In partnership with Islington Council, City students and staff support community projects as part of the University’s Sustainable City Week.

Published (Updated )

On Tuesday 21 November, the University’s Volunteering and Sustainability teams facilitated a community gardening project – bringing together staff and students with the Islington Parks team to help maintain Northampton Square Gardens.

The event was part of a programme of activities, workshops and panel discussions that took place for the University’s annual Sustainable City Week, which inspires students and staff to learn about how we can help deliver the UN Global Goals for Sustainable Development.

Group of people gardening in Northampton Square, collecting leaves into bagsAcross the day, a group of 30 people planted over 1,000 winter-flowering bulbs, as well as supported with general clearing and maintenance on the Square. The plants had been carefully selected by City’s resident Beekeeper for their benefits to bee health, supporting the University’s strategic aim to help improve biodiversity in the local area.

Sandhya Drew, Senior Lecturer for The City Law School said:

Many of us at City enjoy walking through Northampton Square in all seasons. It was great to participate in clearing and planting, and I look forward to us all seeing a beautiful, cared for Square in the Spring.

Gardening gloves in the mud“I enjoyed getting to know the students who turned up to support – it was nice to hear how important the Square is for many students as a place to chat, eat and even exercise.”

Working to reduce waste through Repair Cafés

In the same week, City also hosted its first Repair Café in partnership with Islington Council. City students and staff members joined a team of Islington Council ‘fixers’, volunteering their time to fix electrical items, perform IT updates and solve computer software and hardware issues for local residents.

Group of people round a table in the Pavillion, working with electrical equiptmentRepair Cafés are being increasingly set up to support people in extending the life of their possessions, to save money and reduce waste. The Café also served as a space to raise awareness of crucial issues around waste and the impact it can have on the natural environment and the climate.

Yogesh Kelavatthi Siddesh, Support Engineer in City’s IT Department, volunteered to help install and update software on residents' computers which had become unusable. He said:

It was a joy to see residents able to use their laptops again, which hopefully will now last longer. I also really enjoyed connecting with like-minded volunteers working with Islington Council.

“Events like this are important in helping us connect with our community of local residents around the University. I'd definitely encourage staff to make use of their volunteering leave and consider supporting events like this in the future.”

Fatimah Abo-Ragheef, City Electrical and Electronic Engineering student, volunteered her time to fix a range of computing and electronic faults – including successfully fixing a resident’s blender and rewiring a lamp. She said:

This hands-on experience allowed us to troubleshoot problems in real time, providing valuable insight into adapting to unforeseen challenges in practical electrical and electronic scenarios.

"I had the opportunity to learn from a team of experienced fixers who shared their expertise in a collaborative atmosphere. The experience was not only educational but also enjoyable. Working alongside my fellow course mates made the entire process fun, and by the end of the day, the Computing and Electronics tables had merged into one big group of passionate teamworkers.

"This was a valuable, real-life experience that enhanced communication, initiative, and instinct. There was a real sense of community, with supportive and patient customers – one even treated us to snacks!"

Kanan Barot, Assistant Vice-President (Civic Planning & Development), said:

City is proud of its place in our community and being a founding member of the Islington Anchor Institutions Network. Collaborating and engaging with our local residents at events like these, connecting as a community, and spreading the benefits of volunteering is so important.

“City staff members are encouraged to take up to two days per year as Volunteering Leave and I am delighted that our staff chose to volunteer their time in this way, giving back to our local residents.

"I look forward to ongoing engagement as we work together as a community, giving to and benefiting from all those around us.”