City life | By Gemma Bradshaw

City is recognised for its work to improve social mobility


City announced as a Silver finalist for ‘University of the Year’ in the UK Social Mobility Awards 2022.


The UK Social Mobility Awards (SOMOs) recognise and celebrate UK organisations in their efforts to improve social mobility, both within their workforce and beyond it. Organised by societal change charity Making The Leap, the SOMOs were the first national awards dedicated to social mobility.


Announced at an Awards Ceremony on Thursday 13 October 2022, City was awarded Silver (third place) for its implementation of a ‘Social Action Project’ module this year. The innovative collaboration between the Careers & Employability Office and the Department of Sociology and Criminology, which enables community-engaged learning through a core second year module.


The module supports students in developing the skills to work with community groups to address issues of inequality and social injustice that they have studied in the classroom. It teaches students about social research methods, work in the voluntary and community sector and helps develop employability skills by bringing students together in groups to seek out an external community organisation to work with, typically through running events, raising awareness through social media and conducting research.

From left to right: Ben Butler, Rachel Cohen (woman sitting), Gemma Kenyon and Benjamin Robinson in the Pavilion on Northampton Square.

This year’s intake saw close to 200 students working with 38 separate organisations, which ranged from NHS hospital trusts to global art NGOs. By making it a core module, City has levelled the playing field for students of all backgrounds and removed barriers to gaining relevant professional experience for students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds – who may need to spend their spare time in part-time paid work.


This first year has been a huge success with a 95 per cent completion rate and positive feedback from students, staff and partner organisations. In a feedback survey, students commented that “the support given by the module leader was very useful throughout”, that they “learnt useful skills, such as teamwork, leadership and organisation”, and that the module was “so engaging, really enjoyable and fun.”


A Community Fundraising Organiser at the NSPCC, one of the partner organisations, commented: “I have had the pleasure of working with a group from the ‘Sociology social action’ module… they produced a very impressive professional fundraising initiative at my request.


“The coherent, concise documents updated me regularly so I could follow their progress… this has been such a good partnership.”


Benjamin Robinson, Community Volunteering Officer at City, says “it has been brilliant to see the success of the module, and in particular how its positive outcomes have already opened the door to new relationships in the local community.


“Several new community partners have engaged with us, and colleagues in other departments have also expressed interest in creating similar modules, tailored to their discipline and students – which is great news.”

Benjamin Robinson in the Pavilion on Northampton Square.

City also saw success in the Student Social Mobility Awards, held earlier this year in July.


The University’s GradVantage programme was a finalist for ‘University Progression Initiative of the Year’ at the Awards, which showcase the incredible achievements of undergraduates from lower socio-economic backgrounds from across the UK.


The GradVantage programme from City’s Careers & Employability Office is aimed at final-year students who do not yet have their career plan in place, and who need support to maximise their chances of securing graduate-level employment after finishing university.


It offers access to a range of experiences and resources to help students get ready for the transition from university to work, to prepare for the job search process, and to have the opportunity to take part in a paid internship opportunity exclusive to GradVantage participants.


Gemma Kenyon, Head of Careers at City, says “it’s fantastic that our dedication to supporting students from lower socio-economic backgrounds has been recognised by being shortlisted for these two prestigious awards.


“The City Careers and Employability department recognise the talent of all City students regardless of their backgrounds and the initiatives celebrated by these two award nominations are examples of how we’re sector leading in our strategies to provide the support our students need to achieve their potential.”

At the Student Social Mobility Awards, Kyla Allyna Donnelly, who graduated this year from The City Law School with a First Class Honours LLB degree, was also named in the ‘UpReach Ten’ – which celebrate ten students who have achieved outstanding success academically, professionally or personally.


Kyla was nominated by her upReach mentor and The City Law School for her outstanding academic and sporting achievements, including her captaincy of the City Women’s badminton team.

Kyla (pictured right) accepting her UpReach Ten award from Kelly Jo Lihaven, Bank of America. Photographers: Deimante Aleksandraviciute and Ziggy Johannsen.

On receiving her award, Kyla said “this award is a validation of all my hard work, sacrifices, and perseverance during my time as an undergraduate student at The City Law School.


“Just being nominated is an honour… there are a lot of mentors, lecturers, peers, and employers who can see the potential in me to succeed, I just needed to see that for myself. I have so much to offer as a graduate, and I have the ability to achieve whatever I want in life if I just put my mind and heart to it.”