REACH2XL was developed as a community-based project aimed at widening participation in further and higher education.
During 2016-17 the project worked with ethnic minority young people in the Butetown area of Cardiff who were at risk of not participating in employment, education or training. It focused on developing the skills, knowledge and confidence they need to access and thrive in further and higher education.
The project originated during ongoing research by the Wales Institute of Social & Economic Research, Data & Methods (WISERD) Civil Society Research Centre in localities traditionally under-represented in further and higher education, and addressed a need identified by both young people and those tasked with supporting them.
Following two workshops on writing personal statements, which were delivered in Butetown by a Cardiff University admissions tutor to more than twenty young people, WISERD staff worked with a group of these young people, and with local youth and community workers, to develop a range of tailored support services.These included:
- workshops focusing on study skills, student finance, and time management
- one to one engagement and reflection sessions
- mentoring and volunteering opportunities, which included working with people with disabilities in the field of conservation
- a bespoke university open day including a tour of the campus and an opportunity to attend a lecture.
Key to delivery of this support was partnership with a wide variety of organisations within the region, including:
- Community Education, Cardiff Council
- Butetown, Riverside and Grangetown Communities First
- Student Volunteering Cardiff
- Communities and Tackling Poverty Analytical Team, Welsh Government
- Innovate Trust
- Cardiff University Widening Participation Team
- Cardiff University Student Support Services
- The Mentor Ring
- Knowledge and Analytical Services, Welsh Government
REACH2XL has engaged around thirty young people in and around the Butetown area of Cardiff, with the community development and youth workers acting as the key driving force behind their recruitment to the scheme.
These young people, perceived to be at risk of not participating in education, employment or training, have reported that the REACH2XL project has helped them to re-engage with their education. Many of them have reported an increase in confidence, and it is also evident that many have benefited from making connections beyond their immediate peer group and locality.
For the community education officers and youth workers, REACH2XL has contributed to the establishment of productive relationships. Many of the partners were already working in the area of widening participation. The project has not demanded significant additional resources, but rather asked the partners - particularly within the University - simply to work a little differently.
Many of the project’s partners have expressed an interest in pursuing work of this type further, and REACH2XL workshops are already being replicated with a new cohort of young people.
The project team are also considering the potential to expand provision to include new partners, and to extend the reach of the scheme beyond the Butetown, Riverside and Grangetown areas of Cardiff. There is also growing interest among partners in developing an A-level student-tutor project.
For further information contact Helen Blakely.