Community collaboration brings schools engagement into the picture

The Business School has strengthened its links with the north-east community after staging a successful collaboration with a voluntary group that supports men's health and wellbeing.

Portlethen & District Men’s Shed were asked to put their woodworking skills to the test by producing an eye-catching prop to help with the University’s schools’ engagement work. 

An international initiative attended mainly by men aged 50 and over, Men’s Shed connects participants with their wider community by promoting companionship and shared creative skills through a range of practical activities. From joinery and woodwork to arts, crafts, IT and horticulture, it is a great place for company and boosting mental health. 

With just short of 130 Scottish Men’s Sheds open and over 10,000 Scottish shedders across 32 local authorities, the popular initiative often provides support to other local groups. 

Pam Cumming of the Business School called upon their services recently to help her with an idea she had to boost engagement with schools. 

“My role sees me working with local schools to raise awareness and aspirations, explaining what and how we teach and also letting young people know that University is fun. 

“This often includes getting young people to take and share photographs either on campus or in relation to the projects we are working with them on. I wanted something that could be used to illustrate this and was delighted and grateful when the Men’s Shed agreed to make a photo board for me to take to schools.” 

Graham Norrie, a Men’s Shed member and former alumni from the School of Engineering, was approached to help, along with Dr Nan Liu, lecturer at the School. 

“Graham understood my brief and produced exactly what I was looking for,” said Pam. “He shares my passion for inspiring youngsters and also works with local schools on various initiatives. 

“Nan is also extremely creative and kindly produced the wonderful artwork. I am very much looking forward to taking this into schools and watching the children’s reactions, I know they will be very excited. Hopefully in the years to come we will see some of young people progressing to wearing the real graduation attire.” 

Graham visited the Old Aberdeen campus recently to hand over the board and was given a guided tour of the Cruickshank Botanic Gardens by curator Mark Paterson as a thank you. He also spent time with School marketing officer Lucy Holmes who shared some top tips to help Men’s Shed increase their own social media and communications activities. 

“The Men’s Shed has had a wonderful interaction with Pam and the Business School and we are delighted that we could help create a board that will be useful for the school students,” said Graham.

“Getting the chance to come back to campus and see some of the changes that have been made since I studied here has been wonderful. Understanding how the University interacts with local schools and the wider community has been fascinating to hear about and also education in terms of helping meet our needs around our own social media presence.”

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