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Making a difference through events

Events Students
Dr Rachael Ironside, course leader for Events Management, writes how our students have brought communities closer together while making a difference and raising much needed funds for local charities.

I am often asked what is special about our Event Management course - what makes us different? It’s easy at this point to start rattling off statistics around student satisfaction rates, or employment figures. However, more recently my perspective has changed and I realise that actually what is special about our Events Management course is not necessarily what we do for our students, but what they do as part of our community. What makes me proud of our course? It is simply that I can state that when our students graduate, they leave us being able to say that they have genuinely “made a difference”.

This could not be more poignant than now. As our incredible students across health care professions are involved in front line efforts to assist with Covid-19, our event students have also been working hard to contribute, in their own way, to help our local community.

The events management course has a history of working with the third sector. Each year, our students work with charities to deliver a festival and a large fundraising event as part of their course. In the last 7 years, these activities have resulted in over £175k being raised for a variety of charities across the North East of Scotland.

Working with the third sector has provided wide ranging benefits for our students and wider communities; raising important charitable funds, connecting people, showcasing worthy causes, and importantly building relationships and learning opportunities for all involved. We are incredibly fortunate to work with mentors from the third sector each year who bring to the programme a wealth of experience and enthusiasm to pass on to our students. The relationships built between our charity mentors, students and staff is a highlight of the course each year, and indeed many of our students continue these relationships as they enter the third sector on graduation.

This year, our students faced unprecedented challenges in moving their live fundraising events, to digital events, in a matter of weeks. Last weekend, we hosted the first digital, Aberdeen Student Festival. We couldn’t be prouder of what the students have achieved. By working together, they hosted a weekend of innovative online events including live music performances, an art gallery, a gin tasting afternoon, a night “in” at the races and an online baking competition. Each event also showcased the culture and community of the North East showcasing local talent, history, and culture. Over the weekend their online festival reached over 8000 engagements, and they raised a total of just over £1360 for two local charities, Riding for the Disabled Aberdeen and the Aberdeen Art Gallery and Development Trust.

It has been humbling to see the community connections and spirit that we aim to foster on our course mobilised by staff and students. I have no doubt that the funds raised will benefit the charities, but at a time of social distancing their events have also brought communities a little closer together, and in their own way “made a difference”.

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