Six students have raised nearly £700 for a West Cumbrian charity by organising a sleep out and other initiatives to raise awareness of domestic abuse.
Elizabeth Molloy 33, Elizabeth Grayson 20, Holly Blackhurst, 19, Hollie Popplestone, 19, Sharina Simpson, 27, and Emma Fawcett, 29, are all in their foundation years studying degrees in law, policing, working with children and families and criminology at University of Cumbria.
For a module designed to give them team-working and organisation skills, they organised an event to raise money for The Freedom Project, a West Cumbrian based charity, supporting families who have experienced domestic abuse. The students chose this particular charity because its work was relevant to their degrees, but also because each of them had personal knowledge or experience of domestic abuse.
“The Freedom Charity was very relevant to us. Not only for our degrees but also because we have all confronted domestic abuse or lived with a person who has been a victim of abuse so it is all very close to all our hearts.“ said Elizabeth Molloy, LLB Law foundation year student at the University of Cumbria.
The students arranged the sleep out to highlight when a person eventually plucks up the courage to leave an abusive relationship they do so taking nothing with them and often have nowhere to go.
“When you leave an abusive relationship, most often you have nothing. It’s very mentally difficult and so the sleep out was a physical and mental challenge to get through the night with nothing with us really”, said Elizabeth.
The students camped out in the fields at the university’s Brampton Road campus and only had cardboard, a few sleeping bags to share and basic provisions to keep warm.
As a result of the sleep out, as well as a quiz night and a ‘guess the number of sweets in the jar’ competition, the students handed over a cheque for £674.36 to the charity.
“It costs £200,000 a year to run the charity and it’s purely because of grants and donations from people such as the students that we’re able to offer the services. So it means everything to us and our service users. Without people like them we wouldn’t be here”, said Vicky Pike, Trainee Project manager for the Freedom Project.
The charity was set up in 1997 and was originally run from the backroom of one of the founders. Since then it has grown exponentially and now has its own offices, nine counsellors and offers a helpline among other services to victims and perpetrators of domestic abuse, be they female, male or children.
Students from programmes students from Fusehill Street, Lancaster and Ambleside campuses on the integrated foundation year took part in planning and running an event or social enterprise for the essential professional skills module. The module was not just about fundraising, as many students saw it as an opportunity to make links with their local community and to help practice skills they learnt on their course.
Joanne Scott is Essential Professional Skills Module Leader for the Foundation Year, commented on the students’ success, “The assessment they did was about teamwork and organisation skills. They were trying to learn core soft skills – how to communicate, how to organise a team and work with different people. They gain the qualification at the end of the module but they learn so much more about themselves. They learn what it means to be professional, what it means to work with other people and they discover a passion they didn’t know they had. This particular team have learnt a lot about their own interests in this area and how they want to become advocates for it and I think they gained useful skills for life as well as for their degree.“
In total, the students raised £2,075 through a number of activities helping various charities including Carlisle Key, Unique Kidz, Help for Heroes, Cancer Care, Oaktree Animal Charity, RSPCA, Cash for Kids as well as the Freedom Project.
The students intend to run the sleep out as an annual event and plan to run the next one during the university’s ‘welcome week’ in September, when new students are welcomed to the university.