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Sir David Watson Award: Winner Announced

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A project tailoring university research to the needs of a community is to be the first recipient of a new international award, hosted by the University of Brighton.

The award, launched this year in memory of the University of Brighton’s former Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir David Watson, recognises the combined efforts of community and university partners towards making a difference in the lives of people in their shared community.

The winning project, Cardiff University’s Community Gateway, works with residents and local organisations to help make the city’s Grangetown district an even better place to live and work by developing world class research, teaching and volunteering opportunities which respond to residents’ ideas.

The inaugural Professor Sir David Watson Award for Community-University Partnerships will be presented at The National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement’s Engage conference in Bristol on 7 December.  The NCCPE are part of the Founding Group which has established this award.

Professor Debra Humphris, University of Brighton Vice-Chancellor, said: “The quality of submissions for the award was exceptional and I congratulate all those who entered. It is heartwarming to see the growth in university-community partnerships.

“Community Gateway is a fantastic project and a worthy recipient of the award. Its aims dovetail perfectly with Sir David’s ethos of universities working with communities to improve people’s lives.”

Sir David, who died in 2015, created the University of Brighton’s award-winning Community University Partnership Programme CUPP which has supported scores of partnership projects over the past 12 years. Each year hundreds of academics, students and community partners work together to produce benefits for the community whilst enriching teaching and research. CUPP now supports other universities in the UK and across the world to develop similar initiatives in their own contexts.

Professor Colin Riordan, Cardiff University Vice-Chancellor, said: “It’s a great honour for Community Gateway to be the inaugural winner of an international award created in memory of Professor Sir David Watson, who was so dedicated to working hand-in-hand with communities for the good of all.

“Community Gateway has been driven by the passion of staff at Cardiff University who believe that good things happen when we listen to what people in our communities want from us.

“We at Cardiff University are committed to our ‘civic mission’ of promoting social cohesion and helping to improve levels of health, wealth and well-being in the communities, and work together with them to achieve their aims.”

Cardiff’s Community Gateway teamed up with community partners Grangetown Community Action and the Grange Pavilion project to build a long-term partnership with the residents of Grangetown. 

Over the past three years the platform has launched 44 community-university projects, brokering connections between Cardiff University staff, students and Grangetown residents to help bring community-led ideas to life. Projects have included the award-winning Grangetown Youth Forum, a regular Grangetown Business Forum which led to the launch of Grangetown’s first World Street Market, a Run Grangetown running group, an annual mental health day, arts therapy programmes, a Citizen Scientists programme, Grangetown Safety Week, and the renovation of a vacant Bowls Pavilion including the launch of the locally-run Hideout Café with regular philosophy café sessions.

The Professor Sir David Watson award scheme, the first of its kind, attracted entries from around the UK and from countries abroad, including Pakistan and Canada.

The scheme is supported by an international group of networks and leaders in the field including the Talloires Network, a global network of community-engaged universities that Sir David helped to build and lead, and Drs Budd Hall and Rajesh Tandon, the UNESCO co-chairs for Community Based Research. Sponsors also include the University of Winchester and Engagement Australia which helps develop best practice university-community engagement in Australia.

Individual donors to the award fund selected the winning application and the University of Brighton will be re-running the award in future years. To donate to the award fund, go to: Just giving David Watson Award

For more information on the Community Gateway, go to: http://www.cardiff.ac.uk/community-gateway

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