Manchester Met Students Continue to Make a Difference Outside the Classroom

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By Damilola Oladokun

Last week the Manchester Metropolitan University’s Faculty of Humanities, Languages and Social Science celebrated the achievements of students who have excelled in various extra-curricular activities at the third installment of The Make a Difference Awards.

Nominees and winners were praised for their achievements in areas ranging from working on media and Schools’ Outreach projects to departmental societies, which all have great impact on Manchester Met and the wider community.

IMG_9109The evening was opened by Dr Chris Jones, Head of Student Engagement in the Faculty, who welcomed the audience on a rather cloudy Friday stating that the Faculty believes that, “your course is more than what you do in the classroom”.

Chris went to explain that The Make a Difference Awards highlights the huge amount of talent and potential within the Faculty and the passion students have for their subjects. The awards also aim to recognise and reward outstanding effort and showcase how 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 the local community.

Kaye Tew, Head of IDEA (Initiatives & Developments; Extra-curricular Activities), led the introductions to the awards giving thanks to the students from the faculty who have benefited from participation in projects and placements during the academic year. She also praised the nominees as people who stood out to staff as eager to make a difference to their future lives.

Kaye added, “More than 65 students from across the Faculty have worked this year as HLSS Schools Outreach Ambassadors, a further 70 have volunteered to work on the Manchester Children’s Book Festival, over 70 students have attended Student Press Office training and have written articles for Humanity Hallows with numerous others working on the Humanities in Public Festival and on student societies and other student-led projects.”

IMG_9251It was a night to remember for all the nominees and winners in the different categories celebrating excellence, dedication, perseverance and hard work. A handful of this year’s winners were also victorious this year, Amarpreet Kaur, BA (Hons) Sociology, who won the Student Choice Award.

A surprise presentation was given to Claudia Conerney students working on Schools’ Outreach. They thanked her for the great support and encouragement she gives to them, stating that without her help they would not have being able to achieve all that they have. Surprised by the award, Claudia expressed her appreciation and joy for the work that she does saying, “These fantastic students make my job a real pleasure and I encourage you all to keep up the great work.”

‘I Made a Difference’ Award: Natalie Szrejder, BA (HONS) Philosophy

The awards for the Student Led Projects Category was presented by Make a Difference Officer, Lisa Bach. Lisa presented Natalie Szrejder with the ‘I Made a Difference’ Award, praising her for the inspiring and inventive series of events covering a variety of topics educating students, staff and the public about mental health. Natalie’s work has raised awareness about mental health and has positively worked towards ending the stigma and discrimination towards it. Therapeutic hobbies was one of the ways where she has worked towards ending the stigma and discrimination towards mental health through cooking classes such as the chocolate factory as well as through upcycling sessions around fashion.

RUNNERS UP: Amarpreet Kaur, Eleanor Witcher

Student Project Leadership Award: Eleanor Witcher, BA (HONS) English

Eleanor embraced her degree subject and has put her learning into practice by setting up a community initiative at the Moss Side Powerhouse Library with the guardians of the children attending our Schools’ Outreach Homework sessions. She has recognized that one of the most important aspects of supporting adults with low literacy levels is to increase their self-esteem and persuade them of the benefits of improving their reading and writing, recognize what they can do and acknowledge improvements to their skills.

Community Impact Award: Caed Whittle, Combined (HONS) Philosophy & Psychology, and Liam McCaffrey, MA Philosophy

IMG_9134This award was shared by a duo who despite having the busiest academic year arranged to create over 100 harm reduction pack, having researched and written it themselves. The packs were handed out at the Manchester’s biggest Halloween festival with over 5,000 clubbers in attendance. Lisa Bach who presented the awards said the project has had the biggest community impact since the start of the Create Your Own Opportunity project.

Student Press Office Writer of the Year Award: Jack Holmes, BA (HONS) Film & Media Studies


The awards for the Student Press Office at MMU were presented by Natalie Carragher. Winner Jack Holmes has covered a series of events across the city. He demonstrated excellent teamwork, professionalism and an infectious enthusiasm. He is very engaging and his witty and interesting style of writing attracts huge views. He is also always looking for opportunities for the progress of the Humanity Hallows team.

RUNNERS UP: Daniel Broadley, Freddie Bruhin-Price, Kalman Dean-Richards, Jacqueline Grima, Jamie Ryder, Nateisha Scott, Joanna Shaw, Jamie Stewart.

Student Press Office Editor of the Year Award: Olivia Wright, BA (HONS) History


Olivia showed great enthusiasm and leadership skills in her role as editor for the Student Press Office. The passion, drive and determination showed by her have seen her lead and motivate fellow writers and editors to produce high quality work across the board. The huge investment in both time and energy shown by her has led to great successes, of not only the editorial team, but to the Student Press Office as a whole.

RUNNERS UP: Jessica Carruthers, Jacqueline Grima, Darragh Kempson

Outstanding Contribution to the Student Press Office Award:  Jacqueline Grima, MA Creative Writing

IMG_9158Jacqueline showed great enthusiasm and determination that as seen Humanity Hallows grow from strength to strength this past year. She did not only produce high quality articles for University events and beyond, she also actively chased down her own stories, developing leads, contacts and motivating fellow team members along the way. Earlier this year, she embarked on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, travelling to Poland to join a press team where she demonstrated an exceptional leadership skill.

Under her leadership, she has collaborated on and produced three hugely successful printed editions with the help of other press office. She has helped to establish the project as commercially viable, meaning students will be able to ensure the longevity of the continued success of this flagship humanities project.

RUNNERS UP: Jack Holmes, Lucy Watson

HLSS Schools’ Outreach Ambassador Award: Charlotte Anderson, BA (HONS) History


The award presented by Claudia Conerney described Charlotte as an outstanding member who has been consistent since she joined the ambassador’s scheme in 2013.  She is always the first to volunteer her time for opportunities; she is extremely well organized, proactive and engaging.

RUNNERS UP: Hannah Bickerton, Amama Forjani, Ayesha Keogh, Hanan Ben Nafa, Rose Rawstron, Marina Sevcova, Isobel Smith

Schools’ Outreach Mentor Award: Ben Parker, Combined (HONS) Criminology & Psychology


Always smiling and positive Ben has grown considerably in confidence and leadership skills over the past two years. He demonstrated that he is willing to take on new challenges and has the ability to help his peers by allowing them to shadow his workshops and help facilitate them. In this way, Ben surpassed all expectations and has become a core part of the scheme

RUNNERS UP: Claire Ferdinando, Hanan Ben Nafa, Ben Parker, Isobel Smith

Schools’ Outreach Ambassador Rising Star Award: Saffron Mir, Combined (HONS) Philosophy and Sociology

Saffron volunteered her time for every opportunity. She showed considerable leadership skills. She is meticulous, organized and is always willing to step in, help other ambassadors and visit pupils who have testified of her excellent ability to put them at ease

RUNNERS UP: Sabia Begum, Jessica Cooper, Matthew Paul Flowers, Saffron Mir, Amie Richardson

Humanities in Public Ambassador of the Year Award: David Heffer, BA (HONS) Linguistics

This award was presented by Helen Darby. She described David as a Humanities in Public ambassador who always looks to go above and beyond, and is proactive in finding new tasks to do and ways to make an event more successful and enjoyable, whether by employing his charm and personality, or by doing some extra manual work. He is always extremely professional, takes pride in all his work and has a genuine interest in the subjects covered by events. David always steps up to a challenge, and will have a smile on his face while he does it.

Departmental Society of the Year: Ancient History and Classical Society


This society organized various socials, charitable fundraising drives, and academic field trips to archaeological sites and museums, all for students within the faculty and university as a whole. They have a steady number of attendees at each event they run, and have raised more than £500 for local charities. They have worked alongside other departmental societies, such as Foundation Year and the Criminology & Sociology societies to meet objectives for fundraising events. Three students jumped on this opportunity to create a society dedicated to this area, and they have since played a vital role helping welcome new students into the faculty, and providing social and academic support for students in their discipline.

RUNNER UP: Avis – MMU MA Creative Writing Society

Student Choice Award: Amarpreet Kaur, BA (HONS) Sociology


Course representatives help students settle in to their course and help make positive changes towards facilities available, teaching and learning, and timetabling. As a student rep, Amarpreet  is always available to answer students’ questions and never stops until she has found answers. She has also been the driving force for the Time to Change society over the past three years, and has organized countless mental health awareness events that are not only informative and though-provoking, but are also creative and fun.

RUNNER UP: Robert Harper

Student Placement of the Year Award: Faith Stanford, BA (HONS) Public Services

The award was presented by Dr Roz Fox. Faith organized her own sandwich year placement at Challenger Sports, an American soccer coaching company in the US. Her main role was as a Challenger club trainer and she was placed in soccer clubs. She worked as a camp director and summer coach and was put in charge of several camps along the west coast of Canada and the U.S. Her role was to lead a team of coaches, secure contracts and promote Challenger Sports. She experienced the highs and lows of dealing with personnel but received very positive feedback from her teams, clubs and management and gained confidence and vital experience. Alex Green, National Academy Manager spoke of Faith as having “a natural rapport with young children,” and mentioned that her “genuine enthusiasm and zest for life has won her many friends, with several clubs asking for her specifically to coach their children and host families requesting her return.” Faith has shown commitment and dedication to her role as a representative of Challenger Sports, so much so, she won coach of the year award for 2014 and has been offered a full time job on completion of her degree.

RUNNERS UP: Emma Burrows, Greg Whittaker

Student Volunteer of the Year Award: Cameron Hearns, BA (HONS) Public Services and Meagan Stabler, BA (HONS) Public Services

This award also presented by Dr Roz was shared by two deserving students who worked together with the Wood Street Mission as part of the ‘Public Services in the Community’ unit. The Wood Street Mission provide clothing, books and gifts to children in Salford and Manchester and have recently undergone a complete business transformation process regarding how goods are chosen and distributed to vulnerable families. Both students worked in a variety of roles, including sorting the donations and managing the shop, fulfilling the requests of families and collecting payment. Wood Street Mission manager Des Lynch said “they were brilliant, really reliable, always on time. They were excellent, a pleasure to have around and really helped out when we were really short staffed. I cannot speak highly enough of them”.

RUNNERS UP: Benjamin Cassidy, Cameron Hearns, Amie Richardson, Meagan Stabler, Cerise Woodhouse

Community Engagement Award: Alexander Robb, BA (HONS) Public Services


As part of his first year Public Services course, Alexander was invited to spend time shadowing Northwards Housing’s Welfare Reform and Money Advice Teams.  He impressed staff at Northwards early on in his placement as he was extremely interested in the subject of welfare reform and the impact on tenants and had researched the topic thoroughly before starting. The areas in which he worked are challenging and often involve listening to very stressful and complex situations. Tracy Langton, Project Lead of Welfare Reform said that his placement presentation “demonstrated that he has truly understood how difficult the challenge can be and that he has a real willingness to learn”. Tracy Panesh, Money Advisor Northwards said that “Alexander was empathetic and showed real compassion for the issues faced by people in light of the Welfare Reforms. He was always punctual, smart and engaged well with our clients.  The questions that he developed for the recorded interview we conducted showed real insight into relevant issues and a sound understanding of the social issues being faced.  I have no doubt that he will be an asset to public service in whatever capacity he chooses”.

RUNNER UP: Agnieszka Obszanski

Community Partnership Award: Central Library & Archives+


This organization has been a key partner for the HLSS Faculty, and has provided students within the Faculty with the opportunity to volunteer on numerous children’s events they host, including Saturday Spectacular and Sunday Fun Day’s. The experience of working in an organization outside of Manchester Met has helped students gain valuable employability and networking skills that they will benefit from in the near future. Volunteering for their events has also opened up new project prospects with collaborations being generated, such as Culture Club, and the new student-led Adult Literacy project.

Kaye Tew, on behalf of the faculty, thanked all the staff at the Manchester Central Library and Archives+ for all the fantastic work they do with our staff and students, and the community of Greater Manchester.

RUNNER UP:  Moss Side Millennium Powerhouse

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

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