Birmingham In Action: Tackling five global challenges
More than half a million people around the globe came together as a force for change in October, for the launch of the University’s new volunteering and fundraising campaign, Birmingham In Action.
Birmingham In Action aims to help tackle five of the biggest challenges facing society, through our revolutionary research and by giving more young people the chance to fulfil their potential through education.
Alumni, students and staff are volunteering their expertise and making gifts to support the programme they care about most.
A global campaign: Birmingham, London, Hong Kong, New York and San Francisco
Five ways you can help change the world
Scroll through the five challenges below to see which one you care most about, and share it online using the hashtag #BirminghamAction
Bright Minds in Birmingham
The challenge: Many young people who have the potential and desire to succeed at university are held back by a web of circumstances, from finances and caring responsibilities at home, to lack of confidence and role models.
Taking action: We are reaching young people with potential as early as possible. The ground breaking Access to Birmingham (A2B) programme supports those who have little or no experience of higher education – helping them apply and supporting them financially once they are here.
Supporter Alan Hutchinson says; ‘I cared for my wife Sarah Hawkins for five years until she died in 2014; as an adult it was a huge strain and a grievous responsibility. But think of the pressure on a child or young person. I approached the University of Birmingham with the idea of founding scholarships to help young student carers manage their way financially through university. Most of the Sarah Hawkins scholars to date are studying to be doctors, nurses and social workers - they are determined to "give back".’
The challenge: One in two people in the UK will get cancer in their lifetimes. Two things make a huge difference; finding it early and matching the right treatment to the individual – a lifesaver for one patient could be useless for another.
Taking action: We are looking for the genetic indicators that could catch cancer earlier, testing treatments on mini-tumours to find the right match for the individual and aiming to get more patients into clinical trials.
Supporter Robert Spier (BA Commerce, 1958) says; ‘I’m supporting brain cancer research at the University of Birmingham because I want my donation to go directly to specific frontline research. I want to be part of finding better treatments for the type of cancer which my wife Jean died from in 2017.’
The challenge: The rapid rise in carbon dioxide threatens our air and ability to grow food, and we consume microplastics in our food and water every day.
Taking action: Our researchers are investigating climate change through a unique ‘lab in the woods’ and addressing plastics entering our oceans and food chain by catching it in rivers.
'Our models already suggest that rivers hold a thousand times more plastic than the seas. We're getting more and more aware of the problems this is causing in our oceans, but we are now only starting to look at where these plastics are coming from and what harm they are causing in rivers,' says Professor Stefan Krause.
The challenge: If we can support young people early with their mental health, we could prevent decades of illness and enable those young people to live a satisfying and productive life.
Taking action: Our researchers are working directly with young people and the NHS to understand what is causing an epidemic in mental health needs, what treatments are most effective in what circumstances and how to create a society that supports people with mental health challenges.
'When I told my GP that I was pretty sure I had anxiety, it was overlooked. It's easy to diagnose a broken leg, but not something going on in your head. One thing that can be done to tackle that is to involve young people in the research,’ says a member of the Institute for Mental Health’s Youth Advisory Group.
Find out more about how we are tackling bullying, a root cause of mental health challenges.
Birmingham In Solidarity
The challenge: Every two seconds another person has to leave their home to escape war, violence or persecution. Many communities throughout the UK are determined to offer a warm welcome, but they may not have the broad range of knowledge and skills needed to offer the type of help refugees need.
Taking action: Your support can help our academics understand the challenges traumatised families face, and give community groups the knowledge they need to help them find healthcare, education and employment.
Tony Langham (BA Medieval and Modern History, 1982) and Clare Parsons, co-founders of leading reputation management and public relations firm, Lansons, say, ‘The moment we heard about the work of the migration studies team, we were hooked, as protecting people from further violence as they flee from war and persecution at home is such important work. We have made a gift to support this vital work because now is the time for the UK to show how it can help make the world a better place. As the research progresses, we will be working with our friends and networks to help spread the word and increase its impact.’
Download your ‘I CARE ABOUT’ board, find out what your community cares about, and read about the Campaign Makers who are giving their time to support others.
The difference universities make in the world
At Birmingham, our experts are working every day to turn research into action, and expand the opportunity to learn even further, to those who need it most. Universities are where many of the great changes in the world are born; where we create new solutions to the world’s problems, and share knowledge with the next generation.
Every donation of time or money makes a difference
Join Birmingham In Action to help tackle our world’s big challenges and transform lives for our generation and the next. 100% of your gift goes directly to support students or research.