Academics and charities discuss exciting collaborative research opportunities

Image for news piece on CUPI

A group of our esteemed academics came together to discuss potential research projects with two prominent national charities, as part of the Community-University Partnership Initiative (CUPI) scheme.

CUPI load of that

The workshop, funded by the CUPI scheme and hosted by BCU’s School of Law, saw academics from across all four faculties meet with representatives from City Year UK and Youth Sport Trust. Both charities are focused on youth social action, with City Year UK providing volunteer mentors to support school pupils from disadvantaged communities, in order for them to enjoy and thrive at school. Youth Sport Trust, meanwhile, are a national charity actively encouraging young people to enjoy the life-changing benefits that come from sport.

Collaboration is key

CUPI is a scheme that introduces community organisations, including charities, voluntary organisations and small businesses, to university researchers with a view to encouraging collaboration opportunities. Initially, researchers and organisations meet in a speed date-style setting, exchanging research interests and ideas before applying for funding. Dr. Sarah Cooper, Director of Research in the School of Law, met both charities at such an event in July 2018, and the trio were subsequently awarded funding to host a workshop to instigate wider university participation, and ultimately assist the Youth Sport Trust and City Year UK to develop a ‘Call for Researchers.’

“The workshop has been all about starting a dialogue between researchers and the two community partners,” Dr Cooper said. “The purpose was to bring these people together to create a call for researchers, which would enable our partners to effectively communicate their research needs to a research audience. Having researchers here from all four corners of the University has made it a truly interdisciplinary event.” Dr Cooper believes that collaborating with organisations is crucial. “It is a very important part of the research that we do,” she said. “It’s refreshing for academics to work with community partners in order to enhance the impact that we can have with our research.”

Valuable academic support

City Year UK have worked with the University extensively, with several undergraduate students taking on mentoring roles with the charity. “When we found out about this research project we thought it would be a different angle to take,” said Jessica Rexworthy, City Year UK’s Recruitment and Strategic Partnerships Manager. “The University has a wealth of knowledge and academic base within it, so it’s important that universities are set up as those anchoring institutions that support charities and organisations. For us to have research expertise from the University is incredibly valuable.”

Youth Sport Trust met Dr Cooper and City Year UK at the initial CUPI event and felt there was a great opportunity for a joint collaboration. “It seemed like we could create a project around the subject of youth social action,” said Liz Jones, Head of Research and Insight at Youth Sport Trust. “The University has so much to offer – it has a wealth of expertise and an enormous audience of young people. It promises to be a brilliant partnership.”