In 2018, there were 12 awards given out to 13 deserving recipients. Look through all of the nominees and winners below to discover what they do that makes them Changemakers.

Changemaker Community Initiative of the Year

Winner – Bellinge Community House

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Bellinge Community House endeavours to improve their local community through the advancement of education, furtherance of better health and the relief of poverty, sickness and distress. They recently facilitated a project to provide a low cost accessible programme of sport and physical activity to impact on the long-term participation levels of those living in the wards of Bellinge and Ecton Brook. The programme engaged the whole community but was targeted to those who are inactive and specifically those from the following groups: women and girls, older people, disabled people and those from Black and Ethnic Minority backgrounds. As well as encouraging residents to engage in the project as participants, opportunities were developed for them to volunteer their time as Community Champions to promote the project within their communities. Individuals were also identified and developed as Local Leaders / Activators who were provided with training, 1:1 support and mentors, with the long-term aim of sustaining the activities and maintaining participation in the area. Through the project 234 people took part in sport, leisure and training activity with 164 people reporting improved health and well-being. Bellinge Community House demonstrates a commitment to engaging the local community and making a significant contribution to improving the health and well-being of the people who live in the wards it serves.


Deafconnect – Deafconnect’s aim is to empower all people with a hearing loss to achieve their full potential and become a fully included member of the community. They are the only charity to provide services for deaf people in Northamptonshire and have been providing support since 1874. Over the last year they have facilitated a 12 month programme of events and activities to enable their service users to try new things, gain new experiences and learn new skills in a safe, supported environment which will improve their access to opportunities and quality of life. Based on the core principles of empowerment, reducing social isolation, improving well-being and improving confidence the project allowed service users to be directly involved in the planning by suggesting the types of activities they would like to be able to partake in. The resulting activities included craft sessions, shopping parties, guest speakers and excursion days. One of these excursions, a day trip to the Cutty Sark, included a tour led by a profoundly deaf historian who delivers his information in British Sign Language. It is extremely rare for deaf people to experience tours in their native language so this is just one example of the significant impact created by the project. Deafconnect’s contribution to raising awareness of the issues faced by deaf people and those with hearing difficulties is exceptional as is their commitment to support deaf people in the community.

Live at Home Northampton – Live at Home Northampton’s aim is to reduce social isolation and loneliness for older people who have few, or no, family or friends and have become withdrawn from their local community. This community initiative helps service users in the borough of Northampton to maintain their independence by providing them with a variety of services and social support. Part of this offering is the provision of an activity programme designed to bring people together in social settings while increasing independence and engagement in the community. These activities include twice weekly Lunch Clubs, providing fresh home-cooked meals, quizzes and a chance to socialise; a weekly Fitness, Fun & Friendship group to encourage mobility and independence; social outings to encourage people to develop friendships; and a fortnightly Craft Group, helping people’s creativity and manual dexterity. The provision of this programme aims to combat the social isolation felt by many older people who are unable to get out of the house without support and Live at Home Northampton have made a positive impact on so many people’s lives.

The Krush Klub iDID Adventure – iDID Adventure aims to promote the positive use of adventure sports to improve well-being, confidence and self-esteem among marginalised young people. The charity achieves its aims by delivering specialist adventure programmes and recreational youth clubs for young people affected by additional physical, sensory, learning and emotional needs in Northamptonshire. The Krush Klub was a girl’s empowerment programme targeted to at-risk young women. It used wakeboarding as a platform to increase confidence, self-esteem and social capital. An initial pilot project was followed by a 6 week opt in club for continuation. The sessions created an inclusive and supportive environment for teenage girls to experience positive relationships, social experiences and engagement with healthy body image, something many marginalised teenage girls struggle with. The female volunteers and instructors became positive role models for participants helping to enforce an improved sense of self worth and confidence.The Krush Klub enabled young ladies aged 14-18 who struggle to engage in statutory, therapeutic, and social environments to improve their confidence and well-being in a safe environment.

Changemaker Lecturer of the Year

Winner – Vicki Dean, Subject Leader: Foundation Study Framework

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Vicki has been the driving force to embed Changemaker within the curriculum of the Foundation Programme. The Foundation Study Framework offers a new and exciting route into studying for a degree, attracting ambitious and driven students who are willing to learn and advance, no matter what their educational background. Since taking over as Subject Leader, Vicki has created a team that has instilled Changemaker values into her students’ learning; giving them the foundation to find their own voice and way of effecting change in the world. She has engaged across the University and beyond to inform how the Framework can not only support students with Changemaking, but to ensure that students are fully equipped to excel at their studies. Her approach has been collaborative and student focused, and her leadership has ensured that the building blocks to creating the Changemakers of the future are in place on the Foundation Study Framework. Vicki embodies the ethos of what it is to be a Changemaker and is fully committed to making a positive impact both for, and with, her students.


Alison Power, Senior Lecturer in Midwifery – As Senior Lecturer in Midwifery, Alison has embedded the Changemaker principles and values within her modules. Her students are taken through a social innovation process to explore what they are passionate about so they can identify changes they would like to see in society. They are further encouraged to explore how they can make a positive change within their area of specialism and are tasked with identifying a midwifery focused Changemaker project that could have a social impact on either themselves, their peers or the community. To further this embedding of Changemaker, Alison is working on a new programme for her Level Six students that will see them develop a Changemaker project that they will pitch to the Changemaker Hub for the opportunity of funding, giving them a real opportunity to set their ideas in motion. By embedding Changemaker in the midwifery curriculum through these projects Alison is introducing her students to new ways of thinking and new ways of viewing how their career can have a positive impact on society.

Tracey Sherwood, Senior Lecturer in Photography – Tracey has worked tirelessly to create Changemaker opportunities for her students while ensuring that photography is recognised as a valued element of the University’s commitment to STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths); a programme designed to raise aspirations and open opportunities for young people. She is engaged in all STEAM events offered to local schools and has developed a programme which supports her students in facilitating photography workshops for the pupils and young people that attend. Through these events she provides her students with unique opportunities to engage socially with the community, utilising their speciality to inspire others while developing their own teaching skills. In this way she is opening the world of Changemaker action to her students and creating the connection to their personal employability development.

Changemaker School of the Year

Winner – Greenfields Primary School

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In the 2017/18 academic year Greenfields Primary School embarked on a project to explore the meaning of well-being within their school and local community. Pupils from the School Council developed a programme to transform the school’s awareness and engagement in understanding mental well-being for pupils, staff, parents and the wider community. To increase the reach of the programme all parents were invited to take part in a well-being afternoon to encourage the parents and children to participate in the activities together and learn skills that they can make use of at home. The programme has impacted hugely on the individuals who took part in the pilot project, raising awareness of real actions that can be taken to improve mental well-being. After the successful initial pilot programme, the School Council started work on developing an on-going scheme, to include a rolling six week programme of targeted interventions for those known to the school as having poor mental health and well-being. This scheme will be run in conjunction with the school’s Family Support Workers and will ensure an even greater impact going forward.


Duston Eldean Primary School – Duston Eldean Primary School promote the notion of HUGG (a Huge Unbelievable Great Goal) to their pupils as a way of engaging them as a community in the pursuit of a shared goal. HUGG encourages pupils to think entrepreneurially and aims to inspire and empower individuals to realise they can make a change and have a positive impact on others. HUGG is underpinned by a “pay it forward” culture, helping children realise they are important members of their community and that their small actions can make huge differences to the lives of others. Most recently the pupils devised and implemented their own initiatives to raise money to buy a fellow pupil a new wheelchair. This was done in their own time whilst being supported by the school. Duston Eldean Primary School is driven by the belief of giving their pupils a voice in order to build a strong, supportive community.

Malcolm Arnold Prep School – At Malcolm Arnold Prep School the ethos of Changemaking is embedded in everything they do. Their school community is created around a set of core values which strongly reflect the values of Changemaker. Each half term they focus activities on different aspects of these values, introducing the new children to what it means and deepening the understanding of the older children. A key aspect of their community is their Passport to the Moon programme, an extra-curricular programme designed to encourage children to learn new skills, empathise with others and contribute to their local communities through new experiences and opportunities.In the summer term of 2018 a group of Malcolm Arnold Prep School children assisted with UON’s SocialXchange where they shared their perspective and opinions with groups of students exploring social issues. The oldest of these children was only eight, but despite their age they were easily able to understand the concept and importance of social change and they added genuine value to the conversations. This speaks volumes to the way that the children are growing and embracing the ethos of Changemaking.

Changemaker Staff Member of the Year

Winner – Chris Powis, Head of Library & Learning Services

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As Head of Library and Learning Services, Chris is instrumental in encouraging his department to embrace Changemaker in both their personal development and service delivery. He leads on their ever-growing programme of Changemaker initiatives including Lunchtime in the Library, Telling Tales, Story Seekers Reading Groups, the Skills to Succeed Project with the Beehive, Love in the Library and Exam Stress Workshops. He actively encourages his team to think as Changemakers, not only in their University roles but also in their personal lives and engagements outside of University. Chris is recognised across University as being an individual who truly embodies and shares the Changemaker ethos in the way he approaches the world and his commitment to ensuring both the staff and student experience is enhanced through Changemaker.

Nominees –

Jason Day, Communication Officer – Press & PR – Since joining University, Jason has been an enthusiastic champion for Changemaker at Northampton. Through his role as Communications Officer he is committed to raising the profile of the Changemaker activities across campus and impacts everyone he works with through his contagious commitment and passion for Changemaker. Jason’s expertise in identifying how best to make the most out of marketing and promotional activity, to not only raise awareness for the University but also for the students’ ventures and initiatives, has generated much interest and inspired many students to consider starting their own ventures. His ability to tell Changemaker stories in a compelling and engaging way has resulted in the good work of our staff and students gaining media and network access. Jason displays a commitment to Changemaker that exemplifies a belief in its importance and relevance to the University and its students.

Dr Rachel Maxwell, Head of Learning & Teaching Development: Policy & Practice – Rachel has been a long-time advocate and deliverer of Changemaker across the University. Over the last few years, she has been committed to embedding Changemaker in learning and teaching as a way of enhancing the student learning experience and ensuring that Changemaker is available across all curricula and subject areas.The result of her work has been to develop and initiate the introduction of the ChANGE Framework to embed Changemaker, employability, and digital literacy across the University’s entire curriculum. This is unique to the University of Northampton, and is seen as a ground-breaking piece of work, attracting global attention for its innovative approach to engaging staff and students in its design, implementation and differentiation of curriculum. Rachel’s leadership and commitment to Changemaker and learning and teaching has been a major influence on how Changemaking in the curriculum has developed.

Changemaker Student of the Year

Joint Winners – Bethel Tadesse, Education and Social Care Graduate (left) &
Laney Holland, BSc Midwifery Graduate (right)

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Bethel Tedesse – Bethel is a recent Joint Honours Education and Social Care graduate who is passionate about women’s rights and women’s health. This passion and her experience of volunteering with several organisations led her to launch her own enterprise, Hidden Scars. Founded in February 2015, Hidden Scars’ aim is to inform professionals and students about Female Genital Mutilation with the overall aim of reducing the practice. The project, that works mainly in Leeds and Northampton, also works with schools and foodbanks to provide disadvantaged girls with sanitary products.The development of Hidden Scars was underpinned by Bethel’s professionalism and desire to make a difference. Her actions truly reflect the transformational practice that underpins the University’s Changemaker approach; using your education to make a difference in areas that matter most to you.
Laney Holland – Laney, a recent BSc Midwifery graduate, is passionate about eradicating Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). She is well known in the county and town for her tireless campaigning on the subject and is seen as a pioneer in the county on this subject. Combining her vocation with her passion, she is approaching the issue through maternity services from her position as a Midwife. Knowing that she wanted to focus on supporting victims and educating communities she established the charity Creating Equalz. The charity aims to find positive and meaningful solutions to race inequalities through a variety of programmes and projects. Initiatives to tackle the practice of FGM include an awareness raising training programme for professionals and communities and an information booklet, developed in close consultation with local communities affected by the practice, which provides a clear referral pathway for survivors suffering from the consequences of FGM. Laney’s passion and her persistence in the face of constant challenges mean that Laney will continue to strive for justice for these young women in our community.

Nominees –

Hulda Adao – Hulda, a final year student in BA International Tourism Management and Event Management, is driven by helping, supporting and listening to young people to give them a voice in the world. It was this passion that led her to create EyeSpeak, a social venture which aims to raise awareness of social issues amongst young people by providing an environment where they can share ideas and develop their own solutions. Under the umbrella of EyeSpeak, Hulda further developed a project called Social Status. This has been designed to challenge social norms and raise awareness of areas which include bullying in schools, awareness of mental health, knowledge of LGBT, relationship issues and race. Hulda truly believes that young people deserve a platform through which they can be empowered to make their own changes and challenge the issues they face in school and everyday life.

Paul Millen – Paul is an MA History student and recent graduate in Joint Honours Social Care and Law. Paul is a pivotal member of the group that developed and launched Safe Until Daylight, a community programme offering shelter to homeless people in Kettering. The shelter provides help for up to 75 people every week and is well reported to have increased well-being within the homeless community of Kettering. The opening of Safe Until Daylight is just one success in a life-long commitment to community engagement which has seen Paul continuously involved in supporting and fundraising for different organisations. For Paul this commitment is simply a way of life and shows his dedication to helping others, the true essence of a Changemaker.

Changemaker Team of the Year

Winner – The Law Department

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The Law Department have developed a strong portfolio of activities that have supported local organisations to be sustainable through the application of legal expertise. These include the successful StreetLaw programme which provides public legal education and information for Northamptonshire, which has in the last few years targeted information on key issues, for example tenancy and homelessness, ensuring that the information is taken to those in need. In addition, the monthly pro bono legal advice clinic, run in conjunction with Citizens Advice Bureau and Shoosmiths, allows students to gain sector experience, working as note takers and researchers, whilst at the same time developing an understanding of a wide range of legal matters and the realities they create for people in the community. The Law Department’s commitment to creating partnerships across sectors provides a level of service to those who cannot afford to access the legal profession in any other way. Their commitment and passion to all their activities provides law students with valuable exposure to real life experiences and situations and, in no small way, ensures that people without access to legal advice can gain justice.

Nominees –

The Foundation Framework Team – The Foundation Framework Team have worked as a unit to fully embrace the redesigned Foundation Study Framework putting Changemaker at its heart. Study at Foundation Level could be just about learning simple tasks in different degree programmes, but the whole team’s vision and determination has resulted in Changemaker being implemented in a structured and progressive manner across the whole programme, with a strong focus on the meta-cognitive skills developed through the whole Changemaker Graduate Outcomes Framework. The team supports the largest single grouping of students addressing social problems through Changemaker. They support students studying across 50 different degree programmes, developing employability skills, developing skills in social innovation and tackling many of the non-curricula challenges that affect a student’s academic success.

Changemaker University Initiative of the Year

Winner – Roots of Empathy

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The Roots of Empathy Programme, run in partnership with the University of Northampton, raises levels of empathy in children, resulting in more respectful and caring relationships and reduced levels of bullying and aggression. The programme brings parents and young babies into primary schools so that pupils can learn empathy skills. Visits occur at regular points throughout the school year so that the school children can see the baby’s development and the parent-child relationship while learning to understand the baby’s emotions and how the baby communicates throughout the first year of its life. Pupils are encouraged to identify not only the way the baby develops, but their own feelings, and how their behaviour can impact the feelings of others. To date over 400 local children have been involved in the programme, developing their social and emotional connections.The project has recently been used as an example in Universities: Improving Futures, a campaign by Universities UK, to demonstrate how a university when connected to the community can make a significant social impact. Roots of Empathy has gained the University of Northampton international recognition for its work, and has highlighted the University’s expertise in early years education.

Nominees –

NLive – Launched in October 2016, NLive was launched as a joint venture between the University of Northampton and the community to provide a quality community radio station to the communities of Northampton. It operates as a social enterprise and exists solely for the benefit of those who live, learn, work and play in Northampton, giving the University a mechanism through which it can connect to local communities whilst offering a platform through which community voice can be heard. Based in Northampton’s Cultural Quarter, NLive supports local groups and organisations through promotion, advocacy and initiatives that positively affect everyone in the community. By giving a voice to the community, NLive facilitate discussions on the most important and locally relevant issues while actively seeking to involve the community in setting the agenda for news and current affairs. The radio station plays a vital role in enriching the student experience by offering placements, internships and volunteering roles to UoN students as well as students from other HE institutions and local secondary schools and colleges. This unique combination of community engagement, schools’ involvement, connection to the student experience and promotion of Northampton offers a valuable resource through which Changemaker activities can emerge and be promoted.

UnityDEM – UnityDEM, co-run by the University of Northampton, the County Council and First for Wellbeing, is an advice and support service for people recently diagnosed with dementia and their carers. UnityDEM differs from other centres in the country by helping those with dementia and their carers together – under one roof. Service users receive specialised care, information, training and socialising opportunities to help them feel less isolated. All activities and support on offer are free for all members and include: cognitive stimulation therapies, craft and creative activities, sport, dance and other movement activities such as Tai Chi and armchair aerobics.Initially a 12 month pilot project, UnityDEM is shadowing service users to measure the effectiveness of the advice, guidance and well-being activities provided. The centre’s impact is currently undergoing evaluation with the view to establishing UnityDEM as a permanent presence in the town.

Waterside Procurement – The University of Northampton is committed to delivering greater social value and social impact through its procurement processes. Waterside Campus, being the biggest investment that the University has ever made, has been key to this delivery.Leading on from the Waterside experience, the Waterside Procurement Team have produced a procurement handbook titled ‘How to do good stuff when buying things ‘. The first of its kind for a UK Higher Education Institute (HEI), its purpose is to provide procurement managers of HEIs with a guide on how they can include social impact clauses in their procurement processes when considering major purchasing decisions, including construction projects.Endorsed by Social Enterprise UK, Universities UK and the Higher Education Procurement Association, copies have been sent to all Vice Chancellors and Finance Directors of UK HEIs. It is hoped that this will enable HEIs to re-evaluate their supply chains in order to encourage the use of social enterprises in order to deliver social impact through procurement.

Community Changemaker of the Year

Winner – Liz Carroll-Wheat

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Liz held a pivotal role in the development and delivery of School of Life, a lottery funded intergenerational project bringing different ages and experiences together to share and learn new skills across Northamptonshire. Liz has been crucial to the success of the project and with her energy, commitment, pure excitement and passion the project has gone from strength to strength exceeding all targets over the past three years. Through Liz’s driving passion the project has worked across the community and has developed partnerships with care homes, schools, youth groups, the University of Northampton and local councils and has engaged with the general public through a range of fabulous events. These events included The Eclectic Catwalk which saw Liz working with local theatre creative Tamsyn Payne to bring together a fashion show with a difference. Liz generated connections with local businesses, University of Northampton students, Age UK and School of Life members to produce a fusion of fashion and generations. It is Liz’s creativity, vision and enthusiasm for bringing together so many groups that has contributed to the strong relationships and sustainable partnerships that made School of Life the success that it was.

Nominees –

The Lab – The Lab is a community led members club with a big heart and a passion for entertainment. As an independent venue, treasured by its community, it operates as a Co-operative, providing a rolling programme of events to get people dancing, thinking, laughing and singing. It also provides an open, welcoming and supportive space for new artists to develop their skills, record and promote their music.They have worked actively, and passionately, to rebrand the former Labour club into a party-neutral, creative space for the whole community. It is a safe space for families and individuals to enjoy poetry, spoken word, music and other creative sessions as well as family fun days and events for children. Staff and members alike work tirelessly to promote the centre and share their purpose and drive, resulting in a well-loved and successful community space that has truly embraced the idea of community spirit.

Nenescape Landscape Partnership Scheme – Nenescape is a five year collaborative project, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, that brings together partners from along the River Nene between Northampton and Peterborough to understand and promote the identity of the Nene Valley. It combines community heritage, historical research and public engagement to celebrate, protect and conserve the natural and built heritage of the landscape. It is an exploration of how past industries and people have shaped the area in order to secure its future. The river valley has many hidden gems including ancient mill sites, wintering bird habitats, nationally important Roman archaeology and buzzing wildflower meadows, but these are under threat from fast population growth. Nenescape supports projects and individuals working in the area through the sharing of skills and knowledge, increasing access to the landscape and ensuring that the river is resilient to the increasing visitor numbers. Led by The River Nene Regional Park, the project works in partnership with a wide range of organisations with the aim of bringing communities together and developing people’s skills to respond to current and future pressures through the interpretation and restoration of heritage and habitats.

Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust – Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust (NHFT) have worked continuously over the last two years to develop volunteering, significantly increasing both their volunteer numbers and the diversity of their volunteer team. A crucial factor in this development is the inclusion of current and ex-service users who are given the opportunity to volunteer within the Trust to aid their own recovery. The Trust truly appreciates the significant impact that people with a lived experience can have on current service users and inpatients. A brokerage scheme has also been developed that gives inpatients on a discharge plan the opportunity to explore volunteering in the wider community with support from the occupational therapy team. Giving patients the opportunity to volunteer both during and after their care provides them with structure, hope and a sense of value and has empowered some to go on to gain employment. These developments have shown an innovative approach to volunteering within the Trust and the schemes work alongside the continued efforts to recruit volunteers from both the University of Northampton and the wider community, offering skills development, training and valuable experiences to all.

Wellingborough Black Consortium – Wellingborough Black Consortium (WBC) advocates on behalf of young people who are excluded or risk exclusion from school and runs engagement activities with other organisations to promote the value of education. Their overall aim is simply to keep children in school. There is ample evidence that school exclusion impacts disproportionately on those from lower socio-economic backgrounds and BAME communities and it is children from these backgrounds that WBC aims to help. They reach out to children who show great potential but don’t engage fully in education because they don’t have the family experiences of the amazing opportunities education can offer. These children are engaged through a range of community activities such as sports, beauty activities and DJing. By showing the transformative power of education and working to keep children in school, WBC is addressing individual and community issues in a community plagued with gang culture and poverty. There are children across Wellingborough today who are still in education who without WBC’s advocates would have been excluded.

International Changemaker of the Year

Winner – Dr Michael Opoku Agyeman, Senior Lecturer in Computing

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Michael is the founder of the SmartWorld initiative, an internationally collaborative project that uses technology, particularly Internet-of-Things (IoT), to provide solutions to potential crisis in developing countries. Through the SmartWorld initiative, Michael has put new teaching methods in place to produce real-world practical solutions to these issues in the form of projects, dissertations and research. In addition, the project has attracted externally funded international research students, from Ghana and Iraq, to the University of Northampton. Michael continues to inspire students with his ambitious tenacity that highlights the multidisciplinary benefits of using computing to improve health and well-being on a global scale.

Nominees –

Dr Helen Poole, Deputy Dean Faculty of Health & Society – Helen has been pivotal in the development of the Centre for the Reduction of Firearms Crime, Trafficking and Terrorism, which is the first research centre of its type in the UK. The centre brings together a global network of experts (practitioners, academics and policymakers), in order to develop research questions, projects and evaluations, which provide findings and recommendations that address contemporary challenges in harm reduction related to firearms. The centre aims to increase international cooperation in tackling the threat of firearms related crime, trafficking and terrorism, and increase knowledge and understanding of the challenges of firearms related crime and terrorism through the UN Doha Declaration to Promote a Culture of Lawfulness through primary, secondary and tertiary education systems.Helen embodies Changemaker, and her passion to have a positive impact on the world around her is evident to all she engages with.

Social Venture Start-Up of the Year

Winner – The Learning Bus

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Tracey Thorne recently graduated from BA (Hons) Learning and Teaching. Through her experience as a teaching assistant, Tracey was very aware of the amount of services schools need to provide, and the barriers to doing so. In 2017 Tracey set up The Learning Bus, a Community Interest Company, which brought her desire to support struggling schools and her passion for providing food education together. The Learning Bus is a mobile teaching space facilitating healthy eating education, that has to date reached over 300 children. The bus allows the children to explore and learn what they like and don’t like; understanding that healthy eating education isn’t just being told what to eat, but is about choice and variety within a range of healthier options. Through support from the Changemaker Hub and the Enterprise Club, Tracey was granted funding and has been able to expand her offer over the summer months, developing her resources and employing an intern from the Entrepreneurship Foundation Course at the University of Northampton. Tracey has recently taken advantage of the Ready to Grow Project, run by Building Business based within the University of Northampton’s Innovation Centre, who have worked with her to refine and improve The Learning Bus CIC.

Nominees –

Camp Brain Box Ltd – Launched by Megan Partridge, a graduate of BSc Psychology and Counselling and MA Social Innovation, Camp Brain Box UK is dedicated to creating innovative solutions to improve mental health, self-care and self-development. They currently have two projects: Brain Box UK and Camp BB. Brain Box UK is focused on making the act of gift-giving simple, cost effective and a way of improving social issues prominent today with regards to individual mental health, well-being, self-care and self-development. In addition to offering a range of unique gift solutions, they promote the idea of Random Acts of Kindness, by offering the opportunity for customers to donate a Safe Box to someone living with a severe mental illness.50% of profit from sales of Brain Boxes funds placements for individuals living with severe mental illness to attend one of their Camp BB programmes. Camp BB will be initially launched in Northamptonshire and is a self-care glamping camp based on the premise of a traditional American summer camp combined with a British garden party. The programmes will focus on a variety of activities including fitness, well-being, alternative therapies and skills workshops.

Green and Lean – Green and Lean is a venture established by Tom Anastasiou, a BA Business Entrepreneurship student, whilst in his first year at University. Being a qualified sports nutritionist, Tom has always had a passion for healthy food and an understanding of the benefits it can bring to mental health and well-being. Before coming to university Tom had already considered the idea of launching a healthy fast food company to expand the availability of healthy and nutritionally rewarding food. After moving onto campus and recognising nutrition to be an ever growing issue among students, Tom decided to put his idea into action. By accessing the support of the University’s Enterprise Club and Changemaker Hub he was able to launch the UK’s first street food van aimed at helping you meet your health and fitness goals. Nutrition is the core value of Green and Lean and is the essence of all their dishes. After trialling his venture in Northampton, selling his food on campus, Tom has increased the scale of his venture by relocating to London in order to access a wider market sector.

Hats for Humans – Katalina Amanovich, a BSc Occupational Therapy student, established Hats for Humans in her second year at University. The venture addresses the social problem of Human Trafficking. She was inspired to tackle this issue through a connection with someone involved in the development of biometric police technology used in National and International investigations of abuse against vulnerable persons. Katalina recognised that human trafficking is a vast term that can cover specific areas such as sex trafficking, under-paid workers and slavery. As she knew that she could not address all of these individually she wanted to develop a project that raised awareness of the whole issue and funds that could be channelled into a variety of areas. She based her venture around her experience of living in Canada, where beanies and toques are popular accessories with a large target audience. Although still in the development stage, Katalina has designed a Hats for Humans logo that will feature on the accessories and a percentage of all sales will be channelled back into relevant organisations.

Students’ Union Changemakers of the Year

Winner – Game Changers

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As a society Game Changers have a strong commitment to creating social value and cohesion among students. Over the last academic year they focused their activities on creating a greater awareness of mental health issues within the student community as well as raising funds for The Lowdown in a bid to reduce waiting time for new service users. As a group they recognised the importance of allowing students to speak openly about mental health and explore topics in a safe environment. They have truly embraced the need to acknowledge that mental health is an increasing problem for all age groups and are dedicated to addressing this within University.To raise awareness of this vital cause they committed themselves to planning and implementing an on-going programme of events on campus to reach as many students as possible. This included a panel session, in the style of Question Time, which saw a group of sector experts tackling questions from an audience of staff and students and a Tea and Talk event where students were able to openly discuss mental health issues with their peers. The committee have fully embraced the Changemaker ethos and their passion for change has driven all their activity this year. Their desire to increase awareness about this important issue has been underpinned by a desire for students to know where they can go for help and how peer support can be generated in friendship groups.

Nominees –

The Meditation Society – The Meditation Society is dedicated to providing a space for students and staff to explore and experience meditation practices under guidance from experienced meditators. It is a secular society that welcomes people from all backgrounds and offers a range of meditative practices from different traditions. This year they were recognised as the Best Hobby and Interest Society at the annual NUS’ National Society Awards. Meditation sessions are open to people from all levels of experience from complete beginners to long time practitioners. The Society’s aim is to provide a platform for people to pursue an interest in meditative practices and to experience the benefits that these practices can offer. They lead regular meditation sessions and have offered sessions to external users outside of the University, including school children, the homeless and college students. They believe that meditation is a fantastic tool to achieve change and work collaboratively to support and promote positive mental health.

Student Action for Refugees (STAR) – The STAR group has organised various events for raising awareness within the University community about the issues asylum seekers and refugees face nationally and regionally. They organised a ‘Refugee Diaries’ screening event to familiarise people about the issues through real-life examples of refugee stories. Working in collaboration with the Economics Society they organised ‘Refugees: The Impact’, an educational panel designed to enable students to discuss the economic and political impact that refugees and asylum seekers have in the UK. These are just two of the successful activities that this dedicated group undertook over the course of the academic year. They were one of the first student groups to ever present to the University’s Board of Governors where they asked for a proportion of University funding to be assigned for the benefit of asylum seekers. Increasing access to higher education for asylum seekers and refugees has been an important focus in all their work.

The Trampolining Society – The Trampolining Society over the last academic year have demonstrated their significant commitment to Changemaking and were awarded the University of Northampton’s Students’ Union’s Changemaker Award. They focused their activities to benefit a local Northampton charity, Do it for Dementia, which aims to create dementia friendly spaces in Northampton General Hospital and to raise the awareness of dementia care. To raise money towards the charity‘s fundraising campaign they have volunteered at Northampton General Hospital and undertaken a 160ft bungee jump in Windsor. In addition, the society also took part in This Girl Can, a campaign which is a celebration of women who are engaging in sport and physical activity; helping women overcome the fear of judgement that is stopping many from joining in.

Changemaker Special Achievement Award

Winner – Suzi McGowan, MSc Child & Adolescent Mental Health and Chief Executive of iDID Adventure

Image by Paul Michael Hughes Photography T 07790819111 UK E W
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