One year ago, Birmingham resolved to make an even bigger difference in the world. Birmingham In Action draws together the expertise and passions of researchers, alumni, students and supporters to tackle some of the world's greatest challenges: education, cancer, youth mental health, protecting the environment and helping refugees.
The pandemic has made this work even more important. Young people have spent months unable to enter a classroom. Grief, fear and isolation have affected our mental health. Masks and plastic protection are adding to waste in landfills and rivers. Cancer patients have had their treatments delayed. Refugees living in tents have been unable to social distance.
COVID-19 won't stop us helping others. This year alone, 9,286 supporters made a gift and 3,689 volunteered their time. Together, as a force for change, we can turn research into life-changing solutions and ensure young people are not held back by their circumstances.
When the world faced a new challenge, we drew on our expertise in previous epidemics (including Ebola and Zika) to create real solutions quickly. We worked together to develop virus tests, make PPE, identify new drugs and help students facing unexpected hardship.
Thank you to the more than 400 supporters whose generosity is helping develop better virus tests and preventing students who have lost their part-time jobs from having to drop out. Find out more about Birmingham In This Together.
One year on: What have you helped achieve?
Bright Minds In Birmingham
A record number of 650+ students (many of whom are the first in their family to go to university) were supported to join the University in 2020, through online summer schools, taster lectures, mentors, Access to Birmingham (A2B) scholarships and more.
Students who want to study engineering and physical sciences, but who have been disadvantaged in their education so far can now get dedicated support; money for accommodation, help towards living costs and no tuition fees. Applications are open for the first students.
Birmingham In Cancer Wards
The Tessa Jowell BRAIN MATRIX trials are now live. The trials are named in honour of the late Baroness Tessa Jowell, who bravely shared her diagnosis of a brain tumour on her 70th birthday. This first-of-its-kind clinical trial platform will enable researchers to provide patients and clinicians with a fully integrated diagnosis of their disease. The platform ultimately aims to improve both survival and quality of life.
Birmingham In Mind
We have been working with local schools to prevent bullying, one of the root causes of mental health issues for young people. Teachers were trained to deliver KiVa, a research-based anti-bullying programme, before the pandemic closed schools. We are collaborating with schools across the city to examine trauma and bullying during this period, to support teachers and parents and guide the return to school. While waiting for schools to reopen, the team has been providing psychological support for frontline doctors and nurses treating patients acutely affected by COVID-19.
Birmingham In Our Environment
We discovered new ways in which trees are protecting us from climate change. Trees less than 140 years old account for half the absorption of carbon in young forests, and we have recommended six specific policy interventions where introducing vegetation in towns and cities can help reduce urban air pollution.
To understand the levels of plastic pollution in our rivers, we collected water samples from around the world, which we will analyse and compare.
Birmingham In Solidarity
We are making practical recommendations for how communities can help refugees, including improving language training, facilitating economic activity, building social connections and ensuring access to family reunions. Watch Professor Jenny Phillimore introduce the report above.
Three ways you can join in
DONATE: A regular gift supports students throughout their studies or helps our researchers find solutions for the world's big challenges.
GIVE TIME: Become a mentor or offer a (virtual) internship to help students get vital experience, or share your expertise with our researchers.
SPREAD THE WORD: Tell us what education or research means to you, by email or on social media, using the hashtag #BirminghamAction