Supporting those from socioeconomic disadvantaged and/or disengaged areas into higher education

In May 2018 The University Centre at Leeds City College launched their community outreach programme that continues to grow. They offer a number of fun activities in community hubs across the city, working with young people, parents/carers, influencers, organisation leaders, and mature learners.

The purpose of the activities is to provide a ‘have-a-go’ opportunity to try new things and introduce practical elements of higher education. It provides an informal opportunity to discuss careers in a range of industries, as well as education options and higher education provision across the city. It has also proven a good opportunity to engage with parents/carers who are considering returning to study whilst their child takes part in the activity.

Locals in Armley, Beeston, Middleton, Chapeltown and Harehills have benefitted from a range of free pursuits for young people including slime making, humanoid robots, media makeup, screen printing, virtual reality experience, film and screen media, storytelling, science activities, photography and much more.

The activities rotate once a month at Armley One Stop Centre, Dewsbury Road Community Hub, St George’s Centre, the Compton Centre and the Reginald Centre. Jo Tyssen, HE Business Development Manager at the University Centre at Leeds City College, said: “The purpose of these activities is to raise aspirations, offer educational advice and guidance, and myth bust.

“It breaks down barriers. Through fun workshops in science and robotics for example, we can open up conversations about education and the opportunities available to both young people and parents who may not have considered higher education before.”

The activities are facilitated by staff and student ambassadors from the university centres’s creative arts, computing, care, fashion theatrical media hair and makeup, and science departments and will continue to run for the rest of the year.

Jo added: “By August, there will have been over 70 activities facilitated. I would like to say a big thank you to everyone who has been involved in putting on these events, particularly the Creative Arts team, who have been integral to the initiative.

A good proportion of participants have reported a positive shift in attitude towards higher education. There have been a number of participants that have gone on to apply for both further education and higher education courses, and parents/carers have said they valued being able to gather information about the options available to their children”.

The University Centre at Leeds City College also offer this suite of activities to schools, sixth forms, and colleges across the region and would love to speak to any organisation interested in taking up this offer.

The Creative Arts Team at the University Centre at Leeds City College are also interested in opening up dialogue with community organisations and leads to kick off the process of development for a new ambitious creative project for summer 2020. They are interested in hearing from organisations that would like to be part of this project, or if you have any ideas of ways they could collaborate in the future, no matter how big or small.

The direction of the project will be shaped by who wants to be involved and by the initial conversations made with organisations. They will then be working closely with artists and the Creative Arts department to formulate and develop the project, which will aim to unite community partners, students and University Centre at Leeds City College.

If you would like to know more please contact Jo Tyssen, Leeds City College.