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20 March 2020

Life Sciences & Medicine students and staff win King's Civic Challenge funding

Local projects co-created by students and staff from the Faculty of Life Sciences & Medicine have received funding to make their ideas a reality at the final of King’s first ever Civic Challenge.

Mayor's award winners

The event, which took place in the Chamber of City Hall, was officially supported by the Mayor of London and his volunteering programme, Team London.

Welcoming guests, Baroness Deborah Bull, Vice President & Vice Principal (London), emphasised the university’s commitment to working in partnership with London and our home boroughs.

We’ve worked with our boroughs to identify where local needs could best be supported by King’s strengths and expertise. King’s Civic Challenge exemplifies all of this. It recognises that by working together we can do even more to address local challenges and opportunities.

Baroness Deborah Bull, Vice President & Vice Principal

At the event, finalists presented ideas developed in response to challenges identified by each team’s local charity to a panel that included representatives from Team London, Lambeth Council, Southwark Council and Westminster City Council.

Five of the six winning teams included students and staff from the Faculty of Life & Sciences and were awarded prizes for their civic contributions. They receive up to £5,000 of project funding for the charity and ongoing support and coaching to make their idea a reality.

Cardinal Hume Centre & Carers’ Hub Lambeth

The prize for health and wellbeing was awarded to two teams: Carers’ Hub Lambeth and the Cardinal Hume Centre in Westminster.

The Carers’ Hub Lambeth team will now develop ‘Caring Stories’, workshops that aim to reduce loneliness among informal carers to help improve their mental and physical health through peer support.

James Holdcroft and Ellen Reeves from Carers’ Hub Lambeth with Alia Yusuf (BSc Political Economy), Faculty of Social Science & Public Policy; Dania Quadri (Medicine MBBS), Faculty of Life Sciences & Medicine; Alysha Ratnam (Law LLB), The Dickson Poon School of Law; Fatma Ali (Lead Analyst), Ali Hepple (Sustainability Officer (Engagement)), Professional Services.

The group working with Cardinal Hume Centre explained in their pitch that young people don’t queue up at for housing advice but look to their phones and social media instead. They will produce a short film to educate young people at risk of homelessness about their local housing options.

Councillor Mark Shearer, Deputy Cabinet Member for Community Services & Digital at Westminster City Council, presented the health and wellbeing award. He explained that the judges recognised that the hidden homelessness challenge addressed by the Cardinal Hume Centre project is one that needs to be highlighted and tackled. The Carers’ Hub Lambeth team, he added, had identified a clear problem with strong community need and reason for action.

Girls United

The Girls United team won the student Community Action award, supported by Mayor of London, for #Findyourgame. The group offers girls and young women who play football with Girls United the opportunity to improve their confidence, communication, leadership and determination through sport.

Their project, #Findyourgame, responds to the low number of girls aged 13-16 who meet recommended activity levels daily. The Girls United group will now launch local workshops to empower young women to feel more confident and develop leadership skills, while realising the benefits of sport to their personal journeys.

TEAM: Abigail Ingram and Camilla Johnsen from Girls United with Alex Hickman and Laura Walmsley (MA Arts & Cultural Management), Faculty of Arts & Humanities and Halh Al-Serori (Research Associate).


The team behind Rathbone Community Outreach received the award for community resilience.  Recognising that loneliness can impact people with disabilities dis-proportionally, the team will set up tailored volunteering opportunities with local charities in Lambeth to tackle social isolation among adults with learning disabilities. In doing so they aim to reduce loneliness, improve mental health and establish stronger community ties among participants.

Presenting the team with their award, Councillor Jack Hopkins, Leader of Lambeth Council, said: ‘We know that a healthy society and a resilient community is one that supports itself. This idea brought together different parts of the community and that is what community resilience is all about.’

TEAM: Georgia Harvey and Charline King from Rathbone with Elena Jalba (Public Health MPH), Faculty of Life Sciences & Medicine; Mouktika Ayyagari (MSC Mental Health Studies), Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience and Melissa Fitzpatrick (BA History), Faculty of Arts & Humanities.

Southwark Pensioners’ Centre

The Southwark Pensioners’ Centre team won the business and enterprise award for their unique response to the challenge of isolation among elderly people in the borough. It will support them to create a cookbook to reduce ‘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 BAME community to create tasty, healthy, cultural food while researching heritage, art and culture and sharing stories across the generations. The team hope to eventually sell the cookbook in local and, potentially, national retailers.

Councillor Johnson Situ, Cabinet Member for Growth, Development & Planning at Southwark Council, presented the award. ‘The panel were really impressed by this unique idea which brought together different parts of our community,’ he said. ‘This is one that champions diversity and can also be scaled as well.’

TEAM: Lydia Ango and Cathy Deplessis, Southwark Pensioners’ Centre with Melissa Co (PhD in Health Services & Population Research), Elyse Couch (PhD in Health Services Research) and Harriet Yayra (MSc Global Mental Health), Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience; Ahlam Abdullah (MSc Clinical Dermatology), Faculty of Life Sciences & Medicine

The Civic Challenge was designed in collaboration with King’s staff, partners across our home boroughs and Team London.

The ten finalist teams were supported by King’s alumni mentors and co-developed their ideas with charities across Lambeth, Southwark and Westminster: Cardinal Hume Centre, Carers’ Hub Lambeth, Friends of Windmill Gardens, Girls United, GlobalGirl Media UK, London Youth, Mousetrap Theatre Projects, Rathbone Society, Southwark Pensioners’ Centre and Theatre Peckham.

Every team will now be supported by King’s to find their next step, through connections with relevant expertise or signposting to alternative funding.

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