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DMU launches new range of community work and projects in Thurnby Lodge

Locals from a "forgotten estate" in Leicester have said how excited they are to be working with De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) to help revitalise the area.

The university has launched the newest chapter in its Square Mile project, which works to put the skills, experience and talent on campus to good use in the community - this time in the Thurnby Lodge area of the city.

Thurnby (1)

Dozens of DMU students have, for the past few weeks, been visiting the area and talking with residents, finding out what services and projects they would like to see created.

From this initial consultation a programme has been put together and - working with key partners like Thurnby Rangers football club and the popular Boyzee youth club - the university launched its newest community initiative with an event at the football club's ground.

Professor Dominic Shellard, DMU's Vice-Chancellor said: "We decided to run our second Square Mile project in Thurnby because it is an area which has historically been overlooked but which has a very strong community spirit.

"Working well with the community is about consulting, ensuring that local residents are supportive of initiatives and empowering them to come up with suggestions of their own."

Thurnby (2)

Also at the launch event was local councillor Teresa Aldred, who said she felt working with DMU, Thurnby Lodge would "no longer be a forgotten estate."

As part of the initiative, DMU offered £250 seed funding to residents who came forward with an application for a new community project.

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Seven winners of the funding were chosen and at the launch event, presented with a certificate and their prize.

Among those winners was Graham Cornish, who runs local Thurnby Lodge youth club, the Boyzee.

He said: "I would like to see the youth facilities back to what they were and give the young people of this area some positive incentives.

"Partnering with DMU will have an impact very quickly. The energy and vibrance that will come from the university will be exciting and I'd love to be able to help students get real world experience of youth work."

Thurnby (3)

Other winning projects included the creation of a community radio station, a project which using miniature scale gardening to improve mental health, a children's play group and a social group.

Over the next few weeks, the Thurnby Lodge work will see students and staff from DMU help offer a variety of services and work with locals to create new community facilities.

These include:

  • Working with Thurnby Rangers to develop its youth teams via FA Level One Coaching Courses for managers
  • Starting a Saturday art club for children
  • Supporting a Master's student in DMU's Institute of Energy and Sustainable Development to improve energy efficiency in the Boyzee youth club
  • Running drop-in diabetes screening sessions in the community centre
  • Free hearing tests from Audiology students and academics
  • A walking football sessions for older residents
  • Support for individuals and families dealing with cancer through DMU's Macmillan Support volunteers

Fern Johnson, a Youth Work and Community Development student at DMU, has been working in Thurnby Lodge as part of the projects initial consultation.

She said: "Voluntary work like this really appeals to me. So far we have been around the area, going into the community centre and the school, talking to people, finding out what people wanted DMU to provide.

"People have been really receptive and they are really keen to talk to you when they realise that you are here to make a positive improvement in the community."

Posted on Wednesday 11th October 2017

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