Universities in Wales have today launched a new framework to help universities build upon the ways they work with people, schools and communities. This new tool will support universities in delivering significant economic and social benefits by connecting more closely with communities across Wales and further afield.

The first of its kind in the UK, and the first in the world to have all universities in a nation signed up to it, the Framework has been developed by Wales’ Civic Mission Network to prioritise civic mission and strengthen connections with the communities around them.

The Framework enables universities to share best practice in developing and delivering civic mission projects and supports the sector in demonstrating the positive impact of its civic mission work.

The Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 is at the heart of the Civic Mission Framework, with the seven wellbeing goals from this unique legislation forming the key principles to inform and guide how universities contribute to civic mission in Wales.

The Framework was officially launched at Universities Wales’ Civic Mission Showcase, with Wales Education Minister, Kirsty Williams MS, providing the keynote speech.

The online event also featured a series of case studies highlighting the activities undertaken by Welsh universities to benefit their local communities and the wider world – from leading a national Covid-19 wastewater monitoring project, to providing support to older people experiencing domestic abuse.

Speaking at the event, Education Minister Kirsty Williams said:

“Today is an important landmark for the sector and for me personally – this framework has been developed in, by and for Welsh universities and our people and places.

“I want to congratulate the Civic Mission Network and express my appreciation that HEFCW has been able to support it.

“By formalising the role and promotion of civic mission in legislation we are on the verge of something very exciting.

“I am confident that we have a sector that is strong in its sense of shared values, of the common good, of being stewards of community and country and hope that, in the next period, we will see an even stronger commitment to civic mission.”

Lynnette Thomas, Chair of the Civic Mission Network, said:

“Universities in Wales have long been rooted in their communities, with a proud history of working with people, public services and business.

“In the Civic Mission Framework, universities have an effective tool that will enable them to continue and build on this work to support our communities in much needed areas to help create a more resilient and equal Wales.”

Professor Julie Lydon, Chair of Universities Wales said:

“The disruption of Covid-19 has shown that universities in Wales have a unique capacity to pull together and deliver real impact across communities in times of need.

“Universities in Wales recognise that the nation faces a myriad of challenges over the coming years and that their role in equipping the nation to respond to those challenges must be a strategic priority. They will continue to prioritise civic mission and engage in conversation with leaders across their regions to tackle key societal changes and deliver positive outcomes for their communities.”

Dr David Blaney, Chief Executive of HEFCW, said: “

We are pleased to be able to support Universities Wales to develop the Welsh Civic Mission Network, which has created an important tool in the Civic Mission Framework that is launched today. We are delighted that today’s Showcase offers universities in Wales the opportunity to share their civic mission work with a wider audience. We will continue to support institutions in their vital work that they do in and with their communities.”

Case studies

Aberystwyth University
Dewis Choice, a project run by Aberystwyth University, is the first dedicated service in the UK for older people who’ve experienced domestic abuse. Since its inception, over 140 older people and their families have been provided with long-term intensive support, with many describing the service as life-saving. https://bit.ly/2LCFGGs

Bangor University
Scientists at Bangor University are working with Welsh Government and Public Health Wales to examine the levels of Covid-19 present in waste water. This work helps to capture the levels of the virus circulating in Welsh communities and can also provide an early warning system for other diseases emerging in the community, such as influenza and norovirus. https://bit.ly/2XvJrjK

Cardiff Metropolitan University
Design researchers at Cardiff Met have created a ‘HUG’ product which is designed to provide comfort and increase wellbeing in people living with advanced dementia. It has a beating heart, plays music, and it has weighted limbs that give the sensation of giving and receiving a cuddle.

In a care home study, people who used the HUG for six months showed an 87% increase in their wellbeing. https://bit.ly/2Ln1zJZ

Cardiff University
The Caer Heritage Project by Cardiff University aims to raise the profile of historical sites such as Caerau Hill Fort, which is the largest and most complex iron-age site in the Cardiff region. The project involves people and  local communities in every part of the process through activities such as historical research and archaeological digs.

The project has had over 3,500 active participants. https://bit.ly/3i20bbK

The Open University in Wales
The Blaneau Gwent REACH project run by The Open University in Wales in partnership with Linc Cymru Housing Association and Aberbeeg Residents’ Group supports Blaenau Gwent residents to engage with the arts, community and heritage.

There are plans to grow the project in all areas of Wales. https://bit.ly/2LJBg0I

Swansea University
The Swansea University Copperopolis project is focused on engaging with community groups, schools, colleges and charities in the heritage-led regeneration of Hafod copper works.

The work has helped to raise the profile of the industrial heritage of the Lower Swansea Valley and its importance to the city. https://bit.ly/3i0b3Hf

University of South Wales
The University of South Wales operates a Refugee and Asylum Seeker Sanctuary Scheme, which allows refugees and asylum seekers in Wales to access language tuition and language preparation before starting their degree. https://bit.ly/3ny6Vzo

University of Wales Trinity St Davids (UWTSD)

The Assistive Technologies Innovation Centre at UWTSD is working with Cerebra to develop a process for scanning the heads of children with brain conditions that have affected the growth and development of their skulls.

Imogen has cerebral palsy and loves horse-riding, but the shape of her skull makes it difficult to find a riding helmet that fits properly. Through this partnership, ATiC and Cerebra were able to use hi-tech scanning equipment to make a bespoke helmet that fits perfectly. https://bit.ly/38wiWAU


Wrexham Glyndwr University
The TrACE project by Wrexham Glyndwr University and ACE Support Hub aims to enable and support Wales to become a world leader in preventing, mitigating and tackling adverse childhood experiences and trauma.