Student Hubs’ One Community Forum

Posted on: 17 November 2020

On Tuesday 17th November, Student Hubs held its third One Community Forum event with 40 external guests from all five of our Hubs in Bristol, Cambridge, Kingston, Southampton and Winchester, including university stakeholders, community partners, Hub students and our Student Hub staff. We were also joined by representatives from the University of Portsmouth and Royal Holloway, University of London.

What is the One Community Forum? 

In 2017, Student Hubs was funded by the UPP Foundation to run a series of events called One Community Forums, which would aim to bring together local stakeholders and community representatives at local Hubs to explore how students could tackle local issues. In previous years, the One Community Forum has been held at a local Hub, with 2017’s event held in Oxford and 2018’s event held in Southampton. 

However, 2020 has been an unusual year for us all and provided a unique opportunity to run the event virtually across all five of our Hubs. The impact of Covid-19 has been a shared challenge for us all, and this year our event provided a way to bring our Hubs together and create collaborative solutions which we could bring into the new year. 

Our 2020 One Community Forum

This year’s One Community Forum had the theme of educational attainment, and discussed how university students can support their communities to tackle challenges relating to education attainment since the impact of Covid-19, specifically focusing on students engaging with 7-14 year olds. 

This was an area highlighted by our Hub staff as a challenge and a concern. All five of our Hubs run Schools Plus, our flagship tutoring programme which runs in primary, secondary schools and colleges, and from our conversations since March we recognised the immense challenges and pressures facing our school partners, our young people, and how students wanted to help and support in this time. 

The short-term and long-term consequences to the impact of Covid-19 will remain in our communities and to be felt by young people for a long time: as a result, this event looked to provide new solutions for collaboration, to support our communities, and to bridge the attainment gap we are seeing grow wider, especially for disadvantaged young people. 

Preparing for the event

In preparing for our One Community Forum, it was important to consult with individuals working for educational organisations, charities and policy groups to understand the scope of the issue, the biggest challenges young people and schools are facing right now, and how Student Hubs could be best placed to support. 

On Thursday 29th October, CEOs, co-founders and senior leaders from a range of organisations joined our one hour roundtable event, chaired by our Sales Director, Fiona Walsh. This included representations from the UPP Foundation, The Brilliant Club, The Access Project, IntoUniversity, Get Further, Public First, Centre for Education and Youth, the Civic Universities Network and South Yorkshire Futures

These conversations were fed back to our guests at the start of our event, providing insight into the biggest challenges faced by young people, schools and lessons learnt by these organisations through the pandemic to help steer and guide our conversations in our breakout room sessions.

Collaborative activities 

After introductions and sharing the results of our roundtable consultation, our Hubs were split into separate groups for the final two hours of the event to discuss their experiences during the pandemic, how students could support communities, and the issue of education attainment. 

The first breakout room focused on the impact of Covid-19 on young people’s educational attainment and how students can support. Discussions from our breakout rooms saw attendees discussing youth aspirations, their relationships, their behaviour and attitude to school and learning, the experience in schools and the challenges faced by young people, schools and student volunteers. 

The second breakout room focused more widely on how university students can support their communities in engaging with young people, with discussions including how communities can be supported, what collaborative efforts could look like, projects which could support careers and how students can support aspirations with targeted projects in and outside of school. 

After a short session for feedback and a break, Hubs were then broken up into local teams, including their university and community stakeholders, in order to plan actions and next steps from the event and how they would scale new initiatives or activities in January 2021 onwards. 

Next steps

Following the event, we are excited to see our Hubs with a variety of plans and actions from the event, which we will be able to share shortly as we move into the new year. 

It is vital that Student Hubs remains flexible and responsive to community need at this time, and our event showed how much young people and students need our support right now. It is a privilege that we can work with our university partners and community partners to deliver support, capacity and expertise to young people during this ongoing crisis, and that we are able to be a part of long-term solutions as our communities rebuild. 

We look forward to updating our attendees and stakeholders in the new year with our plans, what we have done since the One Community Forum, and release our full report about the event and our subsequent response. 

Thank you once again to all who attended and fed into this event. If you think you or your organisation could collaborate with Student Hubs and our university student volunteers, or if you want to find out more about Student Hubs and our work, please get in touch with our Sales Director, Fiona Walsh at fiona.walsh@studenthubs.org.

Fiona Walsh, Sales Director

Fiona is Student Hubs' Sales Director. She leads on university sales, alumni and corporate fundraising, marketing strategy and external relations. Fiona started her social action journey as a student volunteer with Southampton Hub.

Tags: Community, Education, Higher Education, Impact, News, Student Voice


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