Students from Dearne Valley College (part of the RNN Group) have recently been involved in the pilot #IWill youth social action project, a match-fund created by the Pears Foundation, the National Lottery Community Fund and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. The project saw the College offer opportunities for its students to engage in inclusive social action projects for young people.
The two-year project saw Dearne Valley College, as well as the other colleges in the Group – Rotherham College and North Notts College – selected as one of five institutions from the Association of Colleges (AoC) to pilot new approaches, and successfully embed a sustainable approach, to youth social action.
In total, the Group saw almost 1,000 students and staff engage in projects that helped 2,000 members of its local communities in South Yorkshire and North Nottinghamshire.
Students from the College were able to develop their communication, problem-solving and teamwork skills as well as raising their understanding of a variety of social issues through researching issues in their local communities, identifying social barriers or topics which they felt passionate about addressing and acting to help raise awareness.
The College also created a social action Google site that is dedicated to promoting internal projects, partner organisations and provides more opportunities for staff and students to learn about the challenges faced in their local communities.
RNN Group’s Senior Quality and Learner Experience Coordinator, Andrea Chattaway, coordinated staff and student involvement in a wide variety of social action projects.
Andrea said: “Our staff and student awareness of social action has never been so high, and engagement grew exponentially during the pilot. Since the start of the project, we have been able to embed social action projects in our culture and ethos, throughout all of our curriculum areas and across our range of enrichment activities.
“Our aim is for social action to be student-led, and encourage our students to identify issues that they are passionate about in their local communities. We have been involved in so many incredibly worthwhile projects from luncheon clubs to befriending services to help combat loneliness in older people, and even taking part in a local charity’s Christmas Appeal video.
“As well as giving back to local communities, our involvement in social action projects has been incredibly rewarding for our students. Not only are they playing an active role in the local community, but some of the experiences will allow them to stand out on applications for higher education or job applications.
“I can’t wait to see what projects our staff and students choose to support next!”