What is the Foundation?
The Leeds for Life Foundation helps students to make the most of their time at University. If you have an idea for a project that fits the spirit of Leeds for Life and will develop your skills, the Leeds for Life Foundation could help with a cash grant to make it happen.
With joint funding from the Alumni Annual Fund, the Santander Group, friends and alumni of the University, the Foundation has been set up to help fund projects that reflect the enthusiasm, creativity and initiative of our students to seek out new challenges, to experience new environments and cultures, and to make a positive difference to the lives of other people. The Foundation would especially welcome applications from students initiating new projects.
There are six strands of funding and details of how to apply and deadlines are at the bottom of the page:
Personal development and benefiting others (deadline midday 13 March 2013)
Design your own Leeds for Life project for you or your group to develop your skills whilst also benefitting others. Further details
Travel abroad (deadline midday 13 March 2013)
Whether adventurous travel for personal development or to participate in socially- and environmentally-engaged projects overseas. Further details
Cambodia Volunteering (deadline midday 13 March 2013)
The opportunity to volunteer in support of School Children on a project in Cambodia. Further details
Adventurous Travel (deadline midday 19 April 2013)
This new opportunity aims to enable more adventurous or expeditionary travel. Further details
Conference Attendance (no deadline)
Apply for funding to attend academic conferences. Further details
Travel writing (deadline 31 January 2013)
Generous support from Ede & Ravenscroft provides a £1,000 prize for reflective travel writing, whether or not linked to a specific project. Further details
If you are looking for inspiration, the case studies below give examples of projects working with diverse communities both locally and overseas, from St James’ Hospital in Leeds to Nepal, Malawi and India.
- Action Easter Holiday – Harry Coleman (click to expand)
The aims of the Action Easter Holiday was to take 14 children from the most disadvantaged 2areas of Leeds on a fun filled week long holiday during the Easter break. Volunteers who come on the holiday should be given the opportunity to take part in all aspects of the holiday including the planning.
Through this holiday we hope to give the children an unforgettable experience. The activities that we will do will challenge the kids and encourage teamwork and boost confidence. The children we take come from some of the most socially and economically deprived areas of Leeds and this holiday will provide them with a change to get away from the city and participate in exciting activities. We will foster a welcoming and nurturing environment which will allow the kids to be kids and feel safe. Volunteers will act as good role models to the children as young people, showing that if you work hard you can achieve your dreams in life. Taking the children away will also give their parents/guardians a break in order that they can concentrate on their own relationships or other children which they may have.
Volunteers will also gain a lot from the experience. Many of the volunteers will not have been on such an intensive project with children. This will be great practical experience for students wishing to peruse a career working with children. Volunteers will improve their planning skills preceding the holiday and while on the holiday will explore their ability to interact with children, cope with challenging behaviour and keep the kids entertained for a whole five days. The children we take on the holiday will come from non-traditional backgrounds for entry to university but will challenge these misconceptions and show that everyone can go to university if you work hard.
The holiday was a great success with all the children and volunteers having a great time and learning a great deal. Many overcame fears such as that of heights when we went rock climbing. All the activities were chosen to increase confidence and experience of the kids and perhaps challenge their views.
Having been a volunteer on many projects I appreciated some of the issues which may arise during a children’s residential project. Being a coordinator presents many different challenges. I greatly improved my ability to deal with challenging behaviour in a way that is beneficial to both the child and the rest of the holiday. An aspect of being a coordinator I found particularly challenging was managing a team of 10 inexperienced volunteers. I have learnt for future holidays that a more intensive training day is needed for such a long residential.
It was extremely rewarding to see all the kids enjoying their time away on the holiday and saying that they did not want to go home. After the project it is great to see that the volunteers who came on the holiday have stayed in touch and friendships have been sparked by this experience together.
- ‘No Frills’ The Leeds Graduate Fashion Show (click to expand)
This was a culmination of 3 years of hard work for over 40 graduating students. For each student the show provided an invaluable chance to advertise themselves to potential employers and propel them into the industry. While we simultaneously completely our final year projects and dissertations, Danni (a fellow student) rallied the group to begin arranging our own Leeds based show.
With the help of the organization 'Bag it Up' the graduation show aimed to raise money for the Yorkshire Air Ambulance.
Each graduating student profited from the event by being given the chance to show case their work. The large audience included industry guests and the photos and publicity material are now invaluable parts of our portfolios. For those of us heavily involved in the organization of the show; our professional and inter-personal skills and commercial awareness were tested and developed.
After initial discussions and meetings, groups were formed and allocated specific areas to cover: Securing Victoria Works in Leeds as our venue provide a well know but blank canvas which allowed us to promote our selves individually using the no frills theme. (Luckily the theme also allowed us to cut decorative costs!)
The creation of these smaller teams provided the opportunity for each individual to develop skills of leadership; whilst allowing each nominated group leader to delegate independent work to members of the group.
The groups also allowed each member to use their strengths and exploit their contacts, ensuring we got the best deals in each area. For example: Models scouting (for on campus volunteers) was one groups responsibility- this included a professional model, ensuring the group knew what to look for in the volunteer models. They also had to coordinating fittings and the model running orders on the night: A job which demanded good communication, organisation and logic (not to mention working well under pressure). Scouting and booking fellow volunteer students, demonstrated the groups confidence and social sensitivity. Other teams booked and negotiated lighting, venue and chair costs and coordinated makeup and hair (persuading Sassoon and professional make-up artists to volunteer their invaluable services) We also had groups to design, print and distribute tickets and even create a website. Local businesses were approached for support (and while many could not offer financial backing we were able to generate further money for the charity by raffling donated prizes at the event.) While the division of labour for such a large event and with so many organisers was necessary; our communication and time management were tested when ensuring the smooth running of the show.
Thanks to the massive help received from Leeds for Life, ‘No Frills’ was presented to just under 1000 guests on the 21st of May 2009. The show run unbelievably smoothly despite the high volume of (artistic) students involved and raised £6,000.00 towards the worthy Yorkshire Air Ambulance. The event not only raised money for its cause but potentially launched our own careers and provided a brilliant memory to take from Leeds.
- Presenting at an International Conference (click to expand)
We are four English Language students who undertook a module on Forensic Approaches to Language from the English Department taught by Dr. Alison Johnson. On the basis of the work we produced on the module, Dr. Johnson (also a member of the IAFL scientific committee) invited us to produce and present an academic paper at the Conference of the International Association of Forensic Linguists (IAFL), held in Amsterdam from the 6th - 10th of July 2009. Our four pieces of individual research done in the module were transformed into 20 minute presentations and were presented to both experts and fellow students at the conference under a thematic session. The name of the 2 hour thematic session was ‘The Undergraduate Classroom in Focus: Learning to Research Forensic Linguistics’ and it consisted of a 20 minute introduction from Dr. Alison Johnson, followed by our four 20 minute student presentations with 20 minutes for questions at the end. Our innovative research covered politeness in the courtroom, lexico-grammatical features and language universals of British Acts of Parliament and bilingual contracts, a comparative historical analysis of trial proceedings and the validity of voice parades and naïve identification as a form of evidence. We had a large audience of around 40 people for our session (there were 3 other parallel sessions) and we were pleased to receive questions from many educators and researchers in the field.
The IAFL holds a conference every two years in different locations around the world. This year’s session was held at the VU University, Amsterdam. The conference attracts the most eminent figures in the field of Forensic Linguistics and the Language of the Law including academics, lawyers, judges, police officers, etc. from around the world. Individual papers and posters at the conference dealt with all aspects of forensic linguistics, including topics such as: courtroom interaction, police interviews, courtroom interpreting and translating, the readability/comprehensibility of legal documents, the analysis/interpretation of legal texts, language minorities and the legal system, the use of linguistic evidence in court, authorship/speaker identification, the teaching of forensic linguistics/language and law, etc.
Skills and Attributes Developed
Fuelled by our passionate interest in the field of Forensic Linguistics, preparing and presenting our research at the conference has allowed us to expand our knowledge, increased our confidence and made a meaningful contribution to this exciting field. Our initial research increased our analytical thinking and developed our research skills to professional standards. Developing our own research projects and adopting our own strategies for data collection and analysis has enhanced our qualitative and quantitative analytical skills; skills which are transferable in the post-university world. Through the honing of our work for presentation and publication, these research and writing skills have been developed to professional standards. Presenting to an audience of undergraduates and experts has increased our communication skills as we had to pitch our research to the right level and translate our ideas clearly and concisely, whilst entertaining and interesting our audience. Additionally, both presenting and justifying our research through Q&A has increased our academic and personal confidence.
Benefits for Us and for Others
This project has furthered our personal development, expanded our horizons, enhanced our career prospects and our academic CV in general, improved our chances to enter postgraduate study, made a contribution to the academic community and reflected positively upon the University of Leeds. Our project has also given us the excellent opportunity to get a piece of academic work published, which will not only benefit others by contributing to the field of Forensic Linguistics and the specialist community with original and innovative ideas, but also will reflect favourably upon the University of Leeds. The presentation itself has showcased the University’s high standard of research-led teaching and learning and has developed our skills in communication and professionalism. We also hope that this report will encourage other students to partake in such beneficial opportunities.
- Art Workshops at St James’ Hospital Leeds (click to expand)
This project involved me providing a once a week art workshop for teenagers and young adults with cancer in the Bexley wing at St James’ hospital in Leeds. Art has long been used as an aid to health and well-being and not only did this workshop provide that, but also education, entertainment and a therapeutic outlet for the patients.
Knowing the patients' usual routine was being stuck in the ward and resorting to sleep as a pass time, I knew I needed to think of an inspiring first session. The first week I took along some black and white photographs for the patients to imaginatively colour. With six people on the ward; four joined in, however only one took part in the task I had prepared. The activities coordinator, Dave Butt, was impressed I had gained the attention of four of the patients, but I felt I could do better than this.
I decided a big project was needed. Over the next 5 weeks patients aged 13-25 contributed to a large piece, original by Samuel Palmer, which I had drawn over 12 canvas boards. Many patients found the painting sessions very relaxing and it took their mind off their medication. I also noticed group activities brought the patients together, encouraged conversation and began to build a supportive network between them.
The only problem with a large painting was I greatly underestimated the time needed to complete it. Consequently, this pushed the completion of other work further down the project timeline and I began to realise the group would not create as much work as I needed within the time available. I had planned to finish the art workshops by August – giving me September to create and print the book of the patients’ artwork, which I would sell to raise awareness and funds for the Teenage Cancer Trust (TCT).
After realising I needed a large quantity of work, I decided to do a series of smaller tasks with the patients. These consisted of using different media, creating abstract/imaginative work and a TCT book cover.
While beginning to overcome my first problem Dave Butt left the ward. Without anybody to get the patients out of bed I thought my project was doomed…
I managed to keep a number of patients interested and decided a large canvas would regenerate the enthusiasm amongst the group. Arranging for Catherine Austin, the activities coordinator for the 13-18 year olds, to stand in for Dave also helped.
Now back on track, I began a large jigsaw version of Van Gogh’s Starry Night with the young people in the clinic. This again worked brilliantly as the patients were able to do as much or as little as they wanted and as a result most joined in while they waited for their check-ups. The environment was transformed from silence to a chatty and relaxing one.
Throughout the project there have been days when either no patients were in or none of them willing to or able to join in – that was simply the nature of the environment and something I learnt to work around. Unfortunately, even though I have continued the art workshops, I haven’t gathered enough work to produce the book; I have therefore decided to continue the project until this has been produced.
Setting aside the problems, the benefits patients gained and the rewarding parts for me are endless. As I mentioned, the larger projects brought about a new chatty, happier and relaxed atmosphere in all areas of the hospital where I worked. Many of the staff have complimented me on my professionalism and ability to talk to and get on with anyone and everyone. I believe this ability has enabled me to gain the trust of the patients. One session in particular stands out in my mind – when I worked with two fourteen year olds who were taking art for GCSE. They had no confidence in their ability and through the guidance, constructive criticism and compliments I gave them, they both produced fantastic pieces of work. I thoroughly enjoyed that session and watching the girls’ reactions to their own capabilities was particularly inspiring.
I consider myself to already have skills in flexibility, team work and creative problem solving. However this project has helped me to further develop all those areas, having to work with many different groups of staff and patients. Being able to alter what I am doing to fit around the sessions for example my university work and commissions, has improved my time management. Having gained praise at University for my communication, organisation and presentation skills, these attributes came into play and have been enhanced through having to convince, encourage and keep the patients’ interest. I feel a great sense of achievement; when I think about how much I’ve improved at explaining how I paint details in my own work. An attribute I have developed through the financial side of my project is commercial awareness, organising donations and costing the production of the book, how many I need to sell in order to break even and make a profit.
Receiving the grant from the Leeds for Life Foundation was an encouraging achievement in itself, but it also gave me the freedom to develop personal attributes and discover new skills. Thanks to you I enter the new academic year (my final year) with a new found confidence and belief in myself.
- Outdoor Mix - Natalie Tiu and Jemima Heap (click to expand)
Outdoor Mix is a residential activity weekend (Friday evening to Sunday evening) for children aged 9 to 11 from Leeds. It is organised by Leeds University Union’s Action society; a student-led society supported by staff in Leeds University Union’s Volunteering and Community Office. Leeds Children’s Charity works in partnership with Action to help deliver the project. The aim of the project is to enable young people to pursue outdoor challenges, experience the countryside, meet new people, step outside their comfort zone and realise their potential.
End of Year Summary
Over the 2010/11 academic year, Outdoor Mix ran 4 weekends, providing 38 student volunteering opportunities and 33 children with a chance to try something new and exciting. Some of the bigger activities included; Kayaking, Rock Climbing, Zipwiring, and Abseiling whilst back at the accommodation they enjoyed activities like cookie making, dodgeball, a fashion show, and swimming.
The project started with just under £6000 (£3000 carried on from the previous year and a further £2900 from Leeds University Union. Over the course of the year we managed to secure a further £6300, totalling an ingoing of £12300. Where the money came from: £5000 from the Grassroots Grant, a £500 grant from The Cooperative, £500 from the Leeds For Life foundation, £125 from Leeds University Union Give It A Go, and £300 from local councillor’s MICE funding. The money has allowed us to provide a wider and more exciting range of activities for the children and invest much needed equipment such as new sat navs and walking shoes for the kids. We are fortunate enough to be able to leave £3000 to stand next year’s project coordinators in good stead.
Leeds Children's Charity and Outdoor Mix Partnership
From November 2010, the Leeds Action Student Volunteer group created a partnership between their residential projects (Outdoor Mix, Venture, and Easter and Summer Holiday) and Leeds Children's Charity with the aim of ensuring the long term sustainability of the student projects whilst extending the services of the charity.
The partnership saw Leeds Children's Charity offer support to the projects in referring children for the trips and in taking on a shared responsibility in issues of safeguarding children.
In addition to this, Leeds Children's Charity offered a reduced price for use of their accommodation and onsite facilities in Silverdale, reducing the financial pressures of the projects and allowing us to spend more money on activities and equipment for the trips. The accommodation is located in an ideal location for many of the activities we have chosen making it logistically easier for the project to run.
Working with Leeds Children’s Charity has proven to be a great success. The support we have received has allowed the trips to run more efficiently and safely, allowing the volunteers to focus more of their energy in entertaining the children. We hope that the partnership will carry on for years to come!
Awards for the Project
Leeds for Life Awards – Jemima Heap & Natalie Tiu Outdoor Mix nominated for the Community Award Leeds Vinvolved Awards – Natalie Tiu winner of Most Committed Volunteer Award Action Awards – Jemima Heap winner of the Bright Future Award Views from the Volunteering and Community Office at Leeds University Union The efforts of Natalie Tiu and Jemima Heap, along with staff at Leeds Children’s Charity, have been instrumental in ensuring the future viability and sustainability of the ‘Outdoor Mix’ project. We are very pleased that the partnership has been established and working with Leeds Children’s Charity has provided us with expertise and support that the project needed to develop. It has also meant that the project has run consistently throughout the year benefitting more children, rather than more sporadically at the whim of funding and ever-changing external factors.
Following feedback from our volunteers, we have been able to identify which aspects of the projects ran better than others, and which have needed to modify. Cookie making, Laserquest, Zip wiring, Archery and Mountain Boarding received the highest ratings by the volunteers for how well these activities engaged the kids, often scoring 5/5. Less good activities included Abseiling and the High Ropes course as a few of the children were too scared to try these and/or there was often a lot of waiting time between turns. Kayaking proved to be a bit of a logistical nightmare in terms of getting the kids back into dry clothes and shoes, however the second time we did this we were better prepared and the changing time significantly reduced. Wet shoes would perhaps be a good investment for the future.
Finally, we would like to suggest a longer briefing period for volunteers, allowing them to get to know each other prior to the trip and raise any worries they may have. Training based around time-filler games would be beneficial as there are often periods of time between the larger activities where the volunteers need to keep the kids entertained; having a range of quick games to hand would help here and ensure the children don’t get bored! This is particularly important for newer volunteers.
On a personal note
We had loads of fun running these trips and the project was definitely worth all the hard work. The response from volunteers and the kids was really positive and we came away from each project feeling proud of all we achieved. We’ve learnt a lot about ourselves too; our strengths, weaknesses, how we work with others etc. and we have continually worked to improve the way we work following feedback from our volunteers and from staff at Leeds Children’s Charity and Leeds University Union. The support we received from volunteers on the trips was great; in them keeping the kids entertained and helping to make sure the trips ran as smoothly as possible!
“Thanks for a fun weekend, I learned lots of new things like how to drive and interact with children so I have come away a better and more well-rounded person…” Claire Henley, Volunteer
- Tip of the Tongue Theatre Company (click to expand)
“Tip of the Tongue is a new theatre company that is dedicated to the development of original performance work. By presenting traditional storytelling in a theatrical context, we want to give voice to true stories of our own, individuals close to us, and our audiences. With the addition of live instrumentation, we aim to create a unique genre of performance that leaves a lasting impression on our audience.”
In March 2011, we received an email to say that our new theatre company, Tip of the Tongue, had been granted £1,400 towards our Edinburgh project. This would be granted in two instalments: £700 in the immediate future and the other £700 on completion of the initial project – Emerge Festival.
Having this substantial amount of funding meant we could take up the offer of performing in one of the five key Edinburgh venues: C Venues. With this comes an automatically wider audience, thanks to the venue’s immense reputation and existing infrastructure. Therefore £600 of the first grant instalment went on the initial payment for C aquila Studio.
To prepare ourselves for our twenty-five day Edinburgh run, we took part in the Leeds based Emerge Festival. This is a not-for-profit event so the remaining £100 from our first grant instalment went on props, set and musical instruments, to be used both for Emerge and Edinburgh. Our involvement in this festival took the form of a twenty-minute scratch performance on Tuesday 21st June at 7.30pm, giving us a chance to show a fraction of our show ‘If Walls Could Talk’ to fresh audiences who would give us feedback in plenty of time for development before the Edinburgh run. The feedback was all extremely positive and very constructive. Every audience member seemed intrigued and impressed by the theme of the performance, and there were many experienced people in attendance, including actors and practitioners; members of the Arts Council England, and the Marketing and Programming Director of the Carriageworks theatre in Leeds Millennium Square. These contacts were very valuable to us, and through our participation in this festival we have consequently secured free hire space to preview our show in both Leeds and London in late July. These previews will deliver the full hour of our show, and will hopefully be played to many of the audience members from Emerge, who will then be able to see our progression since their initial feedback. As is obvious, Emerge Festival was a vital part of our professional development as a company. The feedback we received and the contacts we made provide a significant base to develop from and will most certainly be of value to us during our time in Edinburgh.
The final grant instalment from Leeds for Life will again be split into two parts. £500 will go towards the final payment for our venue, and the remainder will be spent on marketing costs including flyers, posters and t-shirts.
The Leeds for Life grant, as you can see, holds so much more than simply monetary value. It has enabled us as a company to do more with our project. From the acceptance of our Edinburgh venue, a domino effect has begun with more and more opportunities arising, giving us a real shot at success; for our Edinburgh show to be the first project of many.
- Study China Programme – Beth Lackenby (click to expand)
I took part in the Study China Programme this Easter, the aim of which was to give university students the opportunity to spend time abroad as part of their studies, in order to equip them with the skills and awareness that they will need to live and work effectively in the global economy. The programme entailed staying at the University of Nanjing and studying an intensive mandarin language course, whilst experiencing Chinese culture and society, visiting businesses, local schools, going on excursions to surrounding cities and so much more. As a Geography student, the opportunity to go to China, a country right in the midst of huge development, has been extremely beneficial to my studies, as I was able to experience a very different and unique culture and witness how China’s economy, as it progresses so rapidly, is impacting the country both on a human and on a physical scale.
Spending Easter in China has been life changing in that I have developed and learnt so many new skills, which I will take with me throughout the rest of university and beyond into the world of work. Prior to going to China I had never travelled alone before and so this was a new challenge to me and although slightly daunting at first, I soon felt a wave of independence and maturity as I set off on my journey to the far East. One of the most valuable attributes that I could have gained from this trip was being able to develop and improve my basic level of the Chinese language. I am proud to have improved so much in such a short space of time and believe that this will be extremely useful when I enter the global market and world of work, and hopefully return to China in the future. The ‘laoshis’ (teachers) were Chinese post graduate students and benefited from being able to practice their English with us every day, whilst also getting to watch our speedy progress with the language, which was due to their excellent teaching and support. I also attended lectures as part of the course at the university, thus I was given the opportunity to gain an insight into China’s economy, history and foreign policy, gaining valuable knowledge which I can apply to my studies in geography and am very fortunate for having been able to experience the country for myself.
The group was made up of sixty other UK students, who had also been successful in receiving a place on the programme and I soon made lots of friends. Furthermore, we were looked after by Chinese students, whose constant hospitality and enthusiasm meant that we became very close and spent as much time as we could together. We would go for meals in the evenings to bars and to karaoke and on our days off, we would all go shopping together and visit many amazing and beautiful places. For example, we visited Chinese gardens with spectacular scenery, temples and memorials, picked strawberries on Nanjing’s ‘Strawberry Island’ and went to a Chinese spa in the mountains for the day, thus we were very fortunate to be able to experience so much of China. We also went on overnight trips to nearby cities such as Suzhou and Shanghai, which was very exciting and the university would organise activities for us, such as Chinese calligraphy and painting lessons, tai chi and a China’s very own version of the X Factor, which we entered and sang in mandarin, making the front page of a Nanjing newspaper!
As a student only in my first year, I never would have expected that I’d be given the opportunity to visit China and study at such a prestigious university there. This was without a doubt the highlight of my year and I feel extremely privileged to have been a part of the programme. The Leeds for Life Foundation allowed me to take part in an adventure which has opened new doors and opportunities for me, and I will never forget the experiences, and friends that I made along the way.
Applying for a Leeds for Life Foundation Grant (deadline midday 13 March 2013)
There are two calls for projects each year, at the beginning of term 1 and term 2. Look out for details via the portal and campus web.
The deadline for the next round of applications is midday on Wednesday 13 March 2013.
For further information about the Leeds for Life Foundation, please email the Leeds for Life team email@example.com
Application Form (Leeds for Life Foundation)
Cambodia Volunteering (deadline midday 13 March 2013)
Do you want to be part of the first student team to volunteer in support of school children in Cambodia this summer?
The University is launching its first international volunteering programme in Cambodia. With generous support from Santander Bank ten students will be selected and receive a £500 grant towards the cost of the volunteering programme. You will be expected to raise additional funds towards the overall cost of the project.
As a member of the team you will travel to Cambodia for 2 months in July and August to work in a new rural school teaching, running activities, fishing, shopping and gardening. Weekends will be spent in the Capital City Phnom Penh enjoying the culture. The trip will end with a visit to the world heritage site of Angkor Watt.
If you are interested you will need to submit an application form by the 13 March (midday) and then, if successful, attend a selection day from which the final ten students will be selected. You will be supported throughout the trip by an experienced project leader
Application Form (Leeds for Life Cambodia Volunteering)
Adventurous Travel (deadline 19 April 2013)
A new opportunity under the Foundation means that you can now apply to undertake more adventurous or expeditionary travel. If you have an idea or a plan to visit a more remote part of the world or to push your own boundaries this new strand could enable you to fulfil your ambitions.
Following initial application and interview you will be fully trained in the University’s risk assessment process before attending a meeting with other successful candidates for your plans to be signed off.The deadline for applications is midday on the 19th April 2013.
Application Form (Adventurous Travel)
Applying for a Leeds for Life Foundation Conference Grant (no deadline)
Through generous support from Santander there is a grant fund for undergraduate and postgraduate students to contribute towards the costs of attending academic conferences or events that will enhance your knowledge and skills development.
Funding of up to 50% of the conference or event cost is available to a maximum of £400. To apply for the funding you must complete the Conferance Awards application form and seek endorsement from your personal tutor.
Application Form (Leeds for Life Conference Grants)