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Durham University

University and City: Growing together

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Working together to benefit Durham

(26 April 2019)

Professor Stuart Corbridge, our Vice-Chancellor, writes on how we're working with Durham Area Action Partnership (AAP) for the benefit of the City we share. 

I’d like to start this column by sending rather unusual birthday wishes: to Durham Area Action Partnership (AAP).

It’s now ten years since Durham County Council formed 14 AAPs around the County. If you haven’t come across them, they aim to help people and organisations work together to take action on local issues.

A decade of success

As Durham AAP hits double figures, I thought it would be a good time to look back at its achievements.

At the University, we’ve been a supporter of the AAP from the early days. We chaired the group in 2011 and we’ve continued to be closely involved ever since, now primarily through our Community Liaison Officer, Hannah Shepherd.

I’m pleased to say our academic expertise has often been of use to the AAP’s work. Way back at the start, our Centre for Social Justice and Community Action researched the needs of local community groups. Their findings then informed the AAP’s support for these groups.

Later, Prof Fred Robinson and Ian Zass-Ogilvie at St Chad’s College worked with the Council to help community groups take over running their local community centres. Examples here in Durham included Framwellgate Moor and Quarrington Hill.

AAP funding has also helped some of the projects we run for the benefit of local communities.

Extra funding for the Active Steps to Recovery programme, which is also backed by the police and Changing Lives, has helped more adults in recovery through physical exercise, including boxing.

In 2014, funding linked to the Palace Green Library ROBOT exhibition paid towards very popular robot-building workshops for local children.

The AAP has also supported our students to organise fun days out for children with limited social opportunities and introduce primary school age children to the world of classical music.

Working together across economic development, research, culture and heritage, and place

Of course, our work with the Council goes way beyond the AAP. Our Memorandum of Understanding commits us to working together for the good of County Durham across the priority areas of economic development, research, culture and heritage, and place.

Right now, we’re working closely on the Powered by People initiative to attract new businesses and industry to the County; tackling our energy challenges; cultural events such as Lumiere, the Durham City Run and Velo North; and reducing our impact on the environment by cutting back on single use plastics.

We won’t all agree on how best to improve our locality, but we do all share the same goals. As Durham’s university we want to work with our neighbours to make our City and County the best possible place to live, work, visit and study.

So, happy birthday to Durham AAP: may there be many more successes to come. 

This article was first published in the Durham Advertiser.