Canterbury community

Community initiatives

We value our relationships with local residents and continually look for ways we can strengthen and extend our community ties. Here you can find out how our students and staff are contributing within our community by working with residents and local organisations on community development work, volunteering and fundraising.


Students, staff and alumni from the University of Kent volunteer more than 90,000 hours of their time each year to help local causes. Their activities have supported sports groups, societies and charitable organisations including Catching Lives Day Centre, Age UK Canterbury, Wildwood Discovery Park, Archibishops School Canterbury, Canterbury Homeless Outreach, Canterbury Foodbank, Kent Marrow Society, residents’ association litter picks and many more.

We’re proud of the valuable work that our staff and students carry out each year, giving up their time to benefit worthy causes and making a contribution to their community.

Here’s a closer look at some of our volunteers in action:

Want to know more?

Find out more about the University’s volunteering work, or tell us if you know of a project that needs volunteers.

Inspiring hearing-impaired children to play football

Work to establish Kent’s only grassroots football team for deaf and hearing-impaired children has been championed by University of Kent staff member and community volunteer Liz Flaxman.

In addition to her day job within the University’s finance department, Liz takes care of the administrative demands of running Whistable club, Tankerton FC in her spare time. The creation of a new deaf team aims to inspire local young people, aged five to 12, to participate in sport. Liz has been a driving force behind its launch and has worked to secure funding to expand the club’s provision.

With assistance from colleagues at Kent Sport, Liz took the lead in applying for funding from Canterbury City Council to support the development of the deaf team, winning a £3,000 grant.

“Tankerton FC is a grassroots football club run entirely by volunteers, so the funding we’ve received from Canterbury City Council is invaluable.

The children show a real passion for football and have constant smiles on their faces.

It’s hugely rewarding to see them make new friends and develop their skills.”
- Liz Flaxman, community volunteer

Liz Flaxman
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Helping to save lives

Catherine Graham has worked tirelessly and had a positive impact on the local community since moving to study at Kent. As President of the Kent Marrow Society, a volunteering society that works in partnership with Anthony Nolan to save the lives of those living with blood cancers, she has organised successful fundraising events and social events to promote awareness of stem cell donation and encourage people to sign the stem-cell register.

So far, one of Catherine’s recruits has gone on to donate and successfully save a life. Catherine is passionate about engaging with students, staff and members of the public to raise the profile of Kent Marrow Society.

Catherine Graham, President of the Kent Marrow Society
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Supporting the homeless

A team of ten Kent alumni and students volunteered at the Catching Lives Day Centre in Canterbury as part of a new initiative, Kent Gives Back.

It enables graduates and students to work together for a local community cause and help people and projects that matter to them. Volunteers ran social activities and helped to clean and organise the facilities to support homeless people in Kent.

“It was great to work with students and fellow alumni and be able to make a very small difference to a fantastic cause by interacting with the service users.

I can’t wait to get involved again for future projects”
- Alumna Jessica Farnham, volunteer

Kent alumni and students at the Catching Lives Day Centre
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Working with wildlife

Eleven volunteers worked with Wildwood Trust transforming the bison enclosure and painting the fences around the park as part of Wildwood’s woodland management plan. Our volunteers worked tirelessly throughout the day, planting more than 50 native tree saplings in preparation for the bisons’ new home.

“The students have helped to make our bison enclosure even closer to their natural environment. The bison will be relaxing in the shade of these trees for many years to come.

We would welcome back students from the University of Kent anytime!”
- Laura Metcalfe, Volunteer Coordinator at Wildwood Trust

Student volunteers at the Wildwood Trust
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Kent Student Awards

We celebrate our students’ outstanding extracurricular achievements and their contribution to the local community at the Kent Student Awards, which take place annually.

The judges look for inspirational students who have made a difference to people, communities or environments through dedication, innovation, understanding or skill.

There are 12 categories, including; Arts and Culture; Local Community; Sport Development; Entrepreneur of the Year; Sustainability; International/Multicultural Initiatives; Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity; and Fundraising.

See the full list of Kent Student Awards categories and criteria.

Results: Outstanding Contribution to the Local Community

Winner 2017

Sarah-Louise Brock

Volunteer Head Controller for SERV Kent, a blood delivery service using trained motorcycle despatch riders.

Second place

Catherine Graham

President of Kent Marrow working with the Anthony Nolan Trust recruiting, raising money and promoting awareness of stem cell donation.

Third place

Sarah Murphy

President of Stage Spiders, a student-led volunteering group which runs a number of community youth projects that aim to encourage confidence and creativity in children and young people through drama, storytelling, crafts and games.

Community partnerships

We work with a number of local community organisations and charities to raise awareness of social issues, inspire our students and staff to give back to their communities, and to make a positive impact on the local area.

Raising the profile of disability

The Student Support and Wellbeing team at Kent are working with local disability rights organisations to run events that raise awareness of disability.

The first-ever UK Disability History Month at Kent featured art exhibitions, musical performances, talks, workshops, film screenings, and a comedy night. Among the speakers was academic and disability rights activist Professor Mike Oliver, who delivered a public lecture on his work to develop a social model of disability, which had a profound effect on disability consciousness and social policy in the UK.

In February 2017 blind backpacker and author, Tony Giles, gave an inspirational talk about his experiences travelling the world. In March, a screening of Defiant Lives was co-hosted by the Centre for Independent Living Kent (CILK) and the Kent-wide Physical Disability Forum.

Galvanised by the enthusiasm of attendees from the University and the local community, further free disability events are taking place throughout 2018.

Visit the Student Support and Wellbeing webpages for more information.

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Necessary Furniture

We’ve teamed up with Canterbury charity Necessary Furniture to encourage students to donate unwanted items to be recycled as part of our Moving Out campaign.

The items they donate will benefit local people who need a helping hand, or be re-used by new students who arrive at the University for the autumn term.

The re-distribution of household goods used by students living on campus or in homes across Canterbury will boost Necessary Furniture’s work to make a positive contribution to the welfare of disadvantaged members of our community.

The charity has worked to save hundreds of tonnes of useable furniture in the last 11 years by re-distributing it to residents. They also provide training and work experience for the unemployed, giving them an opportunity to gain vital skills to help them into work.

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The University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NZ. T: +44 1227 764000

Last Updated: 25/04/2018