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CEL for Community Partners

Guidance for our community partners who want to work with students to address real-world challenges and opportunities through UCL’s teaching.


CEL for Partners

Community Engaged Learning is a teaching method that combines academic coursework with the application of institutional resources to address community challenges and opportunities with mutual benefit.

The Community Engaged Learning Service (CELS) enables partnerships between UCL academics/students and external partners by creating connections and building capacity. 

These partners can be based in London and anywhere else in the world. We particularly encourage partners from underrepresented backgrounds to work with us. Besides CELS, UCL also offers an ecosystem of services for our external partners. You can pick as many of the services you like depending on your needs and interests. 

External partners can be:

  • Voluntary and community organisations
  • public bodies
  • business

See how you can get involved: 

Voluntary and community sector 
ServiceCommunity Engaged Learning ServiceUCL Volunteering ServiceEvaluation ExchangeCo-Production Collective
What is this service?The Community Engaged Learning Service exists to enable collaborations between UCL academics, students and communities in London and the wider world. Students work with communities to address a community challenge or opportunity through research and/or any other project as part of students’ assignment. For example, students and partners can work together to develop neighbourhood plans and social prescribing projects, monitor the air pollution in the community, develop exhibitions and collaborate on anything else the community might need that can be linked back to student learning.  
For more information:  
Community Engaged Learning Service.  
 
The Volunteering Service exists to connect UCL with other communities across London, primarily 
by engaging students in enriching volunteering opportunities.  
 
We have three main services: 
  • Community Partners – we place UCL students with volunteering opportunities at our network of around 400 community organisations.
  • Increasing and Evaluating Student Impact in Knowledge and Learning Exchange - for more information, please visit their pages here.
  • UCL Public Engagement - individual researchers may reach out seeking patient or public engagement input to their research – this is primarily done on a case by case basis, driven by individuals and their connections. 
  • Student-Led Volunteering Programme – we support students to set up and run their own community projects. 
  • Community Research Initiative for Students – we help create research collaborations between Postgraduate Taught students and community organisations. 
 
In addition we provide advice and support to UCL colleagues on issues relating to volunteering, 
and help them build links with London’s voluntary and community sector. 
 
We are a partnership between UCL and voluntary and community sector organisations in Camden and east London that aims to improve evaluation practice. 
 
Postgraduate students and researchers work collaboratively with organisations based in or working with communities in Newham and Camden. 
 
Find out more here on our webpage.  
 
Co-Production Collective is a co-production community where everyone is welcome. 
 
Together we learn, connect, and champion co-production for lasting change. 
 
We support co-production projects and enable others to co-produce, bring people together to share learning and ideas, and build evidence and influence to make the case for co-production. 
 
Anyone is welcome to participate in our co-creation opportunities! 
 
Find out more on our website. 
 
 
Examples
  • Find out more about the experiences of students and what they did in the pilot Evaluation Exchange here and about the long-lasting impact it had for the students’ involved, here.
 
 
Who benefits from this service?Partners who want to invest in a long-term partnership with UCL and further their mission through student and academic input. Partners who also want to be co-educators with UCL academics and take an active role in student learning. Voluntary & Community Sector organisations by being able to recruit more volunteers, and thereby being able to increase their impact upon their beneficiaries. 
 
Students benefit from being able to volunteer – we know they develop new skills, get insights into their academic work, and improve their wellbeing. 
Postgraduate researchers benefit from making connections, developing skills, and understanding a different sector.  
 
Voluntary and community sector organisations benefit from building confidence and capacities in evaluation practice. 
Anyone! Whether you’re an individual or part of an organisation, you can come along to any of our sessions to help co-produce Co-Production Collective, meet others who are interested in co-production, and develop your own practice.  
 
We work with grassroots and voluntary sector groups and organisations, as well as researchers, local authorities and other public sector partners.   
What role can the partners play?The partners can offer students data, resources, come up with a community asset or challenge and ask for student support, offer their time and advice to students on-site or in the classroom depending on the project.  
 

Partners can use our service to recruit UCL student volunteers for ongoing roles and one-off events. You can do this though our online directory, by attending our volunteering fairs and events, and through our newsletter and social media. If your opportunities are relevant to an academic department, we can help promote your roles to those students too. 
 
Partners also collaborate with our student-led volunteering groups, for example by inviting one of the groups to work with your beneficiaries. 

We are a partnership, so partner organisations play a key role. Organisations are welcome to join our community and co-produce with us.  
 
You can share your learning,  expertise, and opportunities at our sessions or by writing for our blog.  
 
You can commission us to deliver training,  partner with us on specific projects, or explore other ways in which we could work together.  
 
Who isn't this service for?For partners who want a one-off activity with UCL students, i.e. gardening day or organising an event (see volunteering). We only work with not-for-profit charitable organisations and volunteering projects run by statutory organisations like the NHS. Our programme is currently focused on partnering with organisations in Camden and east London. Co-Production Collective genuinely is for everyone, whether you’re brand new to co-production or experienced in working in this way.  
What should a partner be aware of?Community Engaged Learning projects take time to establish. Plan between 3-6 months in advance to establish a CEL project.  
Thinking what is best for the community organisation, but also for the students is key for a mutually beneficial partnership. 
 
Partners need to have well-run volunteering programmes and sign up to a code of standards – see full details. This year, 12 voluntary or community sector organisations will be matched with small teams of postgraduate students and researchers. They will work together for 6 months, from September/October 2021 – April 2022. During this time teams will have contact at least once a month and will work on a specific evaluation challenge that will be agreed at the start of the project. Our co-produced values guide everything we do, including how we work with others.  
 

 
ContactCommunity Engaged Learning ServiceOliver Peachey, Partnerships Manager, or UCL VolunteeringRuth Unstead-Joss, Evaluation Exchange Project Manager  
 
Co-Production Collective team

Other UCL  projects and services: 

Public sector 
ServiceCommunity Engaged Learning ServiceCo-Production CollectiveUCL East
What is this service about?The Community Engaged Learning Service exists to enable collaborations between UCL academics, students and communities in London and the wider world. Students work with communities to address a community challenge or opportunity through research and/or any other project as part of students’ assignment. For example, students and partners can work together to develop neighbourhood plans and social prescribing projects, monitor the air pollution in the community, develop exhibitions and collaborate on anything else the community might need that can be linked back to student learning.Co-Production Collective is a co-production community where everyone is welcome. 
 
Together we learn, connect, and champion co-production for lasting change. 
 
We support co-production projects and enable others to co-produce, bring people together to share learning and ideas, and build evidence and influence to make the case for co-production. 
 
Anyone is welcome to participate in our co-creation opportunities! 
 
Find out more on our website. 
 
 
Schools Engagement connects target schools with UCL to give young people greater opportunities to learn and progress. Programmes include hands-on workshops in schools with UCL students / staff, Saturday clubs, individual tutoring and mentoring.   
Examples 
Who benefits from this service?Partners who want to invest in a long-term partnership with UCL and further their mission through student and academic input. Partners who also want to be co-educators with UCL academics and take an active role in student learning.Anyone! Whether you’re an individual or part of an organisation, you can come along to any of our sessions to help co-produce Co-Production Collective, meet others who are interested in co-production, and develop your own practice.  
 
We work with grassroots and voluntary sector groups and organisations, as well as researchers, local authorities and other public sector partners.  
School communities – students and staff. UCL students and staff also benefit, gaining life skills, and knowledge of what east London education communities need. 
 
What role can partners play?The partners can offer students data, resources, come up with a community asset or challenge and ask for student support, offer their time and advice to students on-site or in the classroom depending on the project. 

Organisations are welcome to join our community and co-produce with us.  

You can share your learning,  expertise, and opportunities at our sessions or by writing for our blog.  

You can commission us to deliver training,  partner with us on specific projects, or explore other ways in which we could work together.  

Partners would be schools who want to commit to sustained engagement with UCL. Partners using this service would share feedback and data on participation and participants, which we need for monitoring and evaluation. 
Who isn't this service for? For partners who want a one-off activity with UCL students, i.e. gardening day or organising an event (see volunteering). Co-Production Collective genuinely is for everyone, whether you’re brand new to co-production or experienced in working in this way.  Schools outside Newham, Tower Hamlets, Waltham Forest, Hackney or Barking & Dagenham, and independent schools anywhere. Schools wanting one-off /ad hoc workshops/visits. 
What should a partner be aware of?Community Engaged Learning projects take time to establish. Plan between 3-6 months in advance to establish a CEL project.  
Thinking what is best for the community organisation, but also for the students is key for a mutually beneficial partnership.  
Our co-produced values guide everything we do, including how we work with others.  UCL’s Access & Widening Participation unit has a programme of activities that schools could take part in if not eligible for UCL East Schools Engagement
 
Other East Bank organisations have similar offers
 
 
UCL East schools engagement is working with schools already and taking a targeted approach to schools we haven’t worked with, based on widening participation data around e.g. MID. 
 
ContactCommunity Engaged Learning ServiceCo-Production Collective teamCeline West, UCL East Schools Engagement lead

Other UCL projects and services for public sector organisations: 

  • Rapid Evaluation Advice and Learning Service (REAL) pilot project has emerged as part of the Listen and Respond activity and is exploring how the skills and expertise of UCL staff and students can be utilised to support Camden Council to reflect on and evaluate their service delivery during the Covid-19 outbreak, and to use this learning to inform future service delivery to local people. 
Businesses

Whether you’re a global company, SME, third sector organisation or local authority, we have the people and processes that can get you connected to world-changing ideas and innovations. 
You can choose the Community Engaged Learning Service to address community challenges and opportunities and promote your mission. 
For more information about the services provided to businesses at UCL, please visit UCL Enterprise.


Benefits of introducing CEL

Access to resources through connection to the university

Universities often have resources that are not available to community organizations. These include specialized knowledge, trained researchers and funding opportunities (Kellog, 2002).​

​Further community partners’ missions and goals

When students are engaged with a group or organization in communities they become knowledgeable about the mandate, mission and services of that group or organization. The partner can benefit from student volunteering and overall from what the partnership can bring (Jones & Hill, 2001).​

​Potential pool of job applicants

Students who become engaged with an organization and spend time there can become potential employees for an organization and can be vetted through the partnership opportunity.​

Here you can find examples of collaborating with students on teaching projects


Services available to you

Training and mentoring

CELS Community Partner Training 

If you are a community partner and want to collaborate with students on teaching projects, we offer a training and mentoring session to enable you to understand how best to collaborate with UCL students and staff and turn your idea into a teaching project. 

Attending this session will help you to:​

  • understand what are the opportunities for collaboration with UCL students and staff in teaching​
  • understand what are the limitations for collaboration with UCL students and staff in teaching ​
  • understand how you can work with UCL students and staff in a digital learning environment​
  • Understand how you can turn your idea into a teaching project

To request training for you or your team, email: communityengagedlearning@ucl.ac.uk.

We will try to match community projects with UCL courses and students. CELS cannot guarantee the partnership. 


Funding

Community co-educators projects

This project is for partners who want to become educators for UCL students. These partners will receive training, support and up to £600 of funding (Higher Education Innovation Fund). 

​These partners can: ​

  1. Develop a case study for UCL students that can be used in the classroom ​
  2. Develop a university-community project based on the needs of their organisation or of the communities they represent with the support of the CELS team​. For example, see Live Projects
  3. Co-deliver teaching (if appropriate) ​
  4. Offer feedback on student assignments (if appropriate)​
  5. Support UCL students as co-decided​​

Email communityengagedlearning@ucl.ac.uk to express your interest and find out whether there is funding available.