Social Responsibility

Outstanding public engagement initiative

Joint winner (staff)

Dr Joanne Jordan, Global Development Institute, School of Environment, Education and Development

The Lived Experience of Climate Change: A Story of One Piece of Land in Dhaka

Joanne examined the everyday realities of climate change on the lives of slum dwellers in Dhaka, Bangladesh. She decided to communicate her findings in an engaging way to challenge notions of how ordinary people experience and deal with climate change. She teamed up with the University of Dhaka to produce a traditional, interactive theatre performance combining melody, drama, pictures and dancing. This was first performed in the slum where the research was conducted. A film was made so the performance could be shared more widely.

Joanne says: "Winning a Making a Difference Award has provided crucial recognition for the tireless work of my project partners, the Department of Theatre and Performance Studies at the University of Dhaka and Green Ink. Without their hard work, passion and talent, this project would never have become a reality."

Watch Joanne's film.

Joint Winner (staff)

Dr Aala El-Khani, Professor Rachel Calam and Dr Kim Cartwright, Pyschology & Mental Health

Reaching out with Psychological First Aid

One of the significant consequences of war is the impact it has on children’s and parents’ mental health. Aala and her fellow researchers work with refugee families in war zones to provide families affected by trauma with psychological first aid to help them better care for their children. They have developed a parenting skills information leaflet and distributed copies inside bread parcels to over 3,000 Syrian families living in a conflict zone. The leaflet was adopted by humanitarian agencies and recently was distributed in newspapers in Pakistan, reaching over one million families.

Aala says: "Being awarded the Making a Difference Award is a real honor. The competition was so high with so many other fantastic and meaningful projects shortlisted for the award. Being recognized by the colleagues and peers with whom you work every day is incredibly encouraging and touching."

Watch Aala's film.

Highly Commended (staff)

#BritainBreathing Team, Infection, Immunity & Respiratory Medicine, School of Computer Sciences


With seasonal allergies on the increase, #BritainBreathing is an exciting digital citizen science project that involves the public in the creation and design of a smartphone app with the shared aim of gathering data to help us understand more about seasonal allergies.

Highly Commended (staff)

Dr Sarah Marie Hall, Geography, School of Environment, Education and Development

Everyday Austerity Exhibition

Sarah spent two years working with six families in Manchester to better understand the personal impacts of austerity on everyday family life. Everyday Austerity is the stunning exhibition that shares those insights through artefacts and striking images created by local artist Stef Bradley.

Highly Commended (staff)

Cloudy with a Chance of Pain Team, School of Biological Sciences, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences

Cloudy with a Chance of Pain

Cloudy with a Chance of Pain is a national smartphone study and citizen science experiment investigating the relationship between weather and pain. It aims to raise awareness of chronic pain and to encourage the public to participate in the research process.

Winner (student)

James Adams, School of Medicine


Research shows many young people who are diagnosed with cancer delay seeking help. Cancer Awareness in Teenagers and young people Society (or CATS) is an initiative which aims to raise awareness of the common signs and symptoms of cancer among young people. James runs events, creates merchandise and promotes awareness on social media to make sure every student knows what to look for and when to go and see their GP. Initially set up in Manchester, CATS now has societies in Cambridge and East London, with ones planned in Liverpool and Leicester.

James says: "It was great to receive recognition from the Making a Difference Awards as it really gave credit to the incredible hard work done by everyone in the CATS team, showing them how the University recognizes their contribution to go above and beyond."

Watch James' film.

Winner (cultural institutions)

Andrew Vaughan and Sally Thelwell, The Whitworth


The Whitworth Young Contemporaries (WYC) aims to make a difference to some of the hardest to reach and socially isolated young people on our doorstep. CIRCUIT is the flagship engagement programme that encourages these young people to engage with the Whitworth on their own terms. The group worked closely with two artists to mastermind an ambitious festival both inside the gallery and outside in the park. The WARP Festival attracted 10,000 visitors over the weekend.

Highly Commended (cultural institutions)

Professor Teresa Anderson & Professor Tim O’Brien, Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre

Bluedot Festival

Jodrell Bank’s inaugural Bluedot Festival, an immersive weekender that seamlessly merged cutting edge science with music, film, and art, attracted nearly 15,000 visitors and received wide acclaim. The Festival successfully increased and broadened Jodrell Bank’s public engagement activity, attracted a host of new and diverse audiences, and celebrated science as an integral part of culture.

Highly Commended (cultural institutions)

Amy Jones and Helen Allwood, The Whitworth and LuCiD (ESRC International Centre for Language and Communicative Development)

Language Baby

Language Baby is a collaborative project which aims to connect local families with young children with research relating to language development in under 5s. The work has extended the Whitworth’s well-established Art Baby-Music baby multi-sensory workshops.

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