Charities challenge students to support social justice

Big-hearted University of Dundee students can transform the lives of some of the city’s most disadvantaged people, the leader of a local charity has said.

Helen Hampton, a Senior Young People’s Support Worker with the Dundee and Angus branch of the Women’s Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre (WRASAC), is urging students to sign up for the University’s Social Justice Challenge.

The event will match groups of students with local charities and community groups, prompting them to use their academic skills to develop solutions to day-to-day problems faced by their paired organisation.

Dozens of students from across the academic spectrum are being sought for the challenge, with sign up taking place from December. Working in their groups, students will be set a task by their allocated charity or community group, and will have five weeks to work together to develop a solution.

With WRASAC one of the charities teaming up with the University for the event, Helen, who is involved with its Dundee and Angus Young Survivors Project, said, “We work with young people who have experienced trauma and this can result in complex effects for the rest of a person’s life.

“Agencies like ours desperately wish to provide support in a variety of ways so that we can ensure that our help reaches the most marginalised young people, but it is really demanding. We don’t seem to have the time or the resources required.

“But we know there must be some imaginative ways to get help to young people where, when and how they need it and we would welcome the help that students, with their variety of experiences and knowledge, can bring. Imagine the difference we could make to one young person if our support could reach them in a way which suits them best?”

Recruitment for the event takes place in December, with the challenge itself to begin at the end of January. Lasting for five weeks, each team will be provided with a mentor, though students will be expected to work autonomously in their efforts to meet the brief set by their designated community organisation. Groups will then come together once a week to provide progress reports on their efforts.

Regan Shaw, from the University’s School of Education and Social Work, said that the challenge will provide participants with valuable real-world experience.

She said, “We’re looking for students that want to address some of the inequalities they see in day-to-day life, real issues that face charities and groups in our community. By putting students from different academic schools together, they will use their combination of knowledge and skills to develop innovative solutions to the problems faced by these organisations.

“We’re not asking our students to solve the impossible, but we do want to challenge them to think about solutions that might work towards improving the lives of people in our community.”

Sign up forms will be available via the University’s Blackboard portal or by email from December 1st.

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