Making a Difference awards.

Winners and highly commended 2022

Outstanding benefit to society through research


Staff Winner

Facilitating the net zero transition in the power industry
Tony Lujia Chen – Faculty of Science and Engineering

SF6 is a potent greenhouse gas widely used in the energy sector. This project demonstrated that retro-fill of SF6 assets is technically viable. This research has given National Grid the confidence to accelerate retro-fill projects on the network. One such project is at Richborough substation where, working in partnership with Hitachi Energy, National Grid have replaced 755kg of SF6 from existing assets with an alternative gas which has substantially lower environmental impact.

SDGs: 11, 13

It is an honour to receive both the Making a Difference Award and the Better World Showcase for the category of outstanding benefit to society through research. Our research team will continue tackling the various challenges of SF6 replacement in the power industry, catalysing the development of real-world solutions that can deliver environmental and economical saving to society.” 

Student Winner

Developing an Urban Heat Resilience Plan for Bristol
Charlotte Brown – Faculty of Science and Engineering

This project improved methodology to robustly map the areas of a city and its most vulnerable populations to extreme heatwaves caused by climate change. The methodology has been implemented as part of the UK Climate Resilience Programme and has been adopted by Bristol City Council to inform the cities heatwave resilience framework.

SDGs: 7, 9, 13

Emerging Impact Winner

COVID-19, inequality and older people
Dr Tine Buffel, Christopher Phillipson and MUARG colleagues – Faculty of Humanities

This project highlights the impact of COVID-19 on older people across the region, especially in relation to declining social contact and feelings of mental and physical deterioration. The research identified gaps in service provision for older people arising from the pandemic, in particular groups from minority ethnic communities, people self-identifying as LGTBQ+ , and those at risk of social isolation from low incomes or poor health.

SDGs: 3, 10, 11

“Our Making a Difference Award 2022 for our work research on the impact of COVID-19 was hugely beneficial in strengthening our engagement with community partners across Greater Manchester. The Manchester Urban Ageing Research group also benefited from new research collaborations, across the region and nationally, arising from the recognition and prestige provided by the award.”

Highly Commended


I am Tibetan, this is my story
Emma Martin – Faculty of Humanities

This project was developed with and for the Tibetan government-in-exile. It challenges established racial stereotyping and ‘self-othering’ museum tropes, instead representing a contemporary and politically active Tibet through engaging Tibetans in the research process and supporting the refugee community in producing its own public histories.

SDGs: 10


Rapid diagnostic pathways reduce unnecessary hospital admissions for suspected acute myocardial infarction

Professor Richard Body – Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health

This project developed new clinical pathways to rapidly rule out acute myocardial infarction (AMI), reducing unnecessary hospital admissions/healthcare costs and providing early reassurance for patients. It also determined that another test could accurately ‘rule in’ AMI, which has been implemented across Greater Manchester.

SDGs: 3


Outstanding teaching innovation in social responsibility


Developing a model for teaching LGBT+ History to secondary school students

Thomas Donnai – Faculty of Humanities

This project addressed a political narrowing of the History curriculum and a lack of training for new teachers on how to make marginalised groups visible in the History curriculum. It developed a unit covering LGBT+ History, seeking to ‘skill trainees up’ and helping them disseminate good practice once in post as teachers.

SDGs: 4, 10

Winning a Making a Difference Award in 2022 was a real high point for me; getting recognition for my three- year project and its impact was great and I was so pleased to share the good news with partners and beneficiaries. Celebrating success is important!”

Highly Commended

Klezmer Ensemble Performance
Richard Fay – Faculty of Humanities

This project established a Manchester node in the revitalisation of Klezmer – music used for Jewish weddings which was decimated during the holocaust. It founded a klezmer ensemble and linked module in the University’s music department; facilitating students’ developing intercultural awareness, and combatting anti-Semitism.

SDGs: 4, 16


Reache Education Programme

Aisha Awan and team – Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health & Northern Care Alliance

This project works with Refugees and Asylum Seekers arriving in the UK, providing an education programme for English and medical PLAB examinations, helping healthcare professionals undertake conversion courses. The service has had huge success for English pass rates as well as placing clinicians within Clinical Practice placements throughout the local NHS Trusts.

SDGs: 1, 3, 4

Outstanding contribution to social innovation and environmental impact


Promoting Educational Equality for Girls by addressing Period Poverty in Liberia

Chantal Victoria Bright – Faculty of Humanities

This project worked with a local seamstress in Liberia to develop a convenient alternative to impractical disposable pads; simultaneously creating employment and addressing challenges around period poverty and its impact on education and ensuing life outcomes.

SDGs: 3, 4, 5

Highly commended


MyMaternity Care App

Jenny Myers and colleagues- Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health

This project brought together women, industry partners and healthcare professionals to develop an app specifically designed to support self-monitoring of blood pressure and blood glucose. The app has been used by more than 450 pregnant women, reducing the need for hospital visits and enabling better remote support during pregnancy.

SDGs: 3, 9, 12

Drones Optimized Therapy System (DrOTS): Use of Drones for Tuberculosis Diagnosis in Nepal

Uttam Pudasaini, Biplav Pageni and Sushant Yadav – Faculty of Humanities

This project is designed for the rapid diagnosis of new Tuberculosis cases through the utilization of drones and smart pillboxes, called MERMS (Medication Event Reminder-Monitors), to overcome the access barrier in remote, geographically isolated areas and improve treatment patient compliance. The project plans to assist Nepal’s Ministry of Health and Population by generating the data necessary to assess the suitability of drone-based services for nationwide expansion.

SDGs: 3, 9, 17


Outstanding public engagement initiative: Outstanding contribution by our cultural institutions


Still Parents Exhibition

Lucy Turner and team- The Whitworth Art Gallery

This project comprises a partnership between The Whitworth Art Gallery and Sands (Stillbirth and Neo Natal Death Charity). The award-winning programme supports parents who have experienced the loss of a baby in pregnancy or just after birth.

SDGs: 3, 10, 17

Highly commended

Our Shared Cultural Heritage

Sadia Habib – Manchester Museum

This project aims to make museums and heritage organisations better places for young people to tackle cultural inequalities and showcase cultural heritage from diaspora perspectives. The pandemic shifted Our Shared Cultural Heritage online, creating a safe, positive and supportive digital space for more young people.

SDGs: 8, 10, 16



Outstanding public engagement initiative: Outstanding local/civic engagement


Ageing Well in Place at Hopton Court

Hopton Hopefuls tenants group (Hulme), Whitney Banyai-Becker, Sophie King and Diana Mitlin – Faculty of Humanities

This project is a tenant-led initiative which seeks to ensure that older tower-block tenants can age well and die with dignity in the place they call home. The project has carried out a tenant-led survey of older people’s needs, and advocates for better care for older people in their community.

SDGs: 3, 10, 17


#BeeWell: Making Young People’s Wellbeing Everybody’s Business

Neil Humphrey – Faculty of Humanities

This project is a new programme led by the University of Manchester, the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families, and the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA). It combines academic expertise with youth-led change to make the wellbeing of young people everybody’s business.

SDGs: 3, 10, 17

“Receiving a Making A Difference award has been fantastic for our team – it recognises the importance of the University’s social responsibility agenda and the work that goes into ensuring that projects like #BeeWell have an impact on society.”

Highly Commended

Reading Mentors

Kyna Ho and Reihaneh Farzinnia – Faculty of Humanities

This project is a student-led mentoring scheme that supports primary school pupils to become confident and able readers. Difficulty reading is a key barrier to engaging with education provision across all subjects for children, reducing comprehension and diminishing their confidence in education settings.

SDGs: 4, 10

Greater Manchester Engineering Challenge (GMEC)

Dr Lynne Bianchi and team – Faculty of Science and Engineering

This project saw hundreds of 7-14-year-olds taking part in a blended-learning style 2021 Greater Manchester Engineering Challenge. Pupils, teachers, families, industry and academic engineers came together at the height of school closures to engage pupils in practical learning related to Sustainability and Well Being.

SDGs: 11



Daniele Atkinson, Lindsey Gage and Francesca Guratsky – Faculty of Science and Engineering

This project inspired a new generation of scientists from the city’s hard-to-reach groups. Held at Manchester Central Library, alongside a complementing digital platform, ScienceX engaged more than 7000 people, creating a community of STEM enthusiasts by revealing our scientists’ impact in addressing the climate crisis.

SDGs: 4, 13



Outstanding public engagement initiative: Outstanding Public contribution



Trafford 500 Words

Wendi Swan, Jonny Huck and Rebecca Grant – Wellfield Junior School and Faculty of Humanities

This project entailed a creative writing competition, working with over 600 children (aged 7-11) through partnership with over 50 Primary Schools across Trafford. It aimed to ensure fundamental skills such as reading and writing were developed, despite the disruption to education from the pandemic.

SDGs: 3, 4, 17

Highly Commended

Dab Hands: That’ll Need Stitching
Lucy Burscough – Public contributor (artist)

This project used artwork to boost wellbeing and community spirit during the pandemic. Embroidery kits were posted out, resulting in contributions from nearly 300 medical students, healthcare workers, students out of mainstream education and older residents across the region. The embroideries will become the ‘skin’ of a large sculpture of a sewing hand, to be exhibited at Manchester Museum in autumn.

SDGs: 3, 11, 17


Outstanding public engagement initiative: Outstanding national/international engagement



Cucusonic: translating biodiversity into new music in Colombia

Rupert Cox and Alejandro Valencia-Tobon – Faculty of Humanities, UoM Alumni

This project raised public awareness of the biodiversity of Colombia and its importance globally by translating natural soundscape recordings and bioacoustic data into a new music album. The international music and bio-science collaboration set up a remotely organised network with diverse local communities to collect and record sounds and stories from the Colombian Neotropical forests, inviting high profile musicians to create tracks from the field recordings.

SDGs: 13

The award enhanced the profile of my work and methods to international research collaborators, leading to a new interdisciplinary, public engagement project with Aix Marseilles University in France.”

Highly Commended


Empowering a rural community to protect themselves from COVID-19 in Sri Lanka
Dr Raj Ariyaratnam and Kunasingam Satgunarasah – Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health

The project involved engaging communities through their mother tongue as means to prevent language being a barrier to healthcare equality. It aimed to improve attitudes towards mask wearing and vaccinations among global rural and poor communities by addressing the knowledge vacuum created by authentic health information were being published mainly in English on mainstream and social media platforms.

SDGs: 3, 10



Outstanding contribution to equality, diversity and inclusion


The Black Excellence Network

George Obolo – Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health

This project has been set up to challenge the racial disparities seen between black students and other ethnicities within UK higher education and competitive courses.

SDGs: 4, 10

Highly Commended

OneEd Community

Yin Hei Lee – Faculty of Humanities

This project provides mathematics E-learning resources to students from low-income families for free and forever. By providing free access to quality educational resources created by experts, the project aims to narrow the gap between underprivileged and privileged students, allowing them to climb up the social ladder more effectively.

SDGs: 4, 10

Reducing inequalities in cancer tumour genetic screening

Professor David Wedge – Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health

This project collected and analysed cancer tumours from Nigerian, Kenyan and South African populations, revealing substantial differences in genetics between different ethnic groups that were previously unknown. This work has the potential to spur personalised medicine tailored to people with different ethnicities, thus improving their health outcomes following a cancer diagnosis.

SDGs: 3, 9, 10


The Manchester Muslim Medical Student Guide (First Edition)

Mohammed Ullah and team- Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health, Student Support

This project created a manual for Muslim students which can help them navigate their time at Medical school. It provides an inclusive learning environment and covers many key topics which are not addressed by other means. The outcomes are higher retentions, less issues related to faith and support and guidance for students to help them with any issues regarding faith and studying.

SDGs: 4, 10



Outstanding professional services for social responsibility


Irene Manton Lecture

Samantha Franklin – Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health

This project, set up by our Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health, in collaboration with the Linnean Society of London, provides free annual lectures to commemorate and celebrate the role that women have played in contributing to the development of natural sciences and aims to increase diversity in science. So far, over 540 people have attended the lectures with a varied audience.

SDGs: 3, 4, 5

Highly Commended


International Women’s Day 2021 #ChooseToChallenge campaign

Enna Bartlett and colleagues – Faculty of Science and Engineering, Professional Services

This project entailed an online, magazine-style campaign that focused on telling staff and students’ personal stories of gender inequality for 2021 International Women’s Day. With support from colleagues across the University, 18 stories were published across University websites, conveying the campaign’s important message through its novel and honest content.

SDGs: 5




Outstanding contribution to environmental sustainability

Student Winner

Enactus Manchester – Rekindle

Mahima Jethani – Faculty of Humanities

This project focuses on ensuring sustainable communities in Manchester by seeking out clothes and refurbishing them. Rekindle is trying to combat the issue of fast consumerism through building a sustainable student community.

SDGs: 11, 12

Staff Winner


Concretene: a low-carbon, graphene-enhanced concrete

Alan Beck and colleagues – Faculty of Science and Engineering

This project aims to mitigate the environmental impact of the construction industry, by producing Concretene: a lower-emitting version of concrete. Large-scale site trials demonstrated up to 30% less concrete was required for the same structural performance as standard RC30 concrete in floor-slab applications, helping reduce 25-30% of CO2 emissions.

SDGs: 9, 11, 12

Highly Commended

Furniture 4 Reuse

Simon Atkinson, Alan Wright and Peter Liddell – Professional Services

This project prevents unnecessary University furniture waste, and promotes reuse and recycling. All unwanted University furniture can be returned to the furniture store and items suitable for re-use are available for staff free of charge. Items that are assessed at the furniture store as not being suitable for re-use will be disposed of to a local furniture re-use company rather than sent for disposal.

SDGs: 9, 11, 12


A Greener Centre for Postgraduate Education and Training (CPPE)

Nuala Hampson and GCPE Greener Team – Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health

This project aims to reduce the impact of the Centre for Postgraduate Education and Training (CPPE) on the environment, from small steps such as reducing the amount of paper used, to linking in with green initiatives at the head office. A session run at CPPE’s national meeting on the environmental crisis resulted in organisational and individual engagement across England.

SDGs: 3, 12, 13


Biko Bikes

Charlie Major and Phoebe Parry – Student Action

This project is trying to reduce climate change in Manchester by maintaining and renting out bikes to students for £1 a week, thereby encouraging students to cycle. It works as an alternative to public transport, which is often inaccessible. All money from the project is reinvested into itself to ensure full sustainability.

SDGs: 3, 11, 13


Musical Agriculture (IWA-ANEM): A Song for Climate Change

Rita Robert Otu and colleagues – Faculty of Humanities

This project seeks to address challenges such as deforestation, climate change and environmental injustices, by using music and food to initiate a variety of educational programs for key groups such as women, and children.

SDGs: 1, 2, 13

Incredible Edible

Akhila Ficel and Alice Wheatley – Student Action

This project is a student-led initiative that seeks to raise awareness about environmental issues, food justice, and sustainability by cultivating organic vegetables and herbs around the University for the local community to use and access free of charge. Student volunteers gain new skills and learn more about how to grow food sustainably on small plots.

SDGs: 2, 3, 11



Outstanding contribution to widening participation

Student Winner

Manchester Outreach Medics (MOMs)

Manchester Outreach Medics team – Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health

This project runs events for young people from lower socioeconomic backgrounds who want to become doctors. These events aim to improve understanding of the medicine application process, and improve the students’ self-confidence.

SDGs: 4, 10

Staff Winner

Psychology Education and Wellbeing in Schools (PEWS)

Dr Debbie Smith and Dr Elizabeth McManus – Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health

This projects works at a school in a deprived area, which is associated with generally poorer health outcomes and lower attendance at university. Its primary aim is to promote and teach simple health behaviour skills and techniques that can become positive habits that last into adult life. It also celebrates diversity and encourages university education as an option for anyone.

SDGs: 3, 4, 10

Highly Commended

Reading Mentors

Kyna Ho and Reihaneh Farzinnia – Faculty of Humanities

This project is a student-led mentoring scheme that supports primary school pupils to become confident and able readers. Difficulty reading is a key barrier to engaging with education provision across all subjects for children, reducing comprehension and diminishing their confidence in education settings.

SDGs: 4, 10


Commuter Student Peer Mentoring

Nick Weise and student peer mentoring team – University-wide

This project addresses the lack of opportunities commuter students have to build social / cultural capital and access to members of the university community who understand their situation. Through the peer mentoring scheme, commuter students transitioning into the University now see learners who are like them before they start and can form supportive peer networks.

SDGs: 4