Thursday 29th May 2014, Humanities, Languages & Social Sciences Faculty of Manchester Metropolitan University
Students were celebrated at the first Make a Difference Awards this week when they received recognition for the impact they have had on Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) and the local community.
Over a hundred students, staff and supporters listened as Duncan Lockhart, Student Engagement Officer at MMU, described the achievements of the special students who were nominated and won various awards. Cheers were sounded at the names of nominated students and applause echoed loudly through the Geoffrey Manton building’s atrium, not just because of the free wine and beer, but because every achievement was worthwhile. The students accepted their trophies for their achievements outside of their academic studies, proving that university isn’t just about getting an education or being social, but so much more.
Dean of Faculty, Dr Sharon Handley explained that over 300 students have helped the university, students and community and this was the faculty’s way of saying thank you. She described how students had engaged with charities through volunteering opportunities, had encouraged children through workshops in the local community, opened the humanities to the general public and had made a real difference in the lives of other students. Handley’s pride was clear when she spoke of how the skills of Humanities, Languages and Social Science (HLSS) students had been demonstrated as leadership, project management and creative and critical thinking. These skills, she said, were not restricted to the classroom. The partnerships with organisations for placements, work experience and volunteering proved that students can solve real world problems.
The awards highlighted organisations that have given students placements and opportunities, such as Greater Manchester Police, Bolton at Home, Bolton Art Gallery and Museum, and engaged with charities such as UK Recovery Walk, Stroke Association and Samaritans, but also how students can help their fellow students. Students were awarded prizes for their leadership skills in running projects that have helped patients at the Manchester Children’s Hospital, students who find themselves tempted by drugs, and the university in its campaign to remain the UK’s number 1 green university. The achievements by the students are amazing, especially considering they have done all this while studying for their degrees, many of them in a city they didn’t know a year or two earlier.
The Student Press Office, which produces this website, was given special mention as becoming almost indispensable to the Faculty, covering events such as the hugely successful Humanities in Public events and the Carol Ann Duffy & Friends series at The Royal Exchange Theatre. Winner of the award for ‘Outstanding Contribution to the Student Press Office’ was Kevin Danson, who graduates from MMU this year, and will be missed. After receiving the award, Kevin said it was “amazing, I never expected it” though other members of the press office disagree that it was unexpected, considering Kevin’s hard work over the years, founding and building Humanity Hallows. Winner of ‘Student Writer of the Year’ was Neil Harrison, who said “I was genuinely surprised at first, but happy”. When asked about his introduction, which included mention of his ‘sometimes controversial’ content, Neil replied, “You have to push the boundaries if you want people to read what you give them. You have to leave your comfort zone and spike debate.” Neil’s success as a writer has overflowed from Humanity Hallows, being a published journalist in local and national newspapers, proving that a student press office can be an excellent foundation for any writer interested in journalism.
A warm speech was given by Deborah Green for winners of the ‘Academic Society of the Year’ and ‘Student Community Impact Award’, which both went to the History Society. Green stopped short of giving them Spice Girl style nicknames but close enough. Sally – a cool head, Kate – sharp and determined, Helen – the persuader, Ruth – full of ideas and energy, Natalie – marketing and social media giant. The society had an impact on more than just History students, and over the course of the last academic year, have supported charities and students with their endless energy and cake baking skills.
This special evening was a way for the university to say thank you to some outstanding students and it was clear that the students were grateful for recognition of their hard work.
Full details of the winners and nominees:
Student Placement of the Year Award: Georgina Rodgers
Georgina Rodgers has been very successful on placement with the Greater Manchester Police, demonstrating the responsibilities she was given by her managers. This student was asked by the national team to assist with managing the roll-out of cadet units in all forces across the UK, modelled on the GMP pilot. Over the last year this student has also represented Greater Manchester Volunteer Police Cadets on projects in Poland, Finland and London. They spoke to organisations from several countries about the Volunteer Police Cadets, facilitating discussion on joined up working and establishing police cadets in countries across Europe. This student has clearly made a significant and positive difference both to the cadet teams she leads as well as to the work of the service nationally.
Runners up: Matt Harney, Daniel Lee, Nazneen Ismail, Redji Kercyku, Nicky Watson
Community Engagement Award: Jilly Larard
Jilly Larard spent her placement with Bolton at Home Registered Social Landlord and assisted the Women’s Community Development Officer in a Women’s Centre. This involved working with vulnerable women many of whom had experienced domestic, sexual abuse or female genital mutilation. The centre enables the women to develop their skills to improve their employability and self-confidence, and provides a safe, social environment to build networks with other women. This student helped to organise projects for the women, set up workshops as part of the campaign for the 16 days of activism against gender violence. She was instrumental in helping to deliver ‘Beyond the Mask’, a domestic abuse awareness project focused on representations of women’s emotional experiences. She supported local women in making the masks (and speaking French with some of them) and also curated the mask exhibition at Bolton Art Gallery and Museum. This was a very challenging placement for a first year student, given the often harrowing situations the women had experienced and the need for a high level of sensitivity and social skills. She was a credit to herself and a tremendous asset to MMU.
Runners up: Matt Jacobs, Alex Turnbull, Samson Yitbareck
Student Led Project Leadership Award: Ciaran Weir for DrugSafeMMU & DanceSafeMMU Society
The great thing is the way Ciaran embraced what he has studied in the substance use unit and the way he has had the foresight to put his learning into practice by setting up a society that has the potential to make a difference to the health and well-being of our students. Ciaran has not stopped there. He has been working with other staff at MMU in supporting the UK Recovery Walk, which is estimated to attract 8,000 people in recovery from substance use. This has included helping to organise Manchester first ‘dry bar’ in the city centre, supporting the recruitment of students for the recovery walk and related events (i.e. conferences and film screenings) and making links with key local and national drug services and charities. His drive and leadership have been exceptional.
Runners up: Emily Taylor for Amnesty International Society project, Scott Tanswell for The Big Dig And Big Plant
Student Led Project Award for Community Impact Award: Scott Tanswell for the Big Dig and Big Plant
It’s safe to say that this project has made a big impact on the green spaces in and around MMU. Not only has Scott Tanswell taken over a large project from previous students, he has developed and built it into a fantastic asset for MMU, its green policy, and for the enjoyment of the student population. His ethos of group involvement and community spirit are a credit to him and his project. Thanks to him, MMU can now boast its very own edible garden, and there is more to come.
Runners up: Isobella Thornton for the Manchester Children’s Hospital Roof Garden, Amarpreet Kaur for the Time to Change awareness campaign, Ciaran Weir for DrugsafeMMU & DanceSafeMMU Society
Student Writer of the Year Award: Neil Harrison
Neil Harrison has shown a consistently high standard of written content. Not only has he produced high quality articles for Faculty and University events, he has also actively been chasing down his own stories, developing leads and contacts and going to great lengths to produce his stories. Sometimes controversial, but always well balanced, well reported, and true to the spirit of Humanity Hallows and the Humanities, his articles have a reputation for their excellence.
Runners up: Sam Friend, George Norris, Caroline Matthews, Angus Stewart, Justine Chamberlain, Sadna Choudhury, Lucy Simpson
Outstanding Contribution to the Student Press Office Award: Kevin Danson
Kevin Danson has been with Humanity Hallows since the start, and it was his drive, enthusiasm and determination that allowed Humanity Hallows to take root and grow into the organisation that it is today. Without his huge investment of time and energy, it’s doubtful whether the Student Press Office would even exist today. As the first Editor in Chief of Humanity Hallows, he has laid the foundations for generations to come.
Runners up: Lucy Simpson, Neil Harrison, Natalie Carragher, Sophie Bannister
Faculty School Outreach Ambassador of the Year Award: Rachel Webb
Rachel Webb has been a consistently positive, enthusiastic and committed outreach ambassador across all of our projects. She has not only delivered numerous workshops in schools, and worked on a number of projects and events at the University, but has also co-developed an entire education resource for a partner organisation. She has been a shining example of our fantastic team of outreach ambassadors.
Runners up: Hannah Sykes, Rose Rawstron
Outreach Ambassador Rising Star Award: Rose Rawstron
Rose Rawstron has made a big impression on the team in the IDEA office, with her enthusiasm, professionalism, and work ethic. She has excelled on the projects she has worked on, and been an asset to the Schools Outreach Team. We hope very much to continue working with her over her next two years at MMU.
Runners up: Charlotte Anderson, Saira Adil, Callum Heaton, Jordan Hinchcliffe, Madeleine Moussima, Isobel Smith
Humanities in Public Ambassador of the Year Award: David Heffer
Since opening in September 2013 this year’s Humanities in Public festival has covered topics as diverse as the gothic, global society and citizenship, women in philosophy, feminism in the 21st century, encountering corpses, plastic surgery and body image, and cultural geography and our sense of place. Working both to welcome the public into the university and also to take our research out into the wider community, this year has seen HiP in action at The Manchester Museum, City Art Gallery, John Rylands Library, The International Anthony Burgess Foundation and Sacred Trinity Church. The events have been a roaring success, attracting around 3000+ individual visits across the festival activities. These events could not have run so smoothly without the enthusiasm and dedication of the brilliant student ambassadors that have helped out at every single event. Every HiP ambassador has been chosen not just because they are keen and capable in helping with registrations and setting up stalls, but because they have expressed an interest in the subjects we present and a willingness to engage with our visitors on these topics.
Every HiP amabassador has been a valuable asset to the success of the programme and it is very hard to single out one person for individual praise, however special mention goes to David Heffer for his keeness, maturity and endlessly upbeat nature and to Alex Martin and Angus Stewart for their sterling work promoting the ‘Humans of HiP’ blog feature – showing great confidence in interviewing the public from cold and delivering top quality photography to boot. I am massively grateful to have worked with such a bright, insightful and hardworking group of students from across the University.
Runners up: Alex Martin, Angus Stewart
Humanities in Public Media Award: Alex Martin
Throughout the year, students work on a variety of mediums to help promote the HiP programme through blogs, photographs, interviews, podcasts and more. This award recognises the vital contribution students play in producing high quality media content for the programme in order to help the Humanities, Languages and Social Sciences reach a wider public audience. This award is for the student whose contribution to the HiP Media has been creative, engaging, and helped the series engage with a new audience.
Runner up: Angus Stewart
Awards for Student Community Impact & Student Academic Society:
The History Society – Sally Davies, Kate Allcroft, Helen Cole, Ruth Dearden, Natalie Ann Carragher
This award is to recognise the hard work of students who run and manage the academic student societies within our Faculty. Societies have a function to not only provide activities for students to socialise in (outside of normal classroom hours) but also act as informal (and often formal) mentoring and peer support groups, charity and fundraising agents, and organisers of events. Academic Student Societies have a big impact on the student community at MMU, and often make a significant difference to the student experience. The Student Community Impact Award recognises activities that make a difference to the student community in this Faculty, and the Academic Society of the Year Award recognises the outstanding contribution of one of our academic societies within the Faculty. This year, beyond a doubt, one society have excelled themselves. The History Society have made a big impact on the community here at MMU, they have run a range of inclusive social events for all History students, have raised over £2000 for a selection of charities, and have organised a sell-out Holocaust Survivors Talk.
What stands out is, alongside the wide range of social events they laid on to ensure inclusivity and accessibility for all students, is the individual attributes each girl brought to the group. Sally brought a cool head, amazing managerial skills and her unswerving smile. She is a genuine delight. Kate’s sharp mind and determination were essential to the mix and Helen’s incredible ability to capture the crowd in promoting events was something they could not have done without. Ruth and Natalie, both Combined Honours students broadened the membership base, but added much, much more too. Ruth is a powerhouse of ideas and energy and drove events along. Natalie the promotional brains made events ‘live’ through Social media and poster campaigns. Alongside this, all five of the girls kept their academic determination going and managed the fine line between academic work and social life wonderfully. I cannot praise them enough and will miss them all when they go on to no doubt great futures at the end of this year. They are to me perfect examples of the high calibre of students this faculty produces.
Community Partnership Award: Steven Giles, Lauren James (Sociology Graduate), Duncan Ayerst (Philosophy Graduate) from the Community Change Foundation
The final award is an award for the organisation that has had an outstanding relationship with MMU’s Faculty of Humanities, Languages and Social Sciences, and who in partnership with the Faculty, Department and members of staff, continues to make a difference and a positive contribution to the lives of the people of local communities in the Greater Manchester area.
This local organisation, based on the Hulme/Old Trafford boundary has been established for just over three years and from the commencement of the foundation, they have been heavily involved with our Sociology Department. The work that they are involved in really does make a difference to the local community. Their ethos is all about making positive change in local communities and they work with young people at risk of school exclusion, offending, gang violence through to ex-offenders who are trying to desist from crime. They provide free training, mentoring and conflict mediation and our students who have been involved in this type of work find it enlightening and highly rewarding. Their support and involvement with MMU also includes input into several of our undergraduate criminology units. This year they have provided guest lecture and seminar input for my final year unit Deviant Youth Lifestyles, on gangs and community responses. They have also provided input on other units around criminal justice interventions, prisons and desistance from offender lifestyles. They regularly support and attend public seminars and events in the faculty and are a constant feature in student dissertations. They are an invaluable partner and their input makes students engage with key concepts and facilitate a deeper level of understanding and student engagement with my units. I am sure that in future years this partnership with MMU and themselves will continue to grow and develop.
For more photos from the event, visit Humanity Hallows Facebook page.