May 19, 2014, by Jacqui Storey
Cornering the Community at May Fest
The University’s annual community open day, May Fest, took place on 10th May and proved again that there really are only two certainties in life –that the Chemistry Thunder and Lightning lecture will sell out and that it will rain at May Fest. Thankfully the forecast was a little off track for those of us in ‘Community Corner’, situated in the notoriously leaky Atrium in the Portland Building and we managed to keep dry all day.
Community Corner is a recent introduction to May Fest and this year hosted 14 local voluntary and community sector organisations which all have a connection with the University. Their presence at a University event is two-fold. Firstly it gives them an opportunity to meet with some of the estimated 5,000 visitors to May Fest, publicise the work they do and recruit new volunteers. The second aim is to showcase the collaborations between the University and the sector. To help with the latter, two students joined me on the Community Partnerships stall to talk about their volunteering. They were able to tell visitors how much they had benefitted from the opportunity to apply their academic knowledge in a community setting.
Lauren Cheng hopes to work in the community as a dietitian once she graduates and she volunteered with Hope Nottingham on a project related to its food bank. Computer Science student Dipo Areoye who hopes to be an IT Consultant worked with Double Impact on a project that helped the organisation tackle issues with its membership database. It was clear from the visitors we spoke to that they could see what a valuable contribution our students make to the community but also what excellent experience organisations are able to offer in return.
May Fest and Community Corner have come a long way since the inaugural event in 2009 which started out as a modest ‘Day of Exploration’, attracting around 1,500 people and a handful of community groups. The idea originated in the Community Partnerships team and the fact it has gone on to be embraced as a major event in the University calendar is testament to that vision over six years ago. Our community partners would seem to agree judging by the feedback we received “It was a great day and thanks for letting us be a part of it.”
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