A learning centre set up to help young people living in one of the UK’s most deprived neighbourhoods access further education, training and employment is celebrating its fifth anniversary.
IntoUniversity Leeds South, a partnership between the University of Leeds and national charity IntoUniversity, works with children, teenagers and young adults in Beeston and Holbeck, where poor educational outcomes mean that only 12% of young people go on to university.
IntoUniversity centres offer a welcoming home-from-home for young people: a safe space to learn, explore and succeed. Each local centre offers an innovative programme that supports young people aged seven and up to realise their ambitions, achieve their academic potential, develop vital skills and gain experience of the world of work.
With the support of The Asda Foundation and University of Leeds alumni, IntoUniversity Leeds South opened in 2015, with the aim of providing thousands more young people in Leeds with access to new opportunities and vital long-term support at an early age. Since it was opened, the centre has had a noticeable impact on young people in the area: over 3,900 young people aged seven to 18 have been supported there.
It was the second collaboration between the University of Leeds and IntoUniversity, after the success of IntoUniversity Leeds East, which opened in Harehills in 2014.
And in 2018, IntoUniversity Leeds Extension opened, which added capacity to both centres in Leeds, effectively creating the provision of a third IntoUniversity centre in the city.
As part of the partnership with the University of Leeds, over 5,000 IntoUniversity students have been on trips to the University to find out more about university life and learning. Over 300 mentoring pairs have met through the partnership, with University of Leeds students providing over 3,000 hours of support to IntoUniversity students.
A former IntoUniversity Leeds South student said:
“Without the opportunities IntoUniversity offered me, I wouldn’t have been able to get into medical school. The support that IntoUniversity gave me with applications and personal statements was incredible. I was able to get one-to-one help and I don’t know how I would have done it all by myself. IntoUniversity introduced me to so many different contacts and volunteers and I can honestly say that I’m no longer worried about applying to anything any more. It might be called IntoUniversity but it is not just about getting you to university; IntoUniversity has helped me develop skills that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.”
An event to celebrate the belated five-year anniversary, delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, was held this month with students and families, community supporters and supporters from the University.
Louise Banahene, Director of Educational Engagement at the University of Leeds, said:
“Our partnership with IntoUniversity is integral to our institutional strategic commitments to widening access and contributing to our local communities.
“It is a privilege to support our IntoUniversity centres including volunteering from our staff and students and to learn with the young people and families in Harehills and Beeston.”
Dr Rachel Carr, Chief Executive and Co-Founder of IntoUniversity, said:
“IntoUniversity is delighted to be celebrating the belated five-year anniversary of IntoUniversity Leeds South. From our local learning centres based at the heart of the communities we serve, we have worked with thousands of talented young people across the city of Leeds, supporting them to realise their ambitions and achieve their educational potential. We look forward to continuing our successful partnership with the University of Leeds in the years to come.”
This post is based on a press release issued by the University of Leeds
Photo: Back row (l-r): Ester, Louise Banahene, Geraldine Musajjakawa, Rachel Carr, Julia. Front row l-r): Naomi, Delina, Ayaan, Sem, Nayel. By Victor de Jesus