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The University of Southampton

Hampshire universities join forces to help local communities thanks to £1 million cash boost

Published: 22 October 2007

The three universities based on Hampshire’s south coast are joining forces to improve the health and well-being of local communities across South Hampshire thanks to a £1million funding award from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE).

The South East Coastal Communities (SECC) Project will see the University of Southampton, Southampton Solent University and the University of Portsmouth work in collaboration with the knowledge and technology agency Solent Synergy and other local partners.

The project will utilise the expertise of specially-created university teams offering academic expertise and financial assistance to support the development of planned and existing health, well-being and social inclusion activities in the area’s priority neighbourhoods.

The teams will primarily work with community groups in Portsmouth and Southampton.

Dr Keith Johnson, Southampton Solent University's Pro Vice-Chancellor and Chair of the Hampshire project says: "This funding is great news for universities and other organisations committed to supporting their local communities – but most importantly for the communities themselves. By working in partnership we will be able to share our knowledge and contacts with local groups to enable them to improve the quality of life in their areas."

Leading the project from the University of Southampton will be Professor Debra Humphris, Director of the Health Care Innovation Unit (HCIU). Professor Humphris comments: "This project provides an exciting opportunity to put the ‘know how’ of universities to work for the benefit of local communities. I’m looking forward to working further with the two other Universities and colleagues in the Communities, Health and Care Directorate at Southampton City Council on our specific project."

David Arrell, Pro-Vice Chancellor at the University of Portsmouth, adds: "The University of Portsmouth’s contribution to the project will see our undergraduates coaching and mentoring young communities in the Havant area. With the support of Havant Borough Council and the Portsmouth and South East Hampshire Partnership, we will develop the entrepreneurial skills necessary to support the creation of a self-sustaining centre for youth-led social inclusion programmes."

Notes for editors

  • The South East Coastal Communities Project in Hampshire is part of a larger scheme that sees nine universities team up to address the regeneration needs of socially deprived areas in Kent, Sussex and Hampshire – a UK first in higher education. The £6 million project has been launched thanks to a £3 million match funding award from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE). The SECC Project in Hampshire will be run by the Universities of Portsmouth, Southampton and Southampton Solent. Solent Synergy Limited, a not-for-profit company jointly formed by SEEDA, the Universities of Portsmouth, Southampton Solent and Southampton, plus major private sector companies such as the VT Group plc, also plays a key role in the development of the SECC group and in the co-ordination of the Hampshire-based projects.
  • The drivers for the University of Portsmouth’s contribution to the South East Coastal Communities project are issues behind youth deprivation in South East Hampshire – high levels of youth crime, teenage pregnancies, poor health, truancy and disengagement with education and training. The University has a long and successful track record of developing entrepreneurial skill in young people – not just in undergraduates but also through outreach work in schools starting with children as young as six years old.
  • The University of Southampton’s project will help to develop individual budgeting for health and wellbeing services, focusing on developing sustainability through social enterprise model. This project will work with the Central and Thornhill communities in Southampton to support the development, sustainability, efficiency and effectiveness of a new form of ‘third sector’ organisation, aimed at enabling communities to develop their capacity to purchase/commission health and well being services. As the capacity within communities to manage care brokerage expands, the aim is to share good practice and promote self sustaining networks.
  • Southampton Solent University's project will focus on improving the delivery of health and well-being within the Thornhill area of the city. University staff will work in collaboration with a number of key agencies, community groups, local government and businesses, to identify and develop sustainable social enterprise to support existing and future health and well-being initiatives run by the local regeneration programme. The University is already working with Thornhill Plus You to safeguard future regeneration by developing and implementing a capacity-building training programme for its community members.
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