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Local charities get American help, thanks to Durham University

(3 August 2018)

Kevin Lu and Joyce Zhou at a Team Durham summer camp

Two local charities have benefitted from some American support, thanks to Durham University.

Changing Lives and the Waddington Street Centre welcomed student volunteers from Duke University, who were visiting the UK as part of Durham University’s partnership with Duke, which is based in Durham, North Carolina, USA.

Each year for the past six years, Duke students have visited Durham, UK, under the DukeEngage civic engagement programme, which offers Duke students opportunities to serve community partners locally in North Carolina, nationally in the USA and globally.

This year, six students spent four weeks in North East England.

Supporting vulnerable people

Harry Han and Sean Cho were based with national charity Changing Lives, who support 17,500 vulnerable people to build a better future each year, at one of their projects in Chester-le-Street.

Linda McKie, Project Lead for Changing Lives, said: “Changing Lives were delighted to have assistance from two American students in support of our work with people experiencing homelessness in our area.

“Harry and Sean attended our outreach session with people sleeping rough, making contact with vulnerable individuals and signposting them to support that could help them off the street. It is wonderful when young people want to get involved in charity work and help others, and we hope Harry and Sean have learnt from the experience and enjoyed it.”

'Warm-hearted people'

Alex Heap spent time at the Waddington Street Centre, an independent mental health resource centre in Durham City.

Alex said: “Most Americans think of the British as posh, proper and somewhat uptight people. This is not true of Northern England. The people of Durham are straight-talking, strong-willed, and very warm-hearted.”

Additionally, at Durham County Council’s International Office Alice Liao undertook research into how participation in overseas education programmes can improve the employment prospects of local young people; and Kevin Lu and Joyce Zhou supported the University’s Team Durham adult outreach with hard-to-reach groups and helped to run a summer camp for local children.

Joyce, an 18-year-old Economics student at Duke, said: “It’s been really fun, especially working with the kids.”

Neil Hoefs, Coordinator of DukeEngage Durham 2018, said: “Part of DukeEngage’s mission is to empower students to address critical human needs. This summer, our Duke students had the opportunity to partner with organisations that are truly making a difference in Durham, North Carolina, and our sister city of Durham, UK.”

The Duke students also visited Durham CathedralDurham CastleBeamish: The Living Museum of the NorthKillhope – The North of England Lead Mining Museum, the Durham Miners’ Association and Raby Castle, and attended the 134th Durham Miners’ Gala.

They also met leaders of Durham University, Councillor John Lethbridge, the Mayor of Durham, and representatives of Business Durham.

The students will return to the USA on Saturday 4 August.

Global reputation, local benefits

Owen Adams, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Colleges and Student Experience) at Durham University, said: “Our support for the DukeEngage programme shows how Durham being a global university with a world-class reputation has real benefits locally.

“It has been a pleasure having Duke students to Durham and we look forward to welcoming more in summer 2019.”

Cllr Lethbridge said: “It was a pleasure to spend time with these young people from the American Durham and I’m pleased that they were able to see Killhope and so much more of what our county has to offer.

“It was great that the students were able to meet representatives from Business Durham and I know the team in our International Office really enjoyed assisting Alice.”