the opportunity to work on a broad range of projects to develop different skills and experiences. 

We also made use of our links with the uni in our flagship project, ‘Getting Active and Online’. We needed help to train up older people to use the tablets we have provided them, and volunteers from Leeds University have been doing this invaluable work remotely from the beginning. This has helped us to expand our capacity and get people online who thought they never could!

Zoom call with some of the participants of ‘Getting Active and Online’ with the volunteers from Leeds University

We also recruited a student, Freddie Noonan, to create a promotional video for the project, which we have got fantastic feedback on. Check it out for yourself here:

The amazing video Freddie made for us!

Outsourcing tasks like this to students helps them to build their portfolio, showcase their skills and produce material that is far beyond that which we could make ourselves! 

In addition to this, for the past few years students from the school of sociology and social policy have helped us with research through a work placement module in their second semester. Feedback from the students is that they have found the work enriching, and a welcome change from the classroom. 

On the topic of our relationship with Leeds University, our director Tony Mullin said:

“I’m always baffled as to why more third sector organisations don’t have stronger links with their local uni, maybe partly because it can be tricky to know who to approach in such a large and multi faceted organisation?”

“One area where we would like to have closer ties with the uni is research. We kind of know intuitively that there is a rationale to what we do, but we could really do with a bit of help in creating that evidence base for our activities, and in measuring and monitoring the impact we are having. Any takers?!”

There we have it, a million reasons to reach out to your local education institution. Thank you to The University of Leeds for supporting our small organisation for the past couple of years, here’s to more collaborations in the future.



Categories: YBY News