The University of Birmingham has launched an ambitious volunteering and fundraising campaign which aims to tackle some of the greatest challenges facing society - from cancer and climate change to the refugee crisis and young people’s mental health - and to create more opportunities for young people from less advantaged backgrounds to access University.
The largest fundraising campaign ever launched in the Midlands, Birmingham in Action builds on a long and proud history of philanthropy stretching back to the founding of the University by the city and its people in 1900.
The campaign also aims to support local communities by delivering up to one million hours of volunteering - the largest such campaign by any UK university. As part of this, every member of staff will receive an extra day’s annual leave to support local projects.
University of Birmingham Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir David Eastwood commented: “Birmingham In Action is deeply rooted in the spirit of giving and contributing to society that is at the heart of our University.
“It is an ambitious campaign for an ambitious university and we are proud that Birmingham in Action is set to be the largest fundraising campaign ever launched in the Midlands and the largest volunteering campaign in any UK university.
“We want to inspire and encourage people to help us tackle five major societal challenges and make a real and positive difference to countless lives - both in our home city and around the world.”
The campaign aims to transform lives for current and future generations by tackling some of the world’s biggest challenges:
Preventing and treating cancer
One in two people in the UK will get cancer in their lifetimes. Finding it early and matching the right treatment to the individual make a real difference - particularly in cancers whose symptoms are easily mistaken for other conditions.
Protecting our planet
We consume microplastics in food and water every day. 12 million tonnes of plastics end up in our oceans each year but first we need to stop them entering our rivers.
Improving access to Higher Education
Many young people have the potential and desire to succeed at university, but are held back by circumstances - from finances and responsibilities at home, to lack of confidence and role models.
Young people’s mental health
75% of mental health problems are established by the age of 24. Early intervention could prevent decades of illness, supporting a satisfying and productive life.
The needs of refugee families
It’s nearly impossible to imagine what forces someone to become a refugee. Communities throughout the UK are determined to offer a warm welcome, but need the right tools to do it.
The campaign brings together many of the University’s charitable projects encouraging people to make a gift of time or money that will help turn pioneering research into life-changing solutions, and ensure that young people are not held back by their circumstances.
Donors can enable talented young people from all backgrounds to access education by funding scholarships and bursaries, including financial support for young carers and care leavers. Volunteers can support students by offering work experience and internships or mentoring, as well as delivering guest lectures or career talks.
Individuals can also support a variety of different research projects by making a donation or sharing their expertise with researchers - for example, measuring the amount of plastic in rivers where they live and work, sharing their knowledge of bugs and butterflies, or offering translation support to refugee families.
Volunteers can join the growing body of students already supporting community charities across Birmingham - from working with disabled children and people with learning disabilities, to helping run community events, and coaching pupils from low-income families to help them improve their chances of going to university.