The University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) was instrumental in helping Bristol become European Green Capital for 2015 – the first UK city to win this prestigious award. The city won the award not just because of its plans for the future but because of the city-wide efforts that Bristol’s people and businesses are already making towards creating Britain’s most liveable city.
The Student Capital project puts students at the heart of Bristol’s Green Capital 2015, with students from UWE Bristol and the University of Bristol taking a lead in sustainable activities across the city.
The project empowers and supports students to work in the community on projects with a sustainability focus. By the end of the project, students will have provided well over 100,000 hours of their time to volunteering, placements, internships and other activities. This means students gain valuable experience in running sustainability projects as well as gains for the City.
Student Capital is a HEFCE Catalyst Fund project, and is a collaboration between UWE, the University of Bristol, and Bristol Green Capital.
In recognition of students’ efforts, they gain the Green Capital Change Maker award. Student Capital enables students to become a Green Capital Change Maker, and work towards the award by completing seven hours of activity with a sustainability focus – be this environmental, social, economic, or cultural. If a student does 25 hours, then they are a Gold Change Maker. The Change Maker award celebrates students’ efforts, and also gives them a tangible record of their activities to use in the future.
Over 50,000 students study at the universities, which is 12% of the entire city’s population. The Student Capital project is mobilising this huge student community as a force for good by engaging with businesses, schools, and local community groups – having a positive impact on the economy and the integration of students into the core of the city’s sustainability vision.
Activities so far have included: local green space conservation projects, beach cleans, plastic reduction campaigns, free bike check-ups by a local company ‘Dr Bike’ on campuses, a Summer School in a Day ‘Sustainable Healthcare: The Green Approach’ hosted by the College of Medicine focusing on improving the health of patients and the planet simultaneously, farmers’ markets, public talks, engagement with local primary and secondary schools, and much, much more.