Putting people at the heart of the community – meet the team behind Global Plymouth

“We’re absolutely grounded in the community, and welcome anyone from any background or organisation. Diversity is our strength – and it’s amazing to learn with and from each other.”

Students and staff at the University of Plymouth are celebrating an initiative set up to bring students, local organisations and the community closer together.

Known as Global Plymouth, the group is designed to help people learn with, from and about each other, and will be attending the Freedom Community Festival from Saturday 28 – Sunday 29 May.

Originally set up to link international students with the local community, Global Plymouth has grown to contain students from home and abroad and a variety of disciplines, as well as the Diversity Business Incubator, the Girls to Women platform, Plymouth Food Bank, and community charity, Well Connected.

Fourth-year dental student, Sneha Lopes, has been instrumental in driving the initiative, having already organised an event celebrating the women and girls of Plymouth attended by the Lord Mayor. See the video showcased at the event.

She said: 

“Whether you have just migrated to this region, or are a local with roots stretching back generations, or anywhere in between, we seek to create a family of friends where everyone is celebrated for their uniqueness.
“I can’t wait for the Freedom Community Festival. Some of our medical and dental students will be bringing along skeletons and anatomy models to talk more about what we do, and a design student will be showcasing her new communication device. In addition we want to hear from people about who they are and what they do – everything we do is about working with, learning from, and celebrating our community. Please come and chat to us if you’re there.”

Dr Poorna Gunasekera, Associate Dean of International in the University’s Faculty of Health, added: 
“This initiative was set up to really help students to thrive, not just survive. In the case of international students, imagine moving to another country and studying in a culture that you don’t necessarily know? That takes a huge amount of character and life experience, and there’s so much that so many of us can learn from that. 
"In addition, people from the city have their own unique experiences and stories to tell. There really is no criteria for joining and attending events – we are a community of nations, let’s make this a magical place.” 

<p>Dr Poorna Gunasekera<br></p>
Wendy Smith MBE, Strategic Lead for Community Engagement at Well Connected, who got involved thanks to the links with the University’s health curricula, added: 
“Sneha’s interpersonal skills in getting this off the ground have been second to none. While community engagement is an important part of the University’s medical and dental curricula, she’s doing this work on top of that, which is incredible.”
Dr Lisa Bunn, Associate Head of the University’s School of Health Professions and part of Global Plymouth, said: 
“Global Plymouth might be led by the University, but it doesn’t feel that way. We’re absolutely grounded in the community, and welcome anyone from any background or organisation, it’s all about mutual empowerment. Diversity is our strength – and it’s amazing to learn with and from each other.”