Alice has been an active volunteer with Student Action throughout her whole career as a student at Manchester, getting involved with the Incredible Edible project in her first year and stepping into leadership just one year later. Alice has given a sustained and high-level commitment to this project and has been a key part of its long-term success. She has worked alongside community partners, the University, the Students’ Union, and a range of volunteer co-leaders to help the project flourish, and so many volunteers have benefited from her leadership and commitment.
Alice has been committed to sustainability through student-led volunteering through her whole time at University. This year, she has worked alongside co-leader to re-launch the project, running pop-up activities through the winter months and leading volunteers to get involved in a wide range of outdoor activities that support the local community as well as the health and wellbeing of the volunteers involved.
The project seeks to raise awareness about environmental issues, food justice, and sustainability by cultivating organic vegetables and herbs around the University for the local community to use and access free of charge. Volunteers work on the plots to plant and grow a variety of crops, and ensure the produce is well cared for. Alice ensures that her student volunteers have the opportunity to gain new skills and learn more about how to grow food sustainably on small plots. She is responsible for planning the planting and sessions, training the volunteers on proper care and maintenance, as well as liaising with other community-led groups, such as Friends of Platt Fields, to ensure that the project sits within wider community efforts.
By having fresh fruit and vegetables available in the community and working alongside other community groups, the project aims to promote healthy living, increase access to food in a time where many people struggle with food poverty, and help embed students into their wider community, producing a more sustainable community for everyone. Volunteers can also improve their own knowledge about growing produce, caring for a small plot, and getting to know Manchester better. Going to the sessions helps volunteers to connect with the community outside of the University, and support their own mental health and wellbeing.
As soon as Manchester Refugee Support Network reopened after COVID in 2020, Leah was one of the first people (maybe the first!) to eagerly and kindly volunteer her services to support Manchester's refugee and asylum seeker community in such trying times and with such essential immigration support. She has now helped members of Manchester's more vulnerable and often disenfranchised/forgotten community to complete essential applications for further leave to remain in the country, Travel Documents in order to visit friends and family they have not visited for literal years, and supported refugee and asylum seekers make complicated (and expensive!) naturalisation forms to finally complete their arduous journey to full UK citizenship. Despite her doing so much work, she also amazingly finds time to work on MRSN's Destitution Project and ensure that Manchester's more vulnerable citizens didn't encounter utter food poverty during COVID's darkest periods. Her dedication to supporting Manchester’s refugee and asylum seeker community is astonishing and deserves massive commendation.
Leah has helped more that fifty refugee clients successfully apply for Naturalisation, becoming the final welcoming step to so many Manchester residents who would have been first granted asylum around six years previously to the dream of full British nationality. She has earned the nickname 'Nationality Queen' at the organisation! She also provides even more essential support, when refugee clients are in danger of outstaying their leave or have leave in the country son to lapse, Leah has supported nearly 50 refugee clients apply for Indefinite Leave to remain and ensure that their stay in the UK will not be cut short.
Yasmin is founder and leader of Dentists in Primary Schools (DiPS), a student-led widening participation initiative that delivers oral hygiene workshops for Key Stage 1 pupils. Yasmin recognises that oral health inequality is a significant public health problem and founded DiPS in order to help reduce the high rate of tooth decay among children in Greater Manchester by partnering with local primary schools and teaching good dental hygiene. Yasmin draws on her expertise as a current dental student to deliver fun, hands-on workshops on topics including tooth brushing, visiting the dentist, tooth modelling, and sugar. As well as improving knowledge of dental hygiene, Yasmin aims to alleviate some of the anxiety children might have about visiting the dentist.
Yasmin and her team have delivered sessions so far this academic year involving 30 volunteers and reaching some 270 children in the local community. All activities are well-resourced and serve as a memorable learning experience that encourages pupils to transfer their newly-gained skills to caring for their own teeth. Yasmin is committed to prioritising pupils most in need of support, delivering workshops at no cost to partner schools. In forming partnerships, Yasmin conscientiously targets schools in the top quintile of primary schools with the highest proportion of disadvantaged pupils, as well as those in the bottom 40% of primary schools in terms of academic performance.
With the support of her committee, Yasmin oversees all aspects of the project, including session planning and coordination, volunteer management, budgeting, promotion, and stakeholder communication.