Kira Swannell is one of the University's Lloyds Scholars

An innovative scholarship programme run in partnership with Lloyds Banking Group is supporting student development as well as contributing to the local community.

The Lloyds Scholars Scheme offers undergraduate students from lower household incomes a complete package of financial support, paid internships and the opportunity to develop employability skills. In turn, scholars commit to carry out 100 hours of voluntary community work each year of their degree.

Lloyds Scholar 21-year-old Kira Swannell, from Redditch, is studying Sports Science at the  University. Once at University she joined the Community Challenge society, a group run by other students on the Lloyds Scholars programme that arranges a variety of one-off volunteering events throughout Birmingham, supporting groups from the homeless to the elderly, which served to inspire her own activities.

Kira’s main involvement is Wellbeing Wednesday, where she and a group of ten other scholars visit a local school at Balham Wood in Rubery and run a variety of activities that the pupils wouldn’t normally get a chance to do. Aimed at children from years 7 to 11, activities include sport, art, fashion and music, as well as tutoring for older pupils. Many students at Balham Wood are from deprived areas, and so lack the opportunities available to many youngsters their age. Through Wellbeing Wednesdays, Kira and her team let these young people take part in activities they wouldn’t otherwise be able to, helping them build their confidence, pursue their hobbies, and learn new skills in a fun and enjoyable way.

Kira said: “Most of the pupils we work with don’t have a lot of opportunities, even simple stuff like extracurricular activities. With our volunteering, we try to arrange events that let these kids have fun and learn a lot.”

Tutoring also gives the older students the support they need to pass their exams and build on their opportunities. When Kira first began tutoring maths as part of the project, many of the pupils struggled, getting many answers wrong. Seeing them progress, and watching them score high marks across the board in a practice test at the end of term, was one of Kira’s high points from the year.

Keen to work with children after leaving university, Kira’s volunteering has also had practical benefits for her own future. She believes the programme has improved her communication skills and her leadership, enabling her to interact with people of all ages, keeping them engaged whilst imparting knowledge at the same time.

University Scholarship Co-ordinator Jessica Cooper said: “The Lloyds Scholars programme plays an invaluable role in supporting the retention, achievement, and effective progression into graduate employment of talented university students from low income backgrounds. Supporting talented undergraduates like Kira is an important part of our work and I am thrilled that she has gained so much from it.”

If you think you have what it takes to be a Lloyds Scholar, applications will open on 3 May 2018 on the website.

For further information, please contact Communications and Stakeholder Engagement Manager Sally Xerri-Brooks on +44 (0)121 414 3984.