Students at a Birmingham university – being supported by an innovative scholarship programme – are giving back to local communities.
The Lloyds Scholars Scheme at the University of Birmingham (in partnership with Lloyds Banking Group) offers undergraduate students from lower household income backgrounds a complete package of support including:
- financial support
- paid internships
- and the opportunity to develop employability skills.
In return, students commit to carrying out 100 hours of voluntary community work each year of their degree.
Sports Science student Kira Swannell (21), from Redditch, is a member of the Community Challenge society, a group run by other students on the Lloyds Scholars programme that arranges a variety of one-off volunteering events throughout Birmingham, supporting groups from the homeless to the elderly, which served to inspire her own activities.
Kira and 10 other students visit Balaam Wood School in Frankley for Wellbeing Wednesdays – running a variety of activities that pupils at the school may not normally have the opportunity to take part in. Activities for the 7 to 11 year olds include sport, art, fashion and music, as well as tutoring for older pupils.
Through Wellbeing Wednesdays, Kira and her team help young people build their confidence, pursue their hobbies, and learn new skills in a fun and enjoyable way.
Kira said: “Most of the pupils we work with don’t have a lot of opportunities, even simple stuff like extracurricular activities. With our volunteering, we try to arrange events that let these kids have fun and learn a lot.”
Tutoring also gives the older students the support they need to pass their exams and build on their opportunities. When Kira first began tutoring maths as part of the project, many of the pupils struggled, getting many answers wrong. Seeing them progress, and watching them score high marks across the board in a practice test at the end of term, was one of Kira’s high points from the year.
Keen to work with children after leaving university, Kira’s volunteering has also had practical benefits for her own future. She believes the programme has improved her communication skills and her leadership, enabling her to interact with people of all ages, keeping them engaged whilst imparting knowledge at the same time.
University Scholarship Co-ordinator Jessica Cooper said: “The Lloyds Scholars programme plays an invaluable role in supporting the retention, achievement, and effective progression into graduate employment of talented university students from low income backgrounds. Supporting talented undergraduates like Kira is an important part of our work and I am thrilled that she has gained so much from it.”
Applications for the Lloyds Scholar Scheme at the University of Birmingham are being accepted until 25th May 2018. More information