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Durham University

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Community work wins international acclaim

(17 May 2018)

Van Mildert College students

The community outreach and volunteering work undertaken by Durham University’s Van Mildert College has been recognised as among the best of any college or university anywhere in the world.

The College was among three further or higher education institutions shortlisted for the prestigious International Green Gown Award for Community.

Established in 2004, the Green Gown Awards recognise exceptional sustainability initiatives undertaken by colleges and universities.

Van Mildert College won the UK and Ireland honour in November 2017 and went forward to the worldwide award, held in Marseille, France, on Wednesday 16 May.

The award recognises the positive contribution the College makes to local communities through student-led outreach projects.

'Exceptional achievement'

Professor David Harper, Principal of Van Mildert College, said: “We are extremely proud to have been shortlisted for the International Green Gown Award for Community.

“To be recognised as among the best examples of outreach and volunteering in any college or university anywhere in the world is a truly exceptional achievement.

“It is a great credit to our students, who give over 6,000 hours of volunteering a year, and the College staff that support them. My congratulations to all involved.”

Extensive outreach work

Van Mildert College is one of Durham University’s 16 residential Colleges. A diverse community of over 1,500 students, staff and mentors based at Mill Hill Lane, Durham City, it operates six student-led outreach projects.

  • The Young Persons’ Project seeks to raise aspirations of Year 10 pupils in schools in North East England;
  • the Primary School Project provides County Durham schools with assistance in teaching and running after-school clubs;
  • the Carers Respite Committee supports families with children with physical or mental illnesses;
  • the Community Visiting Scheme involves students visiting and befriending elderly people;
  • the Secure Centre Mentoring Scheme sees students supporting the rehabilitation of young people in a secure centre; and
  • the Environmental Conservation Committee seeks to promote environmental awareness and education.

Partners include St Oswald’s Church, Durham City; Aycliffe Secure Centre, Newton Aycliffe, County Durham; and the County Durham Drug and Alcohol Service.

Judges of the International Green Gown Awards said of Van Mildert College's community work: “A great student-led project with volunteering and having an impact on younger people and the surrounding community.”

Anna Marsburg, a Van Mildert College student and Outreach Director at the College’s Junior Common Room, said: “Van Mildert College outreach has without doubt been the highlight of my four years at Durham. The opportunity to go to Marseille has been a truly wonderful experience.

“The Green Gown Awards have not only allowed us to celebrate the success of our projects and the incredible impact they have had upon the local community, but have also given us the chance to meet other like-minded student volunteers from all over the world.”

The International Green Gown Award for Community was won by the University of Tasmania, Australia.