MMU Students Are Making a Difference

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By Freddie Bruhin-Price

Last week Manchester Metropolitan University’s (MMU) Make a Difference 2015 Awards Ceremony took place in inspiring fashion. Whether nominees or winners on the night, every student invited was lauded by University staff for the positive impact their extra-curricular efforts have had on the University and on the wider community of Manchester.

A crowd of nominated students and their guests, including colleagues and friends, listened intently in MMU’s Humanities, Languages and Social Sciences (HLSS) Faculty, as faculty staff presented awards, which recognised students’ achievements in areas ranging from media to school outreach projects and departmental societies.

IMG_1746Hosting the awards was Julie Scott Jones, Associate Head of the Sociology Department, who welcomed the audience in from the “slightly wet Wednesday.” Standing in for Dr Sharon Handley, Dean of the HLSS Faculty, Julie introduced the evening,

“The Make a Difference awards highlight the huge amount of talent and potential within the Faculty and the passion our students have for their subjects. They also aim to recognise and reward outstanding effort and showcase how our students have been able to apply skills such as critical thinking, creativity and communication to real-life situations in order to make a difference in our local community.”

Head of IDEA (Initiatives & Developments; Extra-curricular Activities), Kaye Tew, went on to present awards to victorious students, giving thanks to the 800 students from the faculty who have benefited from participation in projects and placements in the 12 months since the first HLSS Make a Difference Awards took place, and praised the nominees as people who stood out to staff as eager to make a difference to their future lives.

Julie Scott Jones praised the faculty for their enduring emphasis on enrichment, affirming that a university course from the department is not just what students do in the classroom, but also the extra-curricular activities in which they partake, working towards achieving for every student what she called, “the ultimate goal of employability and career readiness.” In particular, Julie attested that the HLSS Department benefits from the huge talent, commitment and enthusiasm of its students, and this is why, “HLSS leads the way in enrichment at MMU.”

It was particularly interesting to see some familiar faces beaming down from screens dotted about the room – that is, those who were winners in last year’s awards and whose endeavours in their fields have continued over the last twelve months. A handful of this year’s winners were also victorious last year, including Neil Harrison, now a final year History student, who was praised as an asset to the Student Press Office.

Kaye Tew explained that over 100 students have had Student Press Office training, and their hard work is recognised not only by staff but also by the many thousands of web users who visit Student Press Office site, Humanity Hallows, every month. Neil was recognised for his written content and editorial work, as well as organisation, leadership, vision and enthusiasm.

It was a night to recognise the achievements not only of winners, but also of nominees, whose very nominations are testament to their hard work over the last twelve months.

‘I Made a Difference’ Award: Amarpreet Kaur, BA (Hons) Sociology

IMG_1760The awards for the Student Led Projects Category were presented by Make a Difference Officer, Lisa Bach. Lisa presented Amarpreet with the ‘I Made a Difference’ Award, praising the inspiring and inventive series of events covering a variety of topics educating students, staff and the public about mental health. Amarpreet work has raised awareness about mental health and has positively worked towards ending the stigma and discrimination towards it. Her events have ranged from debates to inspirational talks and have even hosted a cooking series and interactive clay modelling session. She has worked tirelessly with her team to come up with and execute such fun and inventive ways of interacting with mental health issues.

Runners up: Ciarán Weir, Louis Hill and Scott Tanswell

Student Project Leadership Award: Ciaran Weir, BA (Hons) Sociology

IMG_1763It was fantastic how following his success in this category last year, Ciaran was able to consolidate his victory as he embraced his subject area and put his learning into practice in his Drug Policy Reform project, DrugSafe. The project, which aims at harm reduction in drug use among student communities, has its sights on becoming a national endeavour.

Runners up: Amarpreet Kaur, Louis Hill, Scott Tanswell, Varnavas Timotheou, Nicole Jackson and Amy Fogerty

Community Impact Award: Scott Tanswell, BA (Hons) History

After his hard work around MMU for his Big Dig and Big Plant schemes, which last year saw the University’s green spaces transformed, Scott received plaudits once again this year. He was instrumental in the creation of the MMU Sensory Shakespeare Garden, a space that has had a big impact on the recovery of patients at Manchester Children’s Hospital.

Runners up: Amarpreet Kaur, Ciarán Weir and Louis Hill

Outstanding Contribution to the Student Press Office: Neil Harrison, BA (Hons) History

IMG_1769The awards for the Student Press Office at MMU were presented by Dave Porter, who offered an extended citation for Neil Harrison. Neil is renowned amongst colleagues for his enthusiasm and determination, and has a reputation for excellence. He has repeatedly chased down his own stories, and his new initiatives, boosted by his massive investments of time and energy, have seen the Student Press Office go from strength to strength. Neil was described as a credit to MMU as a whole as he collected his award.

Runners up: Darragh Kempson, Abi Lillicrap and Sojourner McKenzie

Student Writer of the Year: Dan Broadley, BA (Hons) English and Creative Writing

First Year English and American Creative Writing Student Dan Broadley was praised for his enthusiasm, which is an example to other writers. His excellent coverage of a variety of events has shown his versatility, and a rare capacity for development with each article he submits for publication. He always engages fully with his subject and offers interesting viewpoints to readers. The future in journalism looks bright for Dan.

Runners up: Freddie Bruhin-Price, Helena Tomlinson, Jamie Ryder, Jacqueline Grima, Sojourner McKenzie, Bradley Shea, Joanna Shaw, Tiffany Bowman and Daisy Lacey.

Student Editor of the Year: Sojourner McKenzie, BA (Hons) English and Film

IMG_1772Student Editors have an important job at the Student Press Office. They have joint responsibility for the quality and consistency of the Office’s reportage. They are also required to lead and motivate other writers in their endeavours. Initially, Sojourner was in charge of making sure that new editors were trained and acting as a liaison between Editor-in-Chief, Neil Harrison, and other student editors. Her hard work this year has been invaluable to the Student Press Office.

Runners up: Olivia Wright, Jessica Carruthers, Lucy Simpson, Ambreen Iqbal, Lucy Harding, Darragh Kempson, Lydia Eve Grant, Kamila Jagla, Terri Wroe and Abi Lillicrap.

HLSS Schools Outreach Ambassador of the Year: Marie Basting, MA Creative Writing

Marie was an outstanding ambassador this year. She headed up the Dystopian Futures Workshop for children of Greater Manchester and was described as “an absolute pleasure – a delight to work with” by colleagues. She has also been instrumental in promoting MMU at English and Gothic study days as an ambassador, and her role has enabled her to further her career prospects while also helping the community.

Runners up: Rose Rawstron, Gemma Hall, Claire Ferdinando, David Llewellyn and Salwa Bouskouchi

HLSS Schools’ Outreach Mentor of the Year: Clare Ferdinando, MA Creative Writing

IMG_1785Clare was praised for the tremendous support she has provided for new ambassadors, helping ambassadors tailor their workshops to each school’s audience. The MA Creative Writing student began work as a mentor to earn a little bit of extra money during her study time, but her role has become a vocation and Clare is now considering Secondary School teaching as a career.

Runners up: David Llewellyn, Marie Basting, Rose Rawstron, and Megan Pearce

HLSS Schools’ Outreach Ambassador Rising Star Award: Katie Whyte, BSc (Hons) Digital Media and Communications

Katie Whyte’s citation for the award described her passion, commitment and effort to volunteer for every opportunity made available to her and predicted that she would have an extremely bright future.

Runners up: Abdul Bassett, Donna Mitchell, Rebekah Kirk, Bryony Chalke, Elisabeth Price and Emma Heathcote

Humanities in Public Ambassador of the Year: Fathiya Osman, Combined (Hons) History and International Politics

Fathiya has worked with Humanities in Public over the last two years on a range of diverse events including topics such as animal rights, Gothic writing and global futures. Fathiya was praised for her cheerful manner, and colleagues have observed that it is always a pleasure to see her chatting to others with infectious enthusiasm about what Humanities in Public has to offer.

Runners up: David Heffer

Humanities in Public Media Award: Neil Harrison, BA (Hons) History

Neil collected his second award of the evening with a hint of sheepishness, but he should feel nothing but pride in his achievements across two vastly different disciplines, both of which are theoretically contrary to his background of historical study. He has massively improved the media presence of Humanities in Public and displayed considerable filmmaking talent over the last twelve months.

Departmental Society of the Year: History Society

IMG_1799Societies often make a big difference to the student experience. The History Society has gone above and beyond their roles by making a difference to the community too, by raising significant sums of money for charities. It is a society whose concerns are not only with the past, but with how that past interacts with and affects the present and the future.

Runners up: CrimSoc Society and English Society

Student Community Impact Award: Languages, Lingistics & TE-Soc Society

IMG_1805The Languages Linguistics & TE-Soc Society have worked hard to organise events, which bring together Erasmus students and home students from all year groups, starting from induction with the city orientation event, and ongoing throughout the year. In the past only finalists have socialised with Erasmus students. Now, students from all years know visiting Erasmus students and can practice their language skills with them in informal settings thanks to the social events this society have organised.

Runners up: History Society

Peer Mentor of the Year Award: Ryan Kershaw, BA (Hons) Sociology

IMG_1808This was a very tough category to choose a winner for. Ryan has been responsible for engaging in worthwhile schemes which teamed peer mentors with the CrimSoc society last Summer to make an attractive welcome package for new students.

Runners up: Sarah Errey, Tryphine Joseph, Tara Cox, Simon Massey and Reema Rani Das

Student Placement of the Year Award: Ray Olaniyan, BA (Hons) Public Services

IMG_1811This award recognises a student on a placement who achieved above and beyond what is expected. Ray spent four days shadowing neighbourhood officers at Salford’s City West Housing Trust. He was praised as a very keen and pro-active member of the Housing Trust, and made a lasting impression, which was a pleasant surprise, especially for a First Year Student (Public Services).

Runners up: Briony Taylor, Simon Massey and Jennifer Cottrell

Student Volunteer of the Year Award: Jonathon South, BA (Hons) English and Film

IMG_1816Second Year English and Film student Jonathon was recognised for his efforts as a volunteer for the Manchester Children’s Book Festival, as well as work with the IDEA team, running the Storytelling Tent on Tour. He is hoping to support his future ambitions to become a primary school teacher.

Runners up: Joshua Todd and James Rowland

Community Engagement Award: Sebastian Meadows, BA (Hons) Public Services

IMG_1819Sebastian spent his placement at the Urban Care and Neighbourhood (UCAN) Centre in Breightmet, and worked admirably towards a scheme that aimed to encourage more people to abandon their state of political apathy and exercise their right to vote in the General Election. Sebastian made a real difference to the community.

Runners up: Nazneen Ismail, Katie Bliss and Amarpreet Kaur

Community Partnership Award: Moss Side Millennium Powerhouse


Established in 2000 by a Millennium Lottery Grant, the Moss Side Millennium Powerhouse works with residents of Moss Side between the ages of 18-25 to enrich their lives. Steve Flood, Neighbourhood Engagement and Delivery Officer for Moss Side Millennium Powerhouse, came to collect the award, and his closing speech gave a fitting ending note to a celebratory evening. He said he “felt like a fraud amongst you all.”

“You have all come here tonight to celebrate your achievements. I am here purely to attest that what you have done has made a huge difference to the young people of Moss Side. We have 20 young people who come to me on a daily basis asking when activities are going to be happening again, and to tell me how much fun they are having. I just want to say to you that this whole evening has been about making a difference, and all of you who are working with the community of Manchester, you are really making the difference. Thank you for working with the people of Manchester, and for working with young people – you do make a difference.”

Runners up: Manchester Art Gallery Educational Team, The LGBT Foundation and Portico Library

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aAh! Magazine is Manchester Metropolitan University's arts and culture magazine.

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