Taking action on the world’s big challenges

In September 2019, the University launched Birmingham In Action, bringing together work from across the University to make a huge difference in so many people’s lives.

Three years on, alumni and friends around the world have supported more than 1,000 students through scholarships, mentored more than 4,000 students and recent graduates, and helped make possible many world-changing research projects, from finding better treatments for cancer to figuring out what the climate emergency truly means for our future – looking beyond the tipping point.

And you have shown your commitment to helping people affected by the world's new challenges; the pandemic, the cost-of-living crisis and the accelerating climate emergency.

Audio described version of 'Can big ideas still make a big difference?'

Just a few highlights of how you have helped others so far:

  • Huge breakthroughs in understanding, diagnosing and treating cancer, often funded by families with first-hand experience
  • Finding ways to help people with COVID-19 and ensuring students who lost their jobs in lock-down didn't have to drop-out
  • Hardship grants for students who could not have foreseen they would not be able to afford food in the cost-of-living crisis
  • Hundreds of scholarships for young people who have had a more difficult start in life, supported by thousands of alumni, friends and more
  • Funding dozens of PhD students, including researcher Anna Gardner, who spent up to 12 hours a day in the treetops to find out how our trees will be hit by climate change
  • A support programme and dedicated housing for students who are in recovery from addictions
  • Sector-focused scholarships for students with a career area in mind, funded by Goldman Sachs, Santander, Wesleyan and many more
  • Helping pupils prevent bullying, in a school pilot supported by HSBC UK

Aimee's story: what your support has meant to one research student

Aimee Humphreys says: 'I knew what I wanted to do from when I was ten years old. Mum's brain tumour was found at an early stage, which is probably a big part of why she is still here today, though it is likely to progress over time.

'Right now, doctors don't fully understand how brain tumours work, let alone what causes them, how to consistently spot them early or if we can prevent them. It can be really hard to get funding for innovative research in relatively rare conditions like this if you don't already have initial findings; it's a catch-22.'

There are so many students like Aimee, who have the passion and dedication to make the world better, but just need a little help to get started.

She says: 'When supporter Robert Spier lost his wife Jean to a brain tumour in 2017, he was looking for a way to help find better treatments for this type of cancer. He has generously funded several research students at the University of Birmingham. His support allows me and the PhD students I work with, Himani Rana and Rahatil Chowdhury, to try brand new approaches to brain tumours, and to bring my family's experience to the lab. It is hard work with long hours, but it is all worth it in memory of people like Jean and in support of people like my mum.'

Three ways you can help

  1. Make a gift; support one of the research programmes close to your heart or help a student follow in your footsteps. A regular gift could fund a student throughout each year of their studies, £4,500 could pay for a scholarship, or a gift in your will could support a PhD student's research.
  2. Share your expertise; become a mentor or offer an internship, giving students invaluable advice and experience.
  3. Spread the word: Did you benefit from a scholarship? Do you know someone who might benefit from our discoveries? Tell the world!