The Community Research Awards pair academics from Plymouth University with charities, social enterprises and voluntary organisations in order to tackle specific issues and problems. The awards, now in their fourth year, are the only ones of their kind in the UK higher education sector, and see the University pledge £50,000 and hundreds of staff hours, to create community and societal benefit. The standard of application is high and six projects were chosen to go forward this year.
RIO uses social enterprise to create learning and work opportunities for young people and adults in Plymouth. Professionalised volunteering plays a vital part in RIOís business model, helping to connect its business units to the wider community. Focusing on Devonport Guildhall, which as part of RIO offers training, events and music performances, the research project will determine how and to what extent student volunteering benefits community organisations, the wider community, the University, and students themselves in terms of employability and skills. This important piece of research will inform RIO on how to expand their volunteering set and broker to a wider range of organisations and will be of national interest in terms of employability and the Big Society agenda.