From education to employment

Welsh universities are helping to tackle poverty in communities across Wales

2 adults sat with child

Wales’ universities play a vital role in tackling poverty in communities across the country. This is the message of an event being held in the Senedd today to highlight the important work that Welsh universities are doing in and with their communities.

Welsh universities bring significant economic benefits to the whole of Wales – generating over £5 billion per year for the economy and one in 20 jobs across the country. However, they also have a significant impact on a local scale, working hands-on to meet the specific needs of the communities they serve.

Convened by the Universities Wales Civic Mission Network, today’s event showcases the work Welsh universities are doing to help alleviate poverty of different kinds – from tackling health inequalities and food poverty, to working with disadvantaged groups to improve access to culture and the arts.

Two years on from the launch of the Civic Mission Framework for Wales in 2021, the event demonstrates how civic mission activity has continued to develop across Wales over the past two years, with universities collaborating with partners to deliver against the goals of the Well-being of Future Generations Act.  

Chair of the Universities Wales Civic Mission Network, Lynnette Thomas, said:

“Our universities have an important role to play in communities across Wales, beyond their traditional remit of learning, teaching and research.

“Poverty is an increasingly urgent challenge facing the people and places of Wales. By working in partnership with communities, businesses and other agencies, universities are having a significant impact in this area, finding innovative solutions to challenges and making a tangible difference to people’s lives right across the country.

“Today’s event shows what can be achieved through collaboration and creative thinking, and I look forward to seeing what more we can achieve when we work together.”

Jeremy Miles MS, Minister for Education and Welsh Language, said:

“While there is always more to do, I am proud that Wales’s higher education sector is leading the way with our Civic Mission Framework.

“Universities and higher education institutions have a critical role to play in addressing poverty, as they have unique resources and capabilities that can make a significant impact. It’s excellent to see the sector’s commitment to this.

“The Commission for Tertiary Education and Research will encourage institutions to reach beyond the campus and ensure this good practice continues, develops and grow in importance over time.”

One of the projects showcased at today’s event sees the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama (RWCMD) engaging with communities who have historically experienced poverty of access to cultural provision. The College supports access to cultural activity, while tackling poverty, through the Tempo Time Credit network, which exchanges volunteering time for Time Credits to spend on tickets for shows.

One group to benefit from this civic collaboration is Windrush Elders Cymru – many of whom would find the physical cost of tickets a barrier – who have used Time Credits to access a range of performances including opera, drama and classical music.

Speaking about the project, the group said:

“Since coming to RWCMD we have had the wonderful ability to earn Tempo Time Credits through volunteering our time to support our group, The RCC Windrush Cymru Elders. This has opened up the possibility to use credits as reward payments for different things such theatre shows or going to leisure centres. At RWCMD we have seen Abel Selaocoe the jazz cello player twice. We thought both performances were astounding and loved every minute – being able to attend these performances and to be included with Abel’s audience participation was so lovely.”

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