Our monthly round-up

Wed, 24 Jun 2020 18:21:00 BST

We hope this finds you well. In this month’s newsletter we’re sharing news about a wide range of inspirational achievements, projects and events connected to our social responsibility priorities of social inclusion, better health, environmental sustainability and cultural engagement.

Each June, we open our doors to our local neighbourhoods for the Community Festival, where visitors can find out about our work at the University and get hands-on with a variety of exciting family-friendly activities. Obviously this year it isn’t possible to have such an event, so instead we’ve teamed up our University’s Manchester Museum to host an online Community Festival on Saturday 27 June from 11am. You can watch the sessions on Periscope, directly through Manchester Museum’s Twitter feed or via this link.

Many of our University community feel deeply troubled by George Floyd’s death and the different events in the US, UK and beyond. In response, Professor Nalin Thakkar, our Vice-President for Social Responsibility, has highlighted the steps that the University is taking and where we are committed to doing more for equality, diversity and inclusion.

Our students are continuing to engage with their communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Law students have been providing written and video advice to people affected by the pandemic and PhD students in the Department of Materials are printing personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline NHS workers. We’ve also been pleased to learn that a record-breaking 8,000 students from across the University completed the Ethical Grand Challenges programme and over 50,000 hours have been logged by student volunteers this academic year.

On social inclusion, our Emergency Hardship Fund has raised £1 million from donors in over 80 countries for students who have experienced hardship during the pandemic. Our IntoUniversity centre in North Manchester is still supporting schoolchildren through lockdown and two individuals from our University community have been nominated for their prestigious IntoUniversity Partnership Awards. Our Manchester Access Programme has continued to be delivered online. And our ageing institute, MICRA, held an online showcase of their postgraduate and early career researchers and have put together their latest research on inequality, older people and COVID-19.

On better health, we’ve shared the story of two of our clinical academics who were released from their usual journeys to join the frontline in the battle against COVID-19 at the Manchester Royal Infirmary. We’ve highlighted the research of Making a Difference Award winner Professor Vaskar Saha. And we hear about how one of our graduates, Thomas Henley, has made the most of lockdown by releasing a documentary about the impact that his Asperger’s Syndrome has had on his mental health.

On environmental sustainability, our 10,000 Actions programme has been updated with home-based content for those working at home, the annual Athletic Union Awards commended several sustainability initiatives, and we interviewed two of our Making a Difference Award winners Holly Smith and Angela Mae Minas about their amazing projects. And Dr Patsy Perry has published in Nature magazine’s Nature Reviews, Earth and Environment on the environmental price of fast fashion and possible solutions.

On cultural engagement, our Race Relations Resource Centre has launched Covid-19 Collecting to document and raise visibility of stories about the impact of pandemic on BAME communities. Our Whitworth Art Gallery is continuing to deliver its Still Parents workshops online for those who have experienced the loss of a baby during pregnancy or after birth and have been engaging Manchester’s young people in a pioneering trans-atlantic The Oakland Projects. Our Manchester Museum continues to engage audiences with its pioneering work online. And our Confucius Institute has released QiGong yoga tutorials on its Youtube channel.

In other news, why not get involved in our first online Purple Wave run,which takes place on Sunday 6 September, with participants running, walking or jogging wherever they are, to collectively complete a virtual lap around the world!

As always, you can visit our dedicated pages to keep up to date with the latest ways we’re working to combat coronavirus and its effects on our communities.

Dr Julian Skyrme, Director of Social Responsibility