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Buckinghamshire New University joins UK universities in climate action campaign

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Buckinghamshire New University has joined a national campaign showcasing the vital action UK universities are taking to combat climate change and why higher education is pivotal in producing the next generation of climate protectors.

Today’s announcement follows new research from Universities UK that shows just four-in-ten parents of 16-18-year-olds in the South East believe that UK universities are equipping the next generation of students with knowledge about climate change.

Nearly half of parents (49%) in the region recognise that universities are researching solutions to climate change, while nearly two-in-three (65%) think a university degree is essential for those contemplating a career in tackling climate change. Nearly one-in-three (31%) adults would consider higher education to upskill to realign their career to combat the climate emergency.

The new campaign is backed by actress and environmentalist Lily Cole, who is supporting universities in their commitment to tackling the climate emergency through researching solutions, working with local communities, and equipping students and the public with much-needed climate literacy. 

BNU’s Give to Refresh campaign recognised

One of the initiatives featuring in the campaign is BNU’s Give to Refresh, a collaboration with the national Beauty Banks (BB) charity to help local people living in hygiene poverty by bringing together residents, retailers, businesses and politicians in a campaign spearheaded with local media.

A public BB donation point was set up on the University’s campuses with more than 1,000 items collected prior to 2020 COVID-19 lockdowns. The donations to local foodbank One Can Trust supplemented the charity’s food packages to Wycombe’s most-in-need families as more households entered the hidden and growing epidemic of hygiene poverty during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.

By working with major retailers, nearby schools and local media, BNU was able to raise awareness of a type of poverty, which sadly leads to the bullying of young people, that is often neglected before both energy and food poverty. The initiative also saved  families money that could be put to these other necessities.

The dual benefit of this campaign also helped to prevent the items and substances from being thrown away unnecessarily, reducing further damage to the environment. The Give to Refresh campaign was part of embedding a sustainable culture at BNU, which also includes the Bucks New Usage upcycling scheme donating clothing and household items to their students, the YMCA and Wycombe Food Hub.

Give to Refresh is just one of many actions the University and Bucks SU has taken in recent years to combat climate change as part of its wider corporate social responsibility activities which led to retention of its Gold CSR Accreditation award in January.

Louise Harvey, Head of Communications at BNU, said:

“I’m very proud that BNU was the first university community in London and the south – and only the second in the UK – to set up a public Beauty Banks donation point which enabled local residents and businesses to play their part in tackling hygiene poverty. It was great to join forces with Beauty Banks and know the huge difference that the hundreds of donations from our students, colleagues and local residents made to people living in hygiene poverty.”

Professor Steve West CBE, President, Universities UK, said:

“We need urgent and ambitious climate solutions and must ensure future generations are given the chance to build the careers they need to tackle this emergency head on. Universities are crucial to this. A university education can make all the difference in equipping students with the knowledge and skills to help them to make a positive impact on the planet, whatever path they choose.

“Evidence shows that universities are centre-stage in the UK’s climate action efforts, from researching bold and innovative solutions, to mobilising businesses and local communities in ways that benefit us all. As a sector we can do even more to ensure the public hear this vital message, and that is what this campaign is all about.”

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