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King's community teams up with local partners to tackle social challenges in London

Students, staff, alumni and community partners are teaming up to find solutions to issues in King’s local boroughs

Group of people around a table, writing ideas onto coloured sticky notes
King's Civic Challenge 2019/20

21 teams of King’s students, staff, alumni and community partners came together at a launch event today to begin co-creating imaginative solutions to the challenges our neighbouring communities face.

As part of King’s Civic Challenge 2020/21, over 100 students and staff have teamed up with 21 charities, community groups and Community Interest Companies (CICs) from across King’s home boroughs of Lambeth, Southwark and Westminster. Community partners include The Jo Cox Foundation, Age UK Westminster, Cape Verdean Association UK and St. Faith’s Centre.

Tackling issues such as social isolation, the digital divide, poor mental health and food insecurity, the teams will pool their ideas and experiences to come up with lasting solutions to local challenges.

Participants include students and staff from every faculty and level of study.

As a civic university at the heart of London, we know that the city’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 continuing 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)

Teams will develop and refine their ideas by taking part in training and workshops over the coming months. Each of the 21 teams will also work with a coach from King’s alumni community who will share their professional experience and expertise.

Shortlisted teams will pitch their ideas to a panel of judges at the Grand Final in April, with the chance to win funding and support to put their ideas into practice.

This year, King’s will award nine Civic Challenge awards of £5,000 each, plus additional coaching and evaluation support.

Four core Civic Challenge awards align with the mutual priorities King’s identified with our local boroughs: health and wellbeing, education and attainment, business and enterprise and community resilience. As part of King’s aim to nurture and enhance its cultural community, at least one of these will be awarded to a cultural organisation or project. A further award will be given to an innovative project connecting art, science and health to benefit local communities.

For 2020/21, four new awards are made possible through an innovative procurement process led by King’s Procurement Team. Social value objectives were included when evaluating bids for King’s furniture contract and supplier SouthernsBroadstock scored highest and was awarded it. A percentage of King’s annual expenditure with the company goes towards a community fund to benefit local causes that reflect the UN Sustainable Development Goals, to which both King’s and SouthernsBroadstock have signed up. This means that every time King’s purchases a piece of furniture or refits a building, there will be direct benefit to society. This year this fund will be distributed through King’s Civic Challenge to four projects aligned to the Sustainable Development Goals.

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
I gained so much from participating. I learned about charity work, and it also gave me a bit of confidence in my own abilities…King's Civic Challenge was the highlight of my time here at King's.– Mouki Ayyagari, MSc Mental Health Studies, Civic Challenge participant 2019/20
Discussion between 5 people part of King's Civic Challenge in front of yellow wall
A team working together during King's Civic Challenge, 2019/20

King’s Civic Challenge is one of the ways King’s aims to help support positive change in our local communities, as part of our ambition to be a civic university at the heart of London. As well as providing an incubator for local ideas with social impact, it enables our local community partners to draw on the diverse perspectives of the King’s community, develop the skills of their staff and volunteers, and network with other charities and local community organisations.

The community partners taking part in King’s Civic Challenge 2020/21 are:

  • 575 Wandsworth Road, National Trust
  • Age UK Westminster
  • ARCS
  • Borough Food Cooperative
  • Cape Verdean Association UK
  • Caxton Youth Organisation
  • ClearCommunityWeb
  • The Dot Collective
  • Girls United FA
  • In-Deep
  • The Jo Cox Foundation
  • Neurodiversity Learning Centre CIC
  • The Passage
  • Policy Centre for African Peoples (PCAP)
  • Power2
  • The Remakery
  • Restorative Justice for All
  • The Soul Shack London CIC
  • Southside
  • St. Faith’s Centre
  • Urban Growth Learning Gardens CIC