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Queen Mary students launch auction to counter impact of Covid-19 on charity sector

Students undertaking a Degree Apprenticeship programme at Queen Mary University of London have launched a special auction to mitigate the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the charity sector.

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Photograph of Queen Mary's Degree Apprentices and academics
Photograph of Queen Mary's Degree Apprentices and academics

The Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship, specifically designed for the social sector, which includes charities, voluntary organisations and social enterprises, is a UK first and was launched last year.

Degree Apprenticeships provide the opportunity to study whilst gaining real-world experience with employers. Students split their time between university study and the workplace, and are employed throughout – gaining a full bachelor’s or master’s degree while earning a wage and getting real on-the-job experience in their chosen profession. 

A UK first 

Based at Queen Mary’s School of Business and Management, the Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship (Social Change) is a four year course with the first intake starting in September 2019. It is the first and to date, only programme specifically focused on social change.

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on the charity sector, with many having to postpone their day to day activities. As such over 80 per cent of the degree apprentices working with these organisations were placed on furlough and would have been unable to continue the work element of their apprenticeship – until they set about organising a charity auction.  

Mitigating impact of Covid-19

To keep their apprenticeships going and to help the charities involved (plus three local charities), the students, with support of staff, set about organising the auction. Money raised from the online auction, which starts on 10 September 2020, goes to the charities but it also provides new experience for students.

The apprentices have worked across all areas of the process ranging from governance, legal and financial logistics to marketing of the initiative. In particular the students aim to target charities that support Black Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities, who have not only been hit hardest by the pandemic but have also consistently been the most under-funded type of charity in the sector.

Dr Lisa D. Morrison, Lecturer Non-Profit Management Practice at Queen Mary said: "The Degree Apprenticeship students put the core purpose of the School of Business and Management at Queen Mary into action, highlighting social justice. I am happy to see students take on this initiative; this serves as a reminder that the future is bright."

Sarah Bryan, Business Development Manager in Queen Mary’s School of Business and Management said: "At the start of pandemic, we were faced with the dilemma of apprentices being furloughed and potentially having an enforced break in their apprenticeship. We came up with the idea of the Charity Auction to enable the continuation of work based learning as well as giving back to the charity sector who have been so badly impacted by Covid-19.

"The apprentices have shown real tenacity, dedication, creativity and willingness to learn in order to launch this charity auction and give back to society."

Enacting social change 

Thomas Nevill, Degree Apprentice based at The Samaritans said: “Not since our apprenticeship began have we been given the chance to so tangibly instigate social change. This auction has given us the ability to quickly turnaround a project, raising awareness of the charities involved and (hopefully!) a reasonable amount of funds to go towards the crucial services they all provide, at an increasingly important time.

"The skills we’ve all learned as teams and from the expertise of the Queen Mary staff members, who so kindly gave up their time, throughout this experience have also been invaluable for our own personal growth, something that we also hope can better prepare us to enact even more significant social change in the future. Thank you Queen Mary and my brilliant fellow apprentices."

Putting theory into practice

Arvinda Lalli, Queen Mary Degree Apprentice with The Scouts added: "The initiative to setup a Charity Auction has been a fantastic opportunity to exercise our practices as social change degree students. Not long ago we were studying marketing and law as a module at university, utilising the theory learned from there, we were successfully able to integrate it into this altruistic project that will help support a number of charities.

"The concept of learning theory and then using it on a practical level is a core principle of this degree  programme. To give back to those who not only provided us with this unique opportunity but also are helping the lives of others through the respective services that each of the charities are providing is remarkable. Ultimately, this project is the product of the synergistic efforts displayed by all apprentices and mentors at Queen Mary to help bring this project to fruition."   

Noama Chaudhry, Degree Apprentice at the National Charity of Voluntary Organisarions (NCVO) said: "This Charity Auction has been an excellent opportunity to be at the centre of a project for social change. I've been able to gain new skills, contacts and most importantly I hope we raise lots of money for such important causes. Please help us help the sector and grab yourself a treat by bidding for the prizes!"

Ahead of the launch, Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan recorded a special video message about the auction. Queen Mary was the first Russell Group institution to deliver a Degree Apprenticeship programme in 2015 and remains at the forefront of this support for students today.

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