Partner testimony



Architecture and Engineering Club

“I’ve spoken to children who are aspiring to be architects so it is great for them to be working with DMU students who can have conversations with them and show them how to succeed. The volunteers are crucial because they have brought expert knowledge to the club to really challenge the pupils. I am really hoping that in the future I can just let them run with it.”

Neil Crook, gifted and talented co-ordinator at Lancaster Boys School

Coding Club

“The coding programme worked really well, the pupils loved it. The fact that it wasn’t a teacher but a volunteer from the university gave the project a higher status in the eyes of the children. Volunteers shared not just what they knew about coding but also their experiences of university, which made the children think about their next steps and what they would like to do.”

Candi Norman, deputy head at Mowmacre Hill Primary School


“I was absolutely delighted when we were able to start these classes again thanks to DMU Square Mile and the student volunteers from De Montfort University. The sessions are a real benefit to the community; a lot of the people that attend the sessions have been left behind as technology has moved on, or in other cases haven’t had the confidence to sign up for an adult learning course. With these sessions people can learn at their own pace in a more informal environment.”

Geoff Forse, Woodgate Resources Centre manager

Moving Together

“This year we have 45 students meeting each week to use DMU campus facilities to learn about artists, improve their leadership skills and practise a variety of dance techniques. The project allows students who don’t already go to classes but clearly have a passion for dance to take part and, since we don’t audition, anyone can get involved no matter what their experience is.

“DMU Square Mile completely funds the programme, which means that all of the students who take part do so for free, allowing young people that wouldn’t normally be able to access dance programmes to come along and take part.”

Emily Bolton, co-director of the Moving Together dance company


“The key to the project having an aspirational impact on the children is that DMU students go to the children’s school every week for 10 weeks to help. This gives the pupils the chance to have close-up contact with university students, which is important when a lot of the kids don’t know anyone who has been to university.”

Aaron Toogood, senior lecturer in Finance

School Support

“Volunteers are very beneficial because they provide a good role model and show the children an adult who is enthusiastic about learning, which can help raise the aspirations of pupils. A lot of the pupils would never have thought about visiting a university so the opportunity to go to DMU is really positive. Any volunteer is going to be beneficial to the students by helping them with class work and speaking to them about what they aspire to do.”

Jane Gadsby, head teacher at Stokes Wood Primary School


Dementia Training

“We run a three-hour workshop that is open to any student or staff at the university where people can learn more about dementia and get further information and I think without DMU Square Mile it wouldn’t have taken off as it did. It may still be happening but it would be chugging along at a slow pace and things would get muddled up. It wouldn’t have been as good as it is now.

“DMU Square Mile are the key instigators. I had the idea and Square Mile got it off the ground and now they sort everything out and I think that’s what we need because many lecturers have ideas but aren’t able to carry them out and that’s where DMU Square Mile comes to the fore.”

Chris Knifton, DMU senior lecturer and Dementia UK Admiral Nurse


“The Community Champions at DMU have been very active under the leadership of DMU Square Mile, who co-ordinate activities for champions across Leicester. For us it is essential that we have volunteers like the ones from Square Mile to go out into the community and raise awareness. One reason is that because they are local, DMU champions often understand the communities and many of them speak different languages. They understand the cultural context of where they live, the food they eat and how they might manage their diabetes within those cultures.”

Matthew Mehra, Community Champion Network co-ordinator at Diabetes UK

Free Hearing Screenings

“With the help of the Free Hearing Screenings project people are able to gain the confidence to go out and explore some of the things they may have wanted to do in the past. The volunteers are very important, I feel complete when I have a student with me. Even if they are in their early years I feel they are still able to give patients a service by looking into their ears and giving them advice about any issues.”

Gurpreet Santini, development officer at Action Deafness

Stem Cell

“The volunteers are essential to run the events and what has been really great about DMU Square Mile is that, at any one time, we have volunteers that help us and it is great because they know what they are doing and they get involved and hopefully they get a lot out of it as well. We’ve put a lot of people on the register and students, by doing what they are doing, are potentially saving a life because we have had matches and I’m sure there will be many more in the years to come.”

Kas Basra, co-founder of The Rik Basra Leukaemia Campaign

Teach First Aid in Schools

“As soon as I got the email I thought, ‘yeah, we’ll do that’ because it is something that links in with what the children have learnt this year. The children are getting to the age where they do need to start thinking about what they need to do to be safe. They are going out on their own now, they are playing out without mum and dad and this will help keep them safe.”

Candi Norman, deputy head at Mowmacre Hill Primary School

The C Word

“The C Word project is a partnership between DMU Square Mile and Macmillan that aims to provide information and support for people from black and minority ethnic backgrounds. It is about offering support to people who have been affected by cancer using the expertise of students in different subjects but also helping us to reach out into communities that don’t often access our support. Because of the diversity of the volunteers and the students at DMU it is a really great way to promote information in areas where language is a barrier.”

Danielle Mellows, Macmillan involvement co-ordinator



“Corporations are now looking for students to strengthen areas of their business instead of using a consultant that could cost thousands of pounds. What BusinessWorks provides for students is the opportunity to get experience before they leave university. This allows them to start work with the confidence they need to succeed. By improving charities across Leicester the students are provided with a way to help the community as well as having the opportunity to work creatively. The skills they bring to an organisation can also be passed on to employees in order to help create an improvement that is sustainable.”

Robert Bradshaw, DMU academic

Canal Clean-up

“It is really important to us that we make the area more welcoming and by having volunteers help it is easier to achieve that. We want to introduce new people to the area as well as preserve it for the existing community. One of the great things about the project with DMU Square Mile is that it has an international element so we’ve got people who are very much not from the area getting to know a little bit more about the waterways and how the city fits together.”

Tom Freeland, Canal & River Trust

LCiL Social Media Cafés

“The Social Media Café was set up as a way of encouraging the local community to come together and have access to information, advice and guidance while having cups of tea or coffee. We needed more help getting the cafés up and running and since we’d had a good relationship with the Square Mile project the opportunity was taken to recruit some volunteers that could help. Volunteers are proactively doing something that encourages people to come out of their homes to be in a safe environment, be fed and feel warm, and that makes it easier to share information and guidance.”

John Coster, LCiL project manager