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UCL events news and reviews


Creating Connections 2

By news editor, on 8 June 2012

John Braime, Volunteering Services Unit

What happens when you put a roomful of academics, postgrad students and other UCL staff together with people from London’s community and charity organisations?

In the spirit of curiosity, this is exactly what we did on 30 May at Creating Connections 2, held in the Roberts Building Foyer at UCL. The idea was to find new and unexpected areas for collaboration between UCL and local communities.

In a way, it was a bit like speed dating – with all of the uncertainty that that format entails. Could we find a happy match between a mathematician and a youth group, an archaeologist and a refugee charity, a librarian and staff at a nature reserve? We were determined to find out.

The event itself was the product of some creative connecting – between UCL’s Public Engagement Unit, the Volunteering Services Unit and local resource swapping network Camden Shares.

Through this network, local not-for-profit organisations have been able to book unused room space at UCL, using points that they’ve earned through sharing their resources with other members. UCL researchers have then spent the university’s points to encourage community participation in some of their own projects.

Gavin Atkins from Camden Shares compered the evening, explaining that UCL has so much more to offer local people than just room space – and that the community sector has a wealth of ideas, contacts and knowledge to share with UCL. Hence, Creating Connections.

This was the second iteration of the event; we tested the waters back in February and were back by popular demand, with more than 70 people signing up for Creating Connections 2.

For the first part of the evening, attendees got into themed groups to explore potential areas for collaboration. A team of facilitators – from UCL, UCL Union and Camden Shares – kept the discussions moving along smoothly. Then, after a break for some food, we got down to the business of one-to-one networking.

Through crafty use of colour badges, and a strictly enforced five-minute limit on conversations, we ensured that attendees talked to lots of people they might never have thought of approaching.

So, were any happy matches made on the evening? There was the unmistakeable buzz of interesting plans being hatched. Lots of business cards and email addresses were exchanged, and people told us afterwards that they’d come away with their notebooks full of promising ideas.

Certainly, we’ll be checking up on how our attendees got on – and if only a small number of those conversations bear fruit, we’ll be seeing some very exciting collaborations between UCL and the wider world in the near future. Watch this space – and watch out for Creating Connections 3.

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