Skip to main content

17 November 2020

King's Civic Challenge teams up students, staff and local communities for positive change

Bringing together the King’s community and local charities to co-create solutions to the challenges our neighbouring boroughs face.

Illustration of people building a tower of coloured bricks, with text saying BE A LOCAL CHANGEMAKER

Applications are now open for King’s Civic Challenge 2020/21, a unique opportunity for King’s students and staff to team up with local charities to help drive positive change.

As London recovers from the immediate impacts of COVID-19, King’s Civic Challenge aims to promote innovative responses to the challenges faced by communities in our home boroughs of Lambeth, Southwark and Westminster, embodying our commitment to serve, support and sustain the city where we make our home.

Now in its second year, the Challenge’s collaborative approach delivers fresh perspectives on issues affecting London and Londoners. From peer-support workshops to reduce loneliness among Lambeth’s informal carers, to enabling young people at risk of homelessness to find support, projects developed through King’s Civic Challenge have potential to make a lasting difference in our local communities.

This year’s Challenge will see local charities join students and staff at an online matchmaking event where they will connect with potential partners before forming project teams.

These teams will then work together to generate and refine their ideas, supported by a programme of training and workshops, before shortlisted teams pitch to win funding and make their ideas a reality.

At King’s, we know that London’s challenges are our challenges, and that our success as a university is dependent on the health, success and wellbeing of the city around us. At this time of crisis, coming together with our local communities to share insights, develop innovative ideas and address issues at a grassroots level matters more than ever, and it will deliver unique learning opportunities for our students. I look forward to seeing the ideas of this year’s teams develop into initiatives with lasting social impact.

Baroness Deborah Bull, Vice President & Vice Principal (London)

In 2019/20, teams in the first ever King’s Civic Challenge explored issues including social isolation among people with learning disabilities and empowering young women through sport. Six winning teams each received £5000 for their charity to get their projects off the ground.

One of the winning projects was pitched by the Southwark Pensioners’ Centre team, which received funding for a community cookbook designed to address ‘barriers to belonging’ among Black, Asian and minority ethnic pensioners in Southwark. The project promises to bring together people young and old from the borough’s diverse communities to create healthy food while sharing stories of heritage, art and culture across the generations.

The project is currently being replanned for delivery in the context of COVID-19.

The Southwark Pensioners' Centre team pitching at the King's Civic Challenge Grand Final, 13 March 2020.
The Southwark Pensioners' Centre team pitching at the King's Civic Challenge Grand Final, 13 March 2020.

The knowledge, power and expertise within King’s, combined with our understanding of local communities and the issues that they face means that together we can come up with long-term, lasting solutions that truly make a difference.

Cathy Deplessis, Director, Southwark Pensioners’ Centre, charity partner, King’s Civic Challenge 2019/20

Staff and students are invited to discover more at events during November, then submit a short application by 10am on Monday 30 November 2020.

If you are a local charity or organisation interested joining King’s Civic Challenge, we would be delighted to hear from you. Please visit or email