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Local community projects win King's Civic Challenge funding

Six local projects co-created by teams of students, staff and charities from Lambeth, Southwark and Westminster have received funding to make their ideas a reality at the final of King’s first ever Civic Challenge.

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King's Civic Challenge finalists at London's City Hall

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 (London)

Four of the prizes awarded at the Civic Challenge final align to these mutual priorities: health and wellbeing, business and enterprise, education and attainment and community resilience. A fifth, supported by the Mayor of London, was for student community action. Winning teams receive up to £5,000 of project funding for the charity and ongoing support and coaching to make their idea a reality.

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.

Health & wellbeing

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.

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.

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Winners of the health and wellbeing award with Councillor Mark Shearer, Deputy Cabinet Member for Community Services & Digital, Westminster City Council

Business & enterprise

The award for business and enterprise went to the Southwark Pensioners’ Centre team for their unique response to the challenge of isolation among elderly people in the borough. Their award 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.’

Education & attainment

The team from Mousetrap Theatre received the award for education and attainment. They will now work together to plan and launch an afterschool drama club at Gateway Academy in Westminster to improve children’s confidence and communication skills through ‘active play’. King’s Civic Challenge judge, Alison Duthie, Director of Programming (Culture & Strand Aldwych) at King’s said, ‘This idea has creativity at its core and will genuinely benefit young children while also supporting their parents and families.’

Community resilience

The team behind Rathbone Community Outreach received the award for community resilience.  Recognising that loneliness can impact people with disabilities disproportionally, 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.

Councillor Jack Hopkins, Leader of Lambeth Council, who presented the team with their award, said: “I want to congratulate the Rathbone Community Outreach team on winning this award and commend them for their commitment to the important task of tackle social isolation among adults with learning disabilities.

“This project will help build resilience in our communities and tackle health inequalities, both of which are a key priorities for Lambeth Council.”  

Student community action

A final award, supported by the Mayor of London, focused on student community action. Presenting the award to the Girls United team, Truly Johnston, Senior Manager, Team London (Volunteering), Greater London Authority, explained that the team’s pitch showed a strong vision and a clear plan for a practical idea that addressed a real need.

Seeing the presentations this afternoon really shows the power of bringing people together and sharing ideas for initiatives that can support and enhance communities.– Truly Johnston, Senior Manager, Team London (Volunteering), Greater London Authority

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.

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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