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Civic Engagement Fund 2016

The Civic Engagement Fund supports hands-on projects that have a real impact on our communities. Much of the work is local, but the opportunities are wide-ranging.


Eastlife: An anthology of life writing 

Eastlife has emerged from work carried out by students on the creative writing programmes at UEL. It is a book of autobiographical and biographical pieces that articulate people’s experiences of east London. Working with elders in the east London community, UEL students have given creative expression to those life experiences.

Impact of head lice infestations in London 

Discussions about the increase burden of head lice infestations have taken place with parents, teachers, healthcare professionals, policy makers and specialist organisations. UEL students with an interest in health promotion have helped raise awareness of this problem across the local community.

Developing sustainable living in Beckton 

This project continues work on a communal garden constructed in a Beckton park close to the UEL Docklands Campus by ensuring there is a sustainable water supply. It also enables researchers to build on previous findings about residents’ knowledge of sustainable living and work with partner agencies to reduce household expenditure. The aim is to raise awareness of environmentally friendly actions and the use of water-saving devices.

Critical pedagogies and student transformations at UEL

This project involves several research-focused activities which explore the social and cultural transformation of students at the Cass School of Education and Communities. These include a focus on students’ identities as learners, their aspirations and ways of empowering them.

Health and Wellbeing applied research group 

This collaborative research project is focused on two areas. The first is the relationship between anxiety and learning, with an emphasis on the pupil voice. The second is the development of fine motor skills in young children, with a view to preventing anxiety in later life associated with poorly developed fine motor skills. 

University for all: teaching life stories in the Jungle

The 'Jungle' camp in Calais is currently home to around 5,000 refugees, many with good English skills and a strong commitment to higher education. This project extends access to university education to camp residents, delivering an accredited course on 'Life Stories' that involves critical reading, writing, and oral presentations. The project is also the basis of a forthcoming book co-authored by the residents, Welcome to the 'Jungle'

Mental health and refugees online portal 

This project involves the creation of an online portal providing access to information, tools, resources and articles for mental health practitioners, community organisations, statutory, international and national third-sector organisations, refugees and asylum seekers. 

Made in UEL

The aim is to get young people enthusiastic about science by providing local primary and secondary schools with UEL-made, interactive 3D models that demonstrate scientific and technological principles. The focus is on promoting an understanding of real-life science.

Valuing students assets and nurturing ambitions: the role of east London time bank 

Time banking is a way for people to help each other by exchanging their skills – and building self-esteem at the same time. Members use time as a currency and accumulate time credits for the services they provide. A time bank has been set up at UEL, with students being encouraged to get involved.

Exhibition: Passing Through 

The creative, artistic interests and talents of older working-class residents of the East End will be acknowledged and celebrated at a cultural event at a venue located on the Thames. The ‘Passing Through’ theme will highlight the effects of change and impermanence on environments and their inhabitants.

Primary school computing clubs and events

UEL computer games students will be offered training and resource materials to help them run computing clubs and special events at local primary schools. This builds on the experience of UEL senior lecturer Stacey Pogoda in running three primary schools clubs in the Havering area.

Giving hope to the hopeless

The aim is to raise funds for young people living in poverty in Zimbabwe and also to raise awareness about issues affecting young people with disabilities, particularly those living in vulnerable conditions. Money raised will go towards providing a food bank for young people in Bulawayo as well as an event in Beckton to bring young people with disabilities together their community.

Tackling TB, together

A community health worker volunteer programme has been established among health studies students at UEL to raise awareness about TB within the UEL student body and in the local community. Newham bears the highest TB burden in the UK, with 357 cases reported in 2015. This is equivalent to countrywide rates in Russia and China.

Stop and… 

Using drama and storytelling to reflect the rich history of east London, students explore stories taken from the streets and shopping centres of Newham and retell them in the form of audio walks, exhibitions and performances. The concept of ‘Stop and…’ brings with it the opportunity to reflect, to share and to change direction.

Civic engagement as a prevention tool: Understanding drug use in a sexualised, underserved community 

Several young, professional men died in London saunas from 2012-2015. The deaths were attributed to drug overdoses. Neither the mainstream nor gay press covered the deaths extensively. This study attempts to understand the level of knowledge amongst gay men of the risks of drug use; the perception of mortality risk when combined with high-risk sex; and the extent to which the community is being successfully reached by existing health promotion campaigns.

Changing consumer perspective on antibiotic resistance

Antibiotic Resistance (AR) has been described as the biggest global threat to human existence as we know it. With increasing strands of resistant bacteria, a growing number of antibiotics are no longer effective in killing bad bacteria. This project allows students to engage with the UEL and Newham communities to deliver real-life health promotion around AR.

UEL Dance Collective

To increase UEL’s representation in the cultural hub of east London, the UEL Dance Collective has been formed. Dance students are working with students on the Public Health and Health Promotion programmes to promote youth HIV awareness in east London and to explore the role of dance, as a form of fitness, to tackle rising obesity levels in young people. 

Performing the Archive: Living narratives and the politics of performance 

This project develops connections between UEL’s schools and services, students, local communities and archive material relevant to east London. The project empowers UEL students to produce performance theatre based on stories discovered within UEL’s archives and present to a local audience.

Student volunteering team challenges 

This project featured two pilot volunteering team challenges. The first marked National Student Volunteering Week and involved UEL sports students working together to renovate a community running track in Victoria Park, east London. The second involved UEL students working alongside corporate volunteers from JP Morgan at Stepney City Farm. Together they refurbished part of the farm and community allotments. These successful pilots will pave the way for future large-scale volunteering events for UEL students. 

Using green space to benefit families

Government priorities are clear about the need to increase the use of learning outside the classroom and engagement with the natural environment in general. This project evaluates the health, wellbeing and learning outcomes for children and their families by supporting greater access to local green space in east London.