Partnerships and outreach projects

We are the Connected University. We’re connected to the needs of our students, to business and to society.

For many years, we have been developing highly participatory projects that make a real difference in the communities of Stoke-on-Trent and beyond. This has involved collaborations with a wide range of individuals and organisations. Our Connected Communities Framework outlines our vision to further strengthen our civic role.

Our projects enable us to form alliances and strategic partnerships across sectors such as NHS, local governments, businesses, policing, and education - to name just a few. They aim to solve real world problems, create change and have a positive impact on society and national policy. One of our key drivers is to develop and share expertise through knowledge exchange. 

DRIVER: Data responsive initiatives as a vehicle for achieving equality in results


Staffordshire University is participating in an initiative to understand the barriers to student engagement and achievement.

The project is being funded through the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE).

Coventry University is lead partner in a collaboration with four universities, each working with a partner college.

Project summary

Staffordshire University is working with Stoke-on-Trent College, focusing on BTEC students transitioning to higher education. Students from disadvantaged backgrounds (e.g. BME, commuter, mature and low socio-economic backgrounds) are highly represented yet less likely to achieve a good degree.

DRIVER uses a series of targeted interventions and initiatives to encourage learning conversations between staff and students. The analysis of factors affecting student success is helping to identify actions and support to benefit all students within the University and drive institutional change at all levels.

Our four key areas of work are:

  • Transition – from college to university
  • Wellbeing
  • Study skills
  • Coaching and mentoring for tutors


This work will contribute to a national model for the sharing of learning and good practice to combat inequality in learning and achievement.

At Staffordshire University, legacy activities will continue such as coaching and mentoring for staff, mental health and wellbeing resources and money management support. The initiatives are open to all staff and students.

How can I get involved?

Mandy Welch, Head of Project Delivery
Tel: +44 1782 294881


Project summary

People with learning disabilities have conducted research that will improve access to art and culture. Supported by Staffordshire University, who provided training and assistance, our peer researchers visited different services across the city to run focus groups and undertake interviews. Findings were discussed in group sessions and recommendations agreed.


The work formed part of Stoke-on-Trent’s bid to be City of Culture 2021. A participatory approach was taken to learn about how cultural sector organisations can improve access to art and culture for people with learning disabilities.

Connections made with cultural and voluntary organisations have established long-term relationships with the University as a trusted partner for community engagement and participation expertise.


The research by participants has been used to make recommendations to services across Staffordshire. We’ve run a workshop with our participants for the cultural sector and made recommendations to our local MP. The group has representation on The Accessibility Forum.

One of the key findings was the difficulty of the language used at some venues. Stoke-on-Trent City Council said they would consider communication across some of its services.

How can I get involved?

To find out more about the Reach project and its outcomes, please contact Nicola Gratton at Staffordshire University.

Tel: 01782 292751

Vintage Volunteers

Project summary

Volunteering can make a difference to older people, especially those who feel isolated or vulnerable. It can develop a new sense of purpose with health and wellbeing benefits. However, for many, volunteering remains inaccessible.

Research has been undertaken to find out the barriers to volunteering for the over 60s. This was peer research, with training being provided by Staffordshire University to community participants, mostly over 55, to conduct the research.


Vintage Volunteers is a VAST project. VAST is a charity dedicated to developing, advancing and promoting the voluntary and community sector in Staffordshire. Vintage Volunteers match individuals who are over 60 to their dream volunteering opportunity.

We have supported a team of community researchers to conduct research which helps organisations to understand the needs of volunteers over the age of 60.


Following the research, we have made recommendations to organisations on how to better recruit and train people as volunteers and looked at ways to make volunteering easier and more inclusive.

Participants had the opportunity to gain a recognised qualification in community consultation which can support work or career prospects.

You can find out more about the findings of the project in the Improving Volunteering Opportunities for People Over 60 final report.

How can I get involved?

If you’re interested in a volunteering opportunity or an organisation looking for volunteers – contact VAST on 0300 303 8606 or visit the Vintage Volunteers website.

If you’d like to help conduct our research, with full training provided, please contact Nicola Gratton at Staffordshire University.

Tel: 01782 292751

Get Talking Hardship

Project summary

Staffordshire University was commissioned by the Hardship Commission and funded by Voices and the Big Lottery Fund to conduct a participatory action research project on hardship.  The aim of the project was to understand the impact of hardship and poverty in Stoke-on-Trent and make recommendations for actions for positive change.

We recruited a team of Community Researchers, including people with experience of hardship themselves, frontline service staff, students and residents.

The research culminated in a workshop, attended by 80 people, a further dissemination event in July 2019 and a report.


The research was for the Hardship Commission in Stoke-on-Trent. This is an independent group of decision makers and leaders who believe that poverty will only be addressed when the local people who experience it are at the heart of the process for change. The Commission is chaired by the Rt Rev Geoff Annas, Bishop of Stafford.

We were working alongside many partners already working with people in hardship including Foodbank, YMCA and Brighter Futures.


The findings from the research will inform the Hardship Commission’s 5 year plan and have provided a model for how local people will be involved in action planning to combat hardship in Stoke-on-Trent.

You can discover more about the project’s outcomes in the Get Talking Hardship final report (PDF file, 2.37 MB)

How can I get involved?

To join the hardship community research team please contact Nicola Gratton at Staffordshire University.

Tel: 01782 292751


UK University

StudentCrowd University Awards 2022

for Job Prospects

StudentCrowd University Awards 2022

for Student Satisfaction

Complete University Guide 2022

for Social Inclusion

The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2023

for Course Content

StudentCrowd University Awards 2022

of Research Impact is ‘Outstanding’ or ‘Very Considerable’

Research Excellence Framework 2021