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8 ways we have worked with charities through Knowledge Exchange

People in front of a shipping container with the letters MAKE in green caps and there is a trellis with hanging sheets of A4 and they are writing on some of them
  • Written byAnnika Loebig
  • Published date 30 June 2022
People in front of a shipping container with the letters MAKE in green caps and there is a trellis with hanging sheets of A4 and they are writing on some of them
Photograph by Adam Razvi, courtesy of CSM

Knowledge Exchange (KE) at UAL manifests through a wide variety of collaborations with many different types of external partners. One way in which we leverage the creative and innovative ideas of our academics, students and graduates is by working with non-profit organisations to help them create positive change — and contribute to bring our social purpose plans to life.

Here are 8 ways in which we have facilitated local and national collaborations with charities across our Colleges, Institutes and Research Centres.

LCC x Drawing Room: Creating animations for community engagement programme ROCK PAPER SCISSORS

Drawing Room are the only public, non-profit gallery in the UK and Europe dedicated to the investigation and presentation of international contemporary art. Earlier this year they collaborated with London College of Communication’s (LCC) BA Animation students to create short animations for ROCK PAPER SCISSORS: an ambitious three-year programme engaging local children, schools, teachers and families in contemporary drawing.

Students were tasked with creating animated loops for the Drawing Room's website and social media channels for the publicity of specific projects, promotion for the publication launch, as well as projections at public workshops and events.

Camberwell x Living Streets: Reimagining more inclusive walking environments

National pedestrian advocacy group Living Streets reached out to Camberwell College of Arts with a challenging yet exciting brief for BA Interior Spatial Design students: to reimagine our streets and achieve a better walking environment. The project was born out of Senior Lecturer Colin Priest’s personal interest in empathetic public realm design and inclusivity, as he explains:

"I’ve wanted to work with Living Streets for many years. One of the ambitions of this project was that it would enable us to develop conversations we have on the course about empathetic design and inclusivity. We came up with a brief that focused on the design of a paving system that works with the existing systems of paving but asks the questions: What is it made of? Who is it for? At the same time, the design should understand that the environment is about more than human access but also includes insects, animals, wildlife and weeds: the environment as the client."

A series of 3 photos showing a person's trainers and jeans as they stand on a pavement. Under their feet are three different combinations of 6 blocks arranged on the pavement.
Georgina Lombardero, Work by Georgina Lombardero, BA Interior and Spatial Design.
BA (Hons) Interior and Spatial Design, Camberwell College of Arts, UAL | Photograph: Georgina Lombardero

CCI x Power to Connect: Reducing e-waste and addressing digital inequity 

When schools were forced to migrate online during the Covid-19 pandemic, the issue of digital inequity became clearer than ever before. In response, Wandsworth Council and Battersea Power Station set up Power to Connect to raise awareness of digital exclusion in the area. As part of this work, volunteers have been collecting used laptops, tablets and computers from businesses and other organisations to hand them over to local schools and families.

To prevent the possibility of leaks of sensitive data which might keep organisations from donating devices, the charity reached out to UAL’s Creative Computing Institute (CCI) to develop data wiping solutions so that second-hand devices can be safely repurposed and handed over to young people. This Design Exchange Partnership was led by Professor Mick Grierson as part of Future Observatory, a national programme coordinated by the Design Museum and funded by Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) to demonstrate how arts and design disciplines can contribute towards net zero aspirations.

CSF x Catalyst in Communities: Exploring how fashion activism can lead to positive social change with ReGO

Centre for Sustainable Fashion (CSF) and Catalyst In Communities came together to set up ReGo, a community-based project addressing societal issues through fashion activism, led by Dr Francesco Mazzarella and funded by Foundation for Future London.

Earlier this year, those involved in the project celebrated the first anniversary of the partnership with ReGo: Our Story in the Making. The 3-week exhibition brought together students and staff from UAL, young participants from East London and local fashion brands to showcase garments created using repurposed metal from knives donated by KnifeSafe, an organisation fighting to reduce knife crime in London.

ReGo: Our Story in the Making

Creative Futures x Stride: Supporting underrepresented young entrepreneurs in the creative industries

Following the successful launch of Incubate UAL in 2021, Camberwell, Chelsea and Wimbledon Colleges of Arts have partnered with Stride to develop Creative Futures: a 12-month programme open to residents in Lambeth, Lewisham, Southwark and Wandsworth aged 18-25. It’s an opportunity for young people underrepresented in the creative industries to connect with mentors, learn how to set up a business, and attend talks and workshops with other creative entrepreneurs.

The activities take place across different workspaces in South London, including our facilities at Camberwell College of Arts, Greencoat Studios in Southwark and the Fabric Floor in Lambeth’s International House.

Talent Works: Empowering students and community groups 

Around 170 students have worked with local social enterprises, charities and community groups through Talent Works: a programme for LCC and Camberwell College of Arts students and staff to collaborate on a wide range of creative and communications projects.

The programme was founded after discovering many local initiatives often struggle to access creative communications talent. So far, Talent Works has helped a wide range of organisations build websites, run social media campaigns, created new branding, made films, taken photographs, designed print and digital materials, and written stories.

Talent Works

LCF x Oxfam: Finding creative solutions to environmental and social issues in the fashion textiles industry

Anti-poverty charity Oxfam collaborated with London College of Fashion students to create a capsule collection to highlight pioneering solutions to tackle some of the key issues present in the fashion textiles industry related to environmental and social impact.

Students from BA Fashion Design Technology: Womenswear and BA Fashion Textiles: Embroidery, Print and Knit got to investigate and experiment with different types of garments provided by Oxfam, looking at the different uses of fabrics between structured and unstructured garments through a range of pattern cutting approaches.

The group of students involved in the project demonstrated their skills and knowledge on materials, constructions techniques and finishes throughout the 3-month collaboration with Oxfam. The project concluded with a final presentation capturing the essence of the collection and communicating their manifesto for transformation in the fashion industry.

CSM x Somers Town: Empowering communities in London to address local challenges through arts and making

Launched in 2019, MAKE at Story Garden was conceived as a ground-breaking public studio in Somers Town and St Pancras, in the London borough Camden. Despite the challenges presented during the Covid-19 pandemic, in 2021 they finally opened for the local community as a public space for creative collaboration and social innovation.

The success and relevance of MAKE have turned it into a flagship project in UAL’s placemaking and community engagement activity, co-founded by Central Saint Martins and partners Somers Town Community Association, The Living Centre, Camden Council and Lendlease.

Earlier this year, MAKE was the main feature on a report produced by UAL's Social Design Institute to demonstrate how partnerships like these can open up lasting opportunities for residents to get in involved in arts and making activities as innovate methods to address local goals and challenges.

Find out more about how we work with external partners to tackle real-world challenges

Explore other Knowledge Exchange initiatives happening at UAL

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