In 2022, there are 8 awards that will be given out to 8 deserving recipients. Look through all of the nominees below to discover what they do that makes them Changemakers.
- Community Changemaker of the Year
- Culture and Heritage Changemaker of the Year
- Education Changemaker of the Year
- Enterprise Changemaker of the Year
- Health and Wellbeing Changemaker of the Year
- International Changemaker of the Year
- Staff Changemaker of the Year
- Student Changemaker of the Year
Community Changemaker of the Year
Ability Community Transport
Ability Community Transport is a Community Interest Company with the primary goal of reducing social isolation and loneliness. The CIC was launched by Lynne and Nigel Hinch in 2018 after they identified the need to connect isolated rural communities that have been left behind by the wider transport network. Years of reduced government spending and cuts to local bus subsidies had resulted in a significant reduction in the number of bus routes. Almost overnight, villages which had relied upon public transport to access essential services, suddenly found themselves cut off and isolated.
Working in partnership with other organisations, including Age UK and SOFEA, Ability have been able to expand their provision to support a larger network of people, while also acting as political advocates so that voices of local people are heard by local councils at both the parish and district level. Through this advocacy, Ability have secured their role in rural transport provision and will play a part in collaborating with the council on the government’s new national bus strategy.
Social issues around isolation and loneliness have only increased during the COVID-19 Pandemic, making the work of Ability even more vital. For many isolated people in rural areas, Ability offers a life-changing service that enables them to stay connected not only with services but also with other people, reducing isolation and improving well-being.
Cheryl is Headteacher at St Andrew’s Healthcare, providing education to young people under the care of St. Andrew’s Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service. Through this education provision, Cheryl and her team have substantial experience of recognising signs of trauma, distress and mental ill-health in young people. This experience became the driving force behind the establishment of the LightBulb Mental Wellness for Schools programme, a scheme that develops primary and secondary school teachers to spot the early signs of mental ill-health in children and initiate appropriate early interventions.
Under the leadership of Cheryl, LightBulb provides a framework for the professional development of teachers, allowing schools to improve the mental-health of their pupils and demonstrate excellence in mental-health provision. The programme has so far helped over 11,000 children across Northamptonshire, as well as providing support to their families and raising awareness of the need for a positive mental health experience for school staff themselves.
The potential for this programme to offer much-needed value to all schools across the county is significant, and it is the drive, dedication and passion of Cheryl that has allowed this positive impact to be realised. Through developing, launching and delivering the LightBulb programme, Cheryl has demonstrated herself as a true Changemaker leader.
Harry Burr, an inspirational 15-year-old campaigner and sustainability advocate, is Chief Executive of Sustainable Transport Midlands (STC), a not-for-profit organisation driving the improvement of public transport in the Midlands and beyond. With a focus on sustainable and green transport, STC aims to improve the quality and frequency of public transport, while ensuring that the organisations overseeing transport networks hear, and allow themselves to be guided by, voices of the public.
Their aim, to solve local and regional transport challenges and ensure investment is prioritised in sustainable public transport, is driven by the vision of their work being ‘for this generation, by this generation’, putting people at the centre of creating positive change for their own communities.
Harry is an influential Changemaker role model with the potential to motivate and lead a generation of future Changemakers. The drive, passion and dedication needed to lead a social venture at such a young age illustrates Harry’s capability of continuing to achieve great success, not only with STC, but as a force for positive social change throughout his education and into his career.
Culture and Heritage Changemaker of the Year
Mavis, BA Social and Community Development graduate, is the founder of Power of the Mind Networks, an organisation that she launched in 2017 to give a voice to people from all walks of life through the sharing of stories. When the COVID-19 Pandemic hit in early 2020, Mavis’ resilience and dedication took centre stage, and she faced the difficulties presented as an opportunity to develop in new directions. While many ventures struggled to stay operational through lockdowns, Mavis flourished, and in December 2020 established Power of the Mind Networks as a registered charity.
Since obtaining charity status, Mavis has introduced many new aspects to her work, maintaining her aim of changing mindsets through hearing other people’s lived experiences, while developing culturally focused projects to enhance the African communities of Northampton. Often built around the theme of food, these new initiatives are proving to be well received in the local community, requiring Mavis to further expand and generate capacity within the charity. In 2017, Mavis was named Changemaker Student of the Year and continues to be well deserving of recognition for her dedication to Changemaking and being a cornerstone for positive social impact in her community.
MSc Social Work graduate Mike is a local councillor, community leader and co-founder and CEO of the African and Caribbean Arts and Heritage Union (ACAHU). The ACAHU is an all-inclusive and transformational union, formed to unify African and Caribbean communities to build community cohesion in Milton Keynes. This is a cause Mike is deeply passionate about, dedicating himself to promoting racial equality, cultural identity, inclusion and diversity. Mike believes that in partnership, African and Caribbean communities can recognise diversity, celebrate difference and tackle inequalities to become stronger together.
For Mike, community development is centred around youth engagement, with a need to generate opportunities that integrate young people through their exploration of identity, representation and social justice. This not only builds confidence, motivation and self-worth in young people but also contributes to tackling the increasing problem of gun and knife crime. With over 10 years’ experience in community leadership, development and social care, Mike is an exemplary Changemaker graduate who continues to present himself as a positive role model for the people of Milton Keynes, continually growing his social ventures and projects to create positive impact and sustainable social change.
Q Space is committed to improving the lives of LGBTQ+ people in Northamptonshire in mind, body, and spirit, dedicating themselves to that commitment with endless passion and care. Q Space understands that the personal is political, that LGBTQ+ identities are inextricably linked to wider politics and ignoring this prevents LGBTQ+ people from being seen as whole and gaining the rights they deserve. To this cause, Q Space encourages local LGBTQ+ community members to stand up for their rights and for those of other minority groups as well. This inclusion can be seen at all Q Space events where steps are taken to ensure accessibility is provided for all, creating safe and welcoming spaces for everyone. This demonstrates one of Q Space’s goals; to encourage people from all walks of life to learn and consider how to be more inclusive in their daily lives.
Being a visible presence in the wider community has signalled to LGBTQ+ community members that they have a place in this world, even, and especially when attacks on LGBTQ+ rights are becoming increasingly common. Educating the general public on LGBTQ+ issues and identity benefits everyone, not just members of the LGBTQ+ community, and this makes the work of Q Space valuable to the whole of Northamptonshire.
Education Changemaker of the Year
Local primary school teacher, Charlie, goes above and beyond the responsibility of her role on a daily basis and is the personification of teaching as a vocation. Upon graduating with her PGCE from UON, Charlie was awarded the Vice-Chancellor Award for Excellence and has upheld her outstanding capabilities ever since, dedicating herself to improving the lives of local children through education and personal development. Charlie’s style of teaching offers learning experiences that go beyond the requirements of the National Curriculum, building interactive and immersive learning environments to allow every single one of her students to access every subject and topic in ways tailored to their learning needs.
Charlie’s Changemaker ethos continues outside of school as the author of children’s book series Horatio and Friends, with each book having a theme for children to learn important messages around acceptance, self-belief and resilience. During the COVID-19 Pandemic, Charlie donated copies of these books to local hospitals, along with other items, to support children hospitalised at such an unusual time. The books themselves have been described as remarkable, which is a true reflection of Charlie and the impact she has on the lives of so many young people in Northamptonshire.
Cultural Integration Workshops at UON
UON’s Cultural Integration Workshops, led by Senior Lecturer in Acting and Drama Mrs Gemma Boaden and Professor of Computer Engineering Prof. Michael Opoku Agyeman, were created to tackle the award gap in Higher Education where there is disparity in the attainment levels of students based on ethnicity. They provide students with the skills needed to develop empathy for others’ lived experiences, decreasing fear and creating inclusive learning environments and workplaces, resulting in safe spaces that encourage all people to thrive in education, work, and society.
These workshops are an outcome of collaborations between academics, professional services staff and local organisations, including representation from the LGBTQ+, GEM and Women’s staff networks. Their success has instigated the development of a Postgraduate Certificate and staff development package to further increase cultural awareness and integration in education.
There are many benefits to these developments; students develop their skills in cultural interaction and inclusion while benefiting from the reduction of the award gap; staff will experience an increase in cultural sensitivities across the University’s ways of working whilst developing their own knowledge, and the wider community will benefit from the creation of graduates who have a strong foundation in cultural competency.
This initiative is a true example of innovation in education, embracing the principles of Changemaking to create positive societal impact that is wide-reaching, sustainable and vital for the positive development of our world.
Steph Lee Vae
Tresham College Art and Design lecturer Steph’s passion, enthusiasm and dedication for teaching is unparalleled. Steph’s driving force is compassion and commitment to inclusion – getting the best out of each individual student by understanding their circumstances and making sure everything possible is in place to ensure they can reach their full potential.
During the COVID-19 Pandemic lockdowns when students were unable to showcase their work in exhibitions, Steph founded ArtMesh, a creative arts digital magazine that promotes the work of 10 students every month to global audiences. The immediate success of ArtMesh was so significant that Steph continues to publish it post-pandemic and it has been highlighted as an outstanding example of best practice across The Bedford College Group. Steph is also LGBTQ+ Ambassador for the Art & Design department at Tresham, further demonstrating their commitment to ensuring all students feel safe, seen and included.
Steph is a true example of innovation in teaching, and during recent workshops with UON, was an inspirational advocate for the importance of social change and the role art and design can play in creating positive social impact. As a Changemaker themselves, Steph plays a valuable role in allowing their students to realise the importance and potential of Changemaking through art and design practice.
Enterprise Changemaker of the Year
BA Graphic Communication graduate Marvin, is the founder of Lemonpop Workshops, a therapeutic self-development arts programme built on the philosophy that art-making is central to healing and wellness, improving functional skills, increasing self-esteem and stimulating creativity and imagination.
Marvin designs all elements of Lemonpop activities to inspire imagination and creativity, using the arts as a vehicle to enhance self-identity and communication, facilitating learning through creative expression. This allows people to explore who they are and understand their potential to succeed in life, with the confidence and self-belief that they can be a positive force in our ever-changing world. Marvin offers many of these activities in open, community settings, ensuring they are accessible to all, reflecting the inclusive nature of Lemonpop.
The work of Lemonpop is representative of the person Marvin is. He exemplifies self-awareness, self-improvement and the ethos of allowing your values and passions to drive your decisions. This is inspirational to all young people and adults alike that Marvin works with, and it is apparent in his workshops that his personal influence on the people around him is significant. Through his dedication to developing others, Marvin is a true Changemaker, leading others to realise and achieve their own potential.
Revolution Zero Northampton
Revolution Zero, a Northampton based Community Interest Company, aim to achieve “zero hunger, zero waste” through the redistribution of surplus food that would otherwise be thrown away. Day in day out, their volunteers collect un-sold but perfectly edible food from shops, manufacturers and farms across the Midlands to share in the Northampton community. This process results in an average of three tonnes of food a week being rescued and made available to those who need it most.
Alongside their food rescuing and redistribution, Revolution Zero also aim to raise awareness of food poverty and food waste. Through talks and food demonstrations at shows, festivals and events, the Revolution Zero team show how food ‘waste’ does not need to be waste at all. Further positive impact is generated through the support of volunteers who often grow in confidence, gain new skills and individually benefit from personal development.
In a sector where lorry loads of perfectly edible food end up in landfill every minute, Revolution Zero believe in a sustainable system – one where people do not go hungry, and communities can become sustainable for future generations.
Sports Injury and Rehabilitation Clinic
The Sports Injury and Rehabilitation Clinic (SIRC) at UON is a new venture launched in 2022, providing an effective and affordable healthcare offer to UON students and staff and the local community. The SIRC provide services to help a range of sporting and everyday musculoskeletal conditions, injuries and complaints, from initial consultation to assessments and treatment, sports massage, rehabilitation and recovery sessions.
All clinic activities are delivered by UON Sport Rehabilitation and Conditioning students, with their practice overseen by a clinic supervisor. This offers a vital experience route for students, allowing them to put their learning into practice in a real-life setting, further developing their skills and giving experience of working with paying clients. When learning and experience combine into this hands-on experiential learning, students gain an invaluable addition to their academic programme, allowing them the best possible chance of developing into the successful graduates and professionals they have the potential to be.
The Sports Injury Rehabilitation Clinic is a noteworthy example of a University-based, student-run enterprise that combines a valuable public service with the delivery of work-based higher education.
Unicash LTD was founded in 2109 by UON MBA graduate, Mujtaba Kahn, as an easier way for students to save money. UniCash is a one-stop platform for many of the amenities students need and want to access, offering them discounts on products and services available locally.
Accessible through an app, students can easily and continuously access the services of UniCash in relation to food and drink, hair and beauty salons, health and fitness services, travel, clothing, driving lessons, leisure activities and events. By providing a connection to local businesses, UniCash not only offer students money-saving experiences, but also encourage them to shop locally to support the economy in the area they study.
UniCash was born after Mujtaba experienced the financial difficulties that many students face, viewing this as an opportunity to tackle the problem and design an enterprise that contributes to addressing a significant issue for a very prominent demographic in our communities. As a graduate, Mujtaba is a positive role model for students who identify an issue and want to address it through entrepreneurial activity, representing the potential for business as a mechanism to address social issues.
Health and Wellbeing Changemaker of the Year
Nick launched Talk Mental Health CIC in May 2020 in response to a need for mental health support in Northamptonshire aimed specifically at men. Launched as a peer support group, Nick was able to engage with over 150 men locally, while indirectly reaching thousands nationally and globally. Built around the importance of self-management, Talk Mental Health advocated the need for everyone to take responsibility and ownership of their own mental health.
In recent months, Nick has taken this concept as the starting point from which to instigate a considerable level of development in the CIC, maintaining Talk Mental Health’s ethos while leading activities in a new direction. Nick is now bringing together a diverse group of individuals with lived experiences of mental ill health and disability, who together will get people talking, create connections and offer support through shared experiences. Through a virtual Lived Experience Library, Nick aims to enable people to share lessons learned and the positive outcomes of those who have experienced mental ill-health and disabilities, regardless of gender, age, race, class, culture and disability.
As a disabled war veteran with his own experiences of mental ill-health, Nick has allowed his personal circumstances and passion for public speaking to drive the direction of Talk Mental Health, embodying the values of Changemaking to create positive outcomes for a growing audience.
Pacesetter Sports & Wellbeing Limited
Pacesetter Sports & Wellbeing Limited work with schools, education trusts and communities across Northamptonshire with the aim of giving everybody the opportunity to take part in sport and feel good about themselves. The health and wellbeing initiatives they deliver encourage participation in sport in safe environments, positively impacting the lives of children, their parents and their teachers. These initiatives include PE lessons, extra-curricular clubs, sports competitions, Young Leaders training for year 6 pupils and wellbeing courses including Magnificent Mind Champions for year 5 children. Through these activities, Pacesetter positively impacts 12,000 Northamptonshire children every week.
During the COVID-19 Pandemic, Pacesetter amended their delivery to provide video-led activities that children could partake in at home. These videos, including sessions on fitness, dance, gymnastics and multi-sports, allowed children to stay active and remain connected to the Pacesetter community. Alongside this virtual delivery, the Pacesetter team volunteered for foodbanks and charities across the county to support others in reaching communities with essential services.
This commitment reflects Pacesetters GREAT DREAM ethos, built around the principles of giving, relating, exercising, appreciating, trying out, direction, resilience, emotion, acceptance and meaning. Pacesetter continue to demonstrate their commitment to creating positive impact in Northamptonshire, and by devoting their time not only to their own goals but also to those of other organisations, they are a significant source of positive change for our county’s young people.
For the last five years, Subject Leader of Health Professions, Roshni, has been dedicated to developing the partnership between UON and The Reach for Health Centre. The aim was to provide a placement route for UON Occupational Therapy Students combined with long term research into multiple health conditions and the beneficial effect of physiotherapeutic activities. The Reach for Health Centre is now a recognised student placement centre not only for Occupational Therapy students but also for Physiotherapy and Sports Rehabilitation Students from the University. Without Roshni’s support and determination to provide this unique student experience, the initiative could not have been delivered with the enormous success that has been seen. Roshni continues to support and underpin the partnership with involvement in creating specialist clinics and student workshops in different areas including upper limb and hand therapy.
Alongside this, Rosnhi has been the leading force behind a new training module for the Northamptonshire Health and Care Partnership’s Integrated Care Across Northamptonshire programme. The Improving Frailty Outcomes training offers valuable knowledge to senior health and care workers across the county, enabling them to be better able to identify frailty markers and provide timely interventions to facilitate healthy ageing, and through doing so, reduce hospital admissions related to frailty.
Roshni is described by her colleagues as a remarkable and dedicated individual who is greatly respected and admired for her continued commitment to innovative Changemaking in healthcare.
The Lewis Foundation
The Lewis Foundation, which provides support for the physical and mental wellbeing of adults undergoing cancer treatment, was founded by Lee and Lorraine Lewis in 2016. Following Lee’s mum, Janice, being diagnosed with cancer, Lee and Lorraine witnessed the isolation, boredom and fear of people undergoing cancer treatment, along with many people not being able to afford basic items due to no longer being able to work. After giving small items to other patients while visiting Janice, Lee and Lorraine quickly saw the impact that something as simple as a gift could have on the lives of others, and from there the Lewis Foundation was born.
The charity operates by offering free gift packs to adult cancer patients across NHS hospitals in the Midlands, either at appointments, during treatment or when admitted to hospital. Recipients are offered a choice of 29 gift packs, designed using feedback from patients and hospital staff, so each person can choose the gift that will be most beneficial or comforting to them at that time.
Each week, The Lewis Foundation’s team of 50 volunteers, which includes UON students and staff, fundraise, source, pack and hand out gifts, giving away 2,000 gift packs every month across the 15 NHS hospitals in the Midlands. The size of their growth, with them more than doubling their hospital partnerships from 2020 to 2021, is testament to the impact The Lewis Foundation create, and proof that an idea born out of passion, driven by inspiring individuals, is where true Changemaking begins.
International Changemaker of the Year
Human Resource Management Institute, Sri Lanka
The Human Resource Management Institute (HRMI) in Sri Lanka have been an academic partner of UON since 2015 and have continuously committed themselves to embracing the ethos of Changemaker.
Having won our International Changemaker award in 2020 for their work to educate families about the importance of education to improve life outcomes, HRMI continue to make a significant social impact within Sri Lanka. In August 2021, the country saw a dramatic increase in hospitalised COVID-19 patients with their general hospitals quickly becoming overstretched and unable to safely admit all patients. As this problem developed, HRMI’s director, Gihan Talgodapitiya, realised that city hospitals were overwhelmed and ill-equipped to deal with the pandemic and that immediate action was required to alleviate the pressure.
HRMI secured funding to build a 48 bed COVID ward, using disused buildings within Nivithigala Divisional Hospital, that was able to provide urgent critical care to COVID-19 patients. HRMI furnished this high dependency unit with oxygen tanks, obtained infusion pumps, monitors and oximetres, as well as installing a water supply system, renovating the toilet and shower facilities and providing a generator to ensure the ward remained operational during the frequent power cuts the hospital experiences.
Being able to respond quickly and so impactfully to effects of the pandemic demonstrates the commitment HRMI have to their Changemaker values, and their most recent success is a commendable example of Changemaking.
Myanmar Imperial University
Myanmar Imperial University (MIU) remain committed to their Changemaker ethos despite the turbulent climate that Myanmar currently faces as an effect of both COVID-19 and a military coup that is said to have left over 14 million people in humanitarian need. Through this time, MIU have made significant donations of rice and oil to victims of severe flooding as well as those with reduced access to food due to the pandemic and military coup.
In January 2022, MIU expanded their humanitarian giving to support the Khine Hnin Wai Children’s Home. In Myanmar, pregnancy and single motherhood is considered extremely shameful with little to no government support. Abortion is also illegal and doctors who conduct abortions can face up to 10 years imprisonment. Subsequently, children are frequently abandoned, and with the country’s turbulent climate ongoing, the number of orphans requiring care continues to grow.
MIU supported the children’s home with much-needed donations of hand sanitiser, medical masks, milk formula products for babies and malt-powder to feed growing toddlers, as well as a considerable financial contribution of 60 lakhs (hundred thousand) Myanmar Kyat. 50 lakhs of this donation financed the surgery and medical expenses of 1-year-old Arr Gyi, who otherwise would have been unlikely to receive treatment.
MIU’s ability to stay focused on their responsibility as Changemakers during such an unsettled time demonstrates their resilience and the commitment they have to keeping Changemaking at the core of all they do.
Staff Changemaker of the Year
UON Social Media Manager, Annie, commits a significant amount of time to improving the lives of others through volunteering, focusing on her passion for inclusion and equality for the LGBTQ+ community. Annie’s volunteering efforts can be seen both within UON, where she takes on additional activities outside of her everyday role, and externally across Northampton.
Within the University Annie has delivered talks to staff on topics including Trans history and hosted pronoun badge workshops, raising a significant amount of awareness and highlighting important themes for inclusion. Annie’s talks and workshops have instigated positive discussion amongst both staff and students and have provided a sense of belonging to many people within our University community. Annie is also part of the UON Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Forum as well as Co-Chair of the Staff LGBT+ Network. The network exists to ensure that UON is a safe and supportive space for LGBTQ+ staff, celebrating LGBTQ+ identity through increased visibility, communication, and advocacy, all of which are principles that Annie herself embodies. This can be seen in the work Annie devotes her time to outside of University, volunteering as a member of the Northampton Pride Planning Committee.
Annie is a notable example of the positive impact that can be generated through volunteering, demonstrating that by giving your time to others, fuelled by a personal passion, volunteering is a valuable route to the creation of true Changemakers.
Senior Lecturer in Marketing, Kardi, is the founder of Fridge Street, an enterprise that documents the heritage of Northampton through distinctive illustrations of notable buildings and landmarks. All too often we become unperceptive and unappreciative of the visually impactful display of Northampton’s history, culture and beauty that we share our physical spaces with on a daily basis, and Fridge Street is a direct response to this. Kardi wanted to change the narrative around the death of the UK’s high street, so created a business that celebrates our town centre, giving people the opportunity to view it in a new light.
Through Kardi, Fridge Street is bursting with positivity for Northampton, creating its unique illustrations of iconic, well-loved, and beautiful places across the town, and then immortalising them on giftware including fridge magnets, textiles, mugs and jigsaws. With close to 300 illustrations, Fridge Street has become an ever-growing documentation of the people, places and businesses that mean something to the people of Northampton. Through a simple but beautiful process, Kardi succeeds in presenting a lasting and meaningful narrative of the culture, community and heritage of our much-loved shoe-town.
As a UON lecturer, Kardi represents to her students the potential of innovation and enterprise, showcasing the ethos of Changemaker and how a personal passion can become a social benefit within the community.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 Pandemic, Senior Lecturer in Criminology, Paula, has provided support to the UON Criminology Team and their students through initiatives to improve morale and wellbeing.
She has maintained and encouraged various authors to contribute to the ‘Thoughts from the Criminology Team’ blog, which in a challenging time of social upheaval, offers critical reflection on social injustices, as well as lighter material to encourage people to switch off from the difficulties they face. A popular series introduced by Paula was ‘My Favourite Things’ where authors shared a variety of their favourite things from food, music, places to visit and art. This encouraged staff, students and the general public to reflect upon the positives around them in times of great strain. The Blog, under Paula’s guidance and commitment, continues to attract widespread public interest; with a variety of topics discussed, often in line with wider social movements and concerns.
Paula is also founder of the Criminology Staff Book Club, encouraging staff to read a variety of crime-based fiction books and come together virtually to discuss related themes and areas of interest. This virtual book club encourages staff to engage in time for themselves, something which many did not realise they desperately needed.
Through all her activities, Paula is continuously working to activate both staff and students to contribute to social impact and creatively address issues of wider social concern. Paula truly embodies the essence of changemaker by creating such a difference to the lives of students and colleagues.
UON’s Student Behaviour Coordinator and Sexual Violence Liaison Officer, Rebecca, plays a vital role at UON. Upon joining the University in 2019, she was tasked with identifying negative behaviours which lead to students facing disciplinary measures, with the goal of managing and ultimately reducing these behaviours, while generating more positive outcomes for students who go through disciplinary procedures.
Working closely with the policing, residential life and security teams, Rebecca has been able to effectively identify and address criminal activity, hate crime and sexual violence with the use of behaviour analysis and detection methodologies. While some people struggle to acknowledge that these types of activity happen within our University, they are sadly occurrences that can arise in all environments, and Rebecca’s role is central to minimising this on campus to provide a safe environment for students and staff.
The value that Rebecca brings to students facing disciplinary procedures can only be achieved by her determination to give everybody a chance, to allow people to be seen for who they truly are and to be given the opportunity to choose a new path. For some students, this is a life-changing chance to change the perception of them created by certain behaviours, allowing them to redefine how they are viewed and correct the mistaken and judgemental labels placed upon them.
Through her commitment and empathy, Rebecca has demonstrated herself as an advocate for students, presenting herself as a role model of how one person can so significantly change the lives of others.
Student Changemaker of the Year
Sport and Exercise Science student, Andy, has committed himself to being a Changemaker. Following a stroke in 2011, Andy had to relearn how to walk and talk and now suffers with Aphasia, a condition that makes it difficult for him to understand and produce speech. This was a life-changing experience for Andy which he allowed to lead him into his journey as a UON student and Changemaker. His experience inspired him to explore ways to support the Aphasia community and he has conducted a great deal of research into how others are affected by the condition. He has an honest and open desire to learn from other people and embraces empathy as a driving force for everything he does.
Andy has recently taken on a trek of Mount Everest, aiming to raise £10,000 for Riders for Health, a network of motorcycle riding healthcare professionals who deliver medical support in Africa. Everest is just one of many physical challenges Andy has undertaken, and these have become a passion of his, creating ways to support existing organisations while pushing his own limits. In a previous challenge, he became the first person with a disability to complete The Marathon des Sables, a multi-day, 150-mile ultra-marathon in the Sahara Desert.
Many people commit themselves to fundraising for charities they are connected to, but few with the level of energy, compassion and dedication that Andy demonstrates. He is truly dedicated to Changemaking and embraces personal growth and development as part of that, recognising that being a Changemaker has to begin within.
Charlene, an MA Youth and Community Development student, has dedicated a significant amount of time and passion to reducing knife crime amongst young communities. Through her studies, work and community engagement, Charlene identified that current interventions surrounding knife crime and young people are aimed at those already involved in the crime and the culture that surrounds it, leaving many young people unaware of the dangers of knife crime. These young people are unable to make informed, mature decisions to save their own futures, and potentially lives, when they are targeted into the world of knife crime, leaving them enmeshed in circumstances that they cannot escape. Once involved in this culture, it is often too late for young people to benefit from targeted activities to remove them from these circumstances.
This is the gap that Charlene identified, designing an offer of preventative interventions to reach young people before they become involved in knife crime. This intervention/prevention approach is often easier for young people to engage in as they do not feel personally targeted, attacked or accused, and they are able to develop the resilience to evade a life of knife crime.
Charlene’s programme focuses specifically on the GEM community of Northampton as a community that she has a personal connection to. This connection, along with the willingness of community members to work with her, is testament to Charlene’s suitability to be tackling this social issue. Charlene’s tenacity to succeed with this programme shines through, and she is an outstanding example of the value that can be created when students design their own Changemaker journey through venture development.
Recent graduate of International Business, Christopher, began his Changemaker journey early on in his time at UON. He was successful in being chosen from 100s of applicants to take part in the SocialXchange 2019 due to his interest in tackling social issues through business and enterprise solutions. During this programme, Christopher explored the meaning behind being a Changemaker, and his desire to be a positive force for change in the world deepened. He became committed to the idea of developing his own social enterprise, and since graduating in July 2021 has turned this desire into reality.
Whilst still a student, Christopher devised the seed of an idea to provide a sustainable solution for financial donations to homeless people, and it is this idea that he has developed into an app-based venture. Currently in the prototype stage, Christopher’s app, Friendly, enables contactless donations to a homeless person, either as a one-off or recurring payment, that is transferred into a no-fixed address bank account that has been generated for that person. Friendly allows the account holder to purchase essentials with a block on alcohol and other items that the public often worry homeless people will spend their donations on, potentially increasing people’s likelihood of donating money directly to individuals. Access to a bank account also greatly benefits the homeless person by enabling them to save money for temporary accommodation and deposit any cash donations they receive.
Christopher displays strong personal values, that coupled with his entrepreneurial ability, present great potential to be a Changemaker leader of the future.
British Fire Safety Awareness Tool Project
The British Fire Safety Awareness Tool (BFSAT) project was conducted by Games Art and Computer Games Development graduates Artise Brown, Ben Maher, Gabriel Cruceanu, Wednesday Garrett and William Marshall. The BFSAT tool is a 3D virtual environment with real-time interaction capabilities that covers fire-safety training scenarios within business premises. As a training tool, it introduces the main issues that arise within, and need to be addressed by, businesses complying with UK fire safety law, as well as testing users on their knowledge of protocol, law and workplace responsibility. Within the virtual environment, three rooms have been developed to cover different areas of the workplace; the Reception, Admin Office and Workroom. Across these three rooms, users experience interactions involving the fire control box and fire alarm systems, access and maintenance of fire safety documents and workplace hazards. This unique environment assesses users as they progress, presenting the process of fire safety training as a virtual game.
This gamified approach to training and work-based compliance is becoming increasingly popular, appealing to users in an engaging and memorable way that makes training a more accessible and enjoyable experience. By developing this work, the project students have created a practical demonstration of the potential to expand learning through gaming technology. This exemplifies the potential for Changemaking within the gaming sector and places these students at the forefront of showcasing the social impact that is possible through the art of computer game design.
MSc Child and Adolescent Mental Health student, Kirstie, is the embodiment of what UON stands for as a Changemaker Campus. She not only strives to improve the lives of others but has also faced and overcome personal challenges in order to do so, and this only fuels her motivation to be a Changemaker.
Since the start of her undergraduate degree, Kirstie has fought for improved provision for students at UON who are Young Carers. Being a Young Carer herself, Kirstie knows first-hand the difficulties and additional considerations this brings, and she is determined to do all she can to reduce these barriers for other students. She designed, developed and launched the Carers’ Champion programme, training members of UON staff to offer support to UON students who are Young Carers. To date, Kirstie has trained over 100 members of staff and the programme is now a compulsory training course for some Professional Services staff.
Alongside this work, Kirstie delivers support for our autistic students through events including Autism Pride, and she also founded NeuroDiversity, a support group that provides a safe space for neurodiverse students to socialise, find a sense of belonging and be introduced to University life in an accessible way.
These are only a few of Kirstie’s many Changemaking activities. Each of her achievements would on their own be classed as a success, but when achieved by one individual who allows her personal experiences to be a catalyst for change, Kirstie is nothing short of an inspirational Changemaker.
Photography student Lisa’s love for her art is the catalyst for an enterprise idea that truly reflects the nature of Changemaker. Where most photographers channel themselves into the creation of new images, Lisa’s work is based instead in the power of existing photographs.
Her venture is built around creating memory scrapbooks for people with dementia, using photos from the past that hold memories for the individual. Looking at photographs is one of the best ways to assist with recall of people and their names, which is a valuable source of maintaining and strengthening relationships. When a person with dementia sees a photo of a loved one, or of themselves in a favourite location or cherished experience, it can often instigate conversations about the people or circumstances, sparking fond memories and connections. By collating and presenting these images in a personalised scrapbook, Lisa supports this therapeutic process.
The scrapbooks themselves are made in craft sessions that the person with dementia and their families attend, adding to the shared experience and connection created. Lisa also photographs these sessions, creating new memories that can be added to the scrapbook. Lisa has piloted this concept with families in the community, securing the interest of care homes that she will soon be working with to support their residents.
As dementia care becomes a growing concern in our country, Lisa’s enterprise offers a valuable source of support, delivered by someone who understands the potential that her artistic talents have for creating positive social change.