The University is committed to making a positive contribution to the city.
In November 2017, Edinburgh Local was launched, a University-wide initiative that aims to strengthen relationships between the University and local communities, put research and teaching at the service of local communities, and to open up access to University buildings and facilities to Edinburgh residents. The work of Edinburgh Local is supported by the Community Engagement Programme Board. This group provides leadership, risk management and prioritisation for the community engagement programme. Webpages under a ‘Local’ banner were developed and published in 2017.
Social impact pledge
The Principal and Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Mathieson has renewed the University’s commitment to the Social Impact Pledge for a second year running; a Scottish Government initiative aimed at increasing the social impact of public sector organisations across Scotland. As a result, more students will be trained to work with community groups to enhance digital literacy and support employability, in an extension of the University’s current Digital Ambassadors programme. The University also aims to increase the number of sustainable start-up social enterprises it generates.
The University is also supporting the establishment of a Centre for Homeless Health and Inclusion within the NHS Access Practice for Homeless People in Edinburgh’s city centre. Working with the NHS, the City of Edinburgh Council and other partners, the University will assist in building the capacity of the practice to support pathways out of homelessness.
The Edinburgh University Students’ Association supports nearly 300 student societies, with students created 29 brand new societies over the last year. Students have been encouraged to deliver businesses that benefits the local community, wider society and the natural environment through a pilot social enterprise service, run in partnership with LAUNCH.ed, supporting 12 student-led social enterprises.
Through the Volunteering Service at the Students’ Association, students have completed 11,689 hours of volunteering time. Over 500 societies have reported volunteering activities, giving back to local communities and working with external partners. Over 140 societies have engaged in fundraising activities, with 83 societies donating to external charities.
Community benefits through procurement
The University has a commitment to deliver impact for society and over the last year work has been undertaken to identify opportunities to provide benefits for local communities through the University’s procurement. A ‘Community Benefits through Procurement’ Policy was developed and published to provide advice on this.
A collaboration between the University’s Procurement Office and the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation secured an award of £50,000 from the European Union’s Climate Knowledge and Innovation Communities Programme. With the support of Zero Waste Scotland, the project has and will continue to support engagement with the University’s construction suppliers, developing business cases around data driven innovation-led projects on decarbonisation and the circular economy, delivering wider benefits to local communities.
Looking ahead, the University will look to maximise community benefit opportunities, including commitments to apprenticeships, work experience placements, student internships and links to the emerging Edinburgh City Region Deal.
Edinburgh Local Community Grants Scheme
The Edinburgh Local Community Grants Scheme supports the development of projects, community activities and sustainable local action. The aims of the scheme are to increase engagement between the University and local communities; have a positive social impact; and create learning opportunities (including informal and non-traditional forms of learning).
In 2017/18, the University awarded more than £90,000 to community-led projects. Examples include funding for Voice of Carers across Lothian (VOCAL) who will provide peer support, group training and supportive therapies to 50 Midlothian carers. North Edinburgh Arts Pop-In Community Café will use their grant to expand the café in order to support local people who are struggling to access employment.