Three leading principals are urging colleges around the country to join them in a new initiative to help staff connect with their local communities and collectively generate £1m of social value.
Sam Parrett (London South East Colleges), Jo Maher (Loughborough College) and Stuart Rimmer (East Coast College) are today launching the Good for ME Good for FE campaign, which they hope will create a sustainable programme of community action across the UK, while helping to support the mental health and wellbeing of staff*.
The collaborative effort will build on the huge success of FE Foodbank Friday. This was a national campaign spearheaded by London South East Colleges and supported by over 30 other colleges around the country during the pandemic. Over £47,000 was raised and 20,000 food items were collected for local foodbanks.
The three strands of this new initiative will be:
The continuation of FE Foodbank Friday: As the impact of the pandemic continues to be felt, demand for foodbanks continues to increase so we are keen to continue collecting donations to support local communities.
Encouraging volunteering activity within and outside each college community, harnessing the huge amount of work already being undertaken by staff for good causes and encouraging others to get involved. There is a strong link between volunteering and improved mental health* – a current key priority for colleges and their staff.
Developing corporate and charitable partnerships to help sustain a longer term vision and impact.
The impact of the campaign will be measured in monetary terms via London South East Colleges’ social value calculator. This system has been developed using the National TOMS framework, independently verified by the Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES) and the Social Value Portal.
Other key performance indicators, including the number of food items and the amount of volunteering hours, are being developed to ensure the full impact can be captured.
Group Principal and CEO at London South East Colleges, Dr Sam Parrett CBE, says:“We know what an important role colleges play in their communities as genuine Anchor Institutions. Our staff are highly committed to supporting other people and we want to encourage and mobilise this incredible community spirit across our college group and indeed the wider sector.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has been a challenging time for many people but we have also seen a revitalised sense of community spirit and purpose. Generating social value will be key to economic recovery going forward and I’m confident that our ambitious £1m target is achievable.
“Helping others is proven to improve an individual’s mental health and wellbeing*. These are also things which have suffered during the pandemic and we are keen to support our staff with.
“I’m delighted to be working with two other colleges to get this campaign launched and am hopeful many others will join us – which will benefit local communities all over the UK.”
CEO of East Coast College, Stuart Rimmer MBE, adds:“Research points directly to benefits for staff and students volunteering. Reduction is stress, preventing feelings of isolation, increasing confidence and providing a deeper sense of purpose and meaning through service.
“This is important at a time when individual and community wellbeing is of utmost priority. Lock down has shown us that people are designed to be in communities.
“Coming together to help others is hugely beneficial for everyone. Colleges give thousands of hours every year in fundraising, volunteering and community engagement.
“It’s brilliant that this new initiative can recognise this but more importantly help connect the local with the national to help us all do a little bit more.”
Jo Maher, Principal and CEO at Loughborough College, adds:“Community action and being an anchor institution are at the heart of what colleges do in our work to develop social mobility, change lives, and create opportunities for people to progress in their careers.
“Covid-19 demonstrated the collective power of further education in going the extra mile to help support communities and the FE Foodbank Friday campaign was a shining example of this.
“By creating a sustainable initiative centred around volunteering, that achieves more holistic outcomes, we are confident that we can hit the £1m target and support positive action towards health and wellbeing.”
Over the coming weeks, Good for Me Good for FE activity will be rolled out across the three colleges, with other colleges encouraged to sign up and join the activity.