SEED Making a Difference Work in Progress: PGR FunDay

FunDay 5

In addition to our formal awards (see SEED Makes a Difference!) many other colleagues were recognised by the University’s Social Responsibility team.  These are fantastic  projects that were highly commended by the committee for having emerging impact and great potential. It was a particular pleasure that the panel recognised the positive social impact work of some of our SEED students.

Khairul Farhah Khairuddin (Fafa) and Harry Radzuan, both postgraduate researchers (PGRs, also known as PhD Students) in the Manchester Institute of Education and Planning and Environmental Management were commended for their Outstanding contribution to equality, diversity and inclusion for their FunDay for PGRs.

The primary objective of FunDay, which ran in 2017 and 2018, was to create a sense of belonging to overcome the loneliness and segregation of PGRs throughout their study, as reported by the PGR Reps. The teambuilding event also provides a platform for interaction and networking with people from different background and cultural differences. The FunDay was held with the intention to provide a platform for the community in SEED to network, build rapport while promoting the development of an inclusive society in an informal, fun and safe environment.

This was done through a few group activities (treasure hunt, games, quiz) around the campus which enforced student and staff partnership, strengthened their general knowledge about the University, School and admin personnel, while at the same time de-stressed from work.

After FunDay, Fafa and Harry gauged feedback from the participants to see how the event has made a difference to them. Their evaluation made it clear that FunDay greatly enhanced the learning experience for the diverse colleagues across SEED in various areas:

Rapport building: “I had a really good time out of work and think it’s nice that the school tries to organise such events to bond PGRs.” Asma, GDI

Engaging people with different abilities: “Despite being 7 months pregnant at the time I was able to take part in the event” – Heather, MIE

De-stress from work and freshen up for better: “Working together in an activity allowed students from across the different departments within the School to come together, get to know each other, de-stress from PhD life and have some fun.” Hairul, Planning

Positivity in life: “I learned to be positive even when struck with bad situations” Yin, MIE

Dr. Steve Jones, Director of Postgraduate Research commended FunDay saying:

“The event was entirely student-led, and brought together PGR communities from across disciplines in SEED. Given that PhD writing is known to be a solitary activity, it was great to see such wide participation. Multiple nationalities and ethnicities were represented. Fafa and Harry did a terrific job of organising the event, and their efforts were clearly appreciated by all who attended.”

Below is a link to their FunDay page:


Making a Difference Award: work in progress…The Rainy City

In addition to our formal awards (see SEED Makes a Difference!) many other colleagues were recognised by the University’s Social Responsibility team.  These are fantastic  projects that were highly commended by the committee for having emerging impact and great potential.  It was a particular pleasure that the panel recognised the positive social impact work of some of our SEED students.

Joseph McCarty, a student of the Manchester Institute of Education’s Management, Leadership and Leisure programme was commended for his social innovation, The Rainy City

Joseph Rainy City
Joseph’s ‘Rainy City’ alter ego, ‘borrowed’ from

As a Mancunian born and bred, Joseph often found himself to be the ‘one stop shop’ for advice for arriving students, particularly international students, about where was good to eat, where to buy items, even where to have a good hair cut. Joseph set up ‘Rainy City’ which he described as ‘a one stop shop for all things Manchester for the student new to the city, the tourist here for the highlights and the local who just wants more’.  Since launch, the project has gathered a following of over 2,300 people across the social media platforms Facebook and Instagram; amongst those, a vast number of international students from universities across Greater Manchester. These are individuals who are in an entirely new country, with no bearings, no family, few or zero friends, and no idea where to start. Site users said:

I came here last year and didn’t know anything about Manchester other than the university. As an international student The Rainy City has been absolutely amazing, introducing me to so many cool things and places and has only helped strengthen my relationship with my now girlfriend! 

Adrienne Kuster, UoM International student.

The project has become a source of unofficial, unaffiliated and unpaid marketing and advertisement for the independent business’s within Manchester, whilst also establishing a reputation as an online entity that people trust, and keep coming back to again and again, to discover more and more of The Rainy City.

The Rainy City is Manchester’s best blog by a mile. Mixing top photos, slick text & a splash of humanity; the events and locations show that they care about supporting the great indies of Manchester, not just writing about every flashy opening”

Jason Bailey, Director of GRUB MCR LTD.

Follow The Rainy City on Facebook Instagram or Twitter to hear about all good things happening in our glorious Manchester.


SEED Makes a Difference!


The incredible work of many SEED colleagues was formally recognised this year at University award ceremonies.  At the Making a Difference Awards SEED took home six (six!) awards and a further four certificates of commendation. At the Venture Further Awards Seyedehsomayeh Taheri Moosavi and team won for their research that tackles fuel poverty with artificial intelligence techniques and blockchain technology.  Read about all of the awards below:

Professor Neil Humphry and team won the category of Outstanding Benefit to Society through Research for their work with HeadStart, a National Lottery initiative that aims to improve young people’s mental health. They have embarked upon a groundbreaking research project to provide significant new insights into mental health that are already shaping policy and practice. Hear more about their work here:


Dr. Sarah M. Hall won the award for Outstanding Benefit to Society through Research (Emerging Impact) for her work to better understand and communicate living in austerity in Manchester. You can read more about the project and Sarah’s exhibition here See more about Sarah’s award here:


Dr. Jonny Huck won the Outstanding Contribution to Social Innovation for his project #Huckathon which was an open street mapping project welcoming over 100 normal people to use GIS to find hidden homes in previously war torn Uganda so that emergency teams could deliver medical care.


Caroline Boyd and Chris Jordan collected an award of high commendation in the Outstanding public and community engagement initiative (local community) category for Be//Longing.  BE//LONGING is a thought-provoking, immersive, multi-media theatre production, developed by award-winning political theatre collective Take Back (Julie Hesmondhalgh, Becx Harrison and Grant Archer), in partnership with The University of Manchester and Hope Mill Theatre, using installations, music, art, video and scripted theatre to create an experience that boldly addresses perceptions of migration and exposes myths.


Craig Thomas, Jana Wendler and Rachele Evaroa were  highly commended within the Outstanding Public Engagement Initiative: Local for their STEAM hub in a pub hosted at the Old Abbey Taphouse on the Manchester Science Park20180501_182950

Dr. Seyedehsomayeh Taheri Moosa and team were highly commended in the “Outstanding contribution to social innovation” category for their research into tackling fuel poverty with artificial intelligence techniques and blockchain technology.
UrbanChain is a University of Manchester Start-up company developed to reduce the cost of utility services for vulnerable households in the UK and worldwide. They are developing a blockchain platform for the energy market to enable peer-to-peer trading of electricity between energy producers and vulnerable households. William Woof (pictured below) collected the award on behalf of the team – a team that went on to win first place in the Venture Further Awards.




SEEDSR Random Acts of Appreciation


Every year we hold a small celebration for SEED staff and students who have been recognised, formally or otherwise, for their great work that contributes to Social Responsibility.  This year it was impossible to recognise the fantastic work of all our colleagues in one event – considering that we have over 250 volunteers alone! Instead, over summer and into September, SEED is delivering ‘Random Acts of Appreciation’, to reward, recognise and inspire.

Our #SEEDSR reusable coffee cups and SEED seeds (see what we did there) speak to our commitment to sustainability, in part through our Sustainability Champions, just small tokens of appreciation to our colleagues and friends who do so much to make a difference.

We like seeing #SEEDSR on the road!  If you receive one of our mugs or plant pots please Tweet a photo to #SEEDSR and @jenrobrien. Fabulous prizes to be won – although Rosie, Williams, our Head of School Administration, may be in the lead with her morning brew at Greenman Festival:

Rosie's mug at Greenman Festival
#SEEDSR at the Greenman Festival 2018 with Rosie Williams, SEED HOSA

This blog details just some of the great things that have been happening in SEED over the last year, or so, showcasing some fantastic people.  If you would like to add your story, or discuss developing ideas, drop me a line:

School Outreach: Wonders of the Ice Age delivered by Professor Jamie Woodward, Geography.

On 28th March Professor Jamie Woodward, Head of Geography, gave the annual Bexwyke Lecture with the theme of ‘Wonders of The Ice Age’at The Manchester Grammar School (MGS). Year 4 and 5 pupils from ten schools across Manchester came to MGS to participate in a series of workshops then attended Jamie’s lecture.

Woodward school outreach 2


Jamie is the author of The Ice Age: A Very Short Introduction in the best-selling series published by Oxford University Press. His research explores landscape change over thousands of years and considers how humans have coped with changing environments. Jamie is a Trustee and Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.

Before Jamie’s lecture, attending pupils were invited to compete in MGS’s prize winning challenge, which was to write a poem inspired by the Ice Age, whether it be about the Ice Age itself, or simply inspired by the theme of ice and snow. Jamie had the tough task of judging the entries and presented a prize to the winner at the end of his lecture.

Over 400 pupils then listened to Jamie’s discussion about the Wonders of the Ice Age. 


MGS conveyed their thanks to Jamie for presenting a very interesting and informative talk to a packed Memorial Hall.  They also offered their thanks to Mrs. Barnett (MGS) for organising, along with participating Junior and Senior school staff for ensuring a fun and fascinating day was had by all.

A further write up of the event is available at: .  Details will also be published in the School of Environment, Education and Development (University of Manchester) newsletter.


Welcome to the #SEEDSR Blog

Welcome to the personal blog of #SEEDSR Director, Jen O’Brien.

#SEEDSR speaks the way that SEED is making a positive contribution to the world around us through our research, our teaching and our public engagement activities – and there are some fantastic things happening in the world of Social Responsibility (SR) in SEED.

This site will showcase SEED SR achievements, advertise opportunities, share ideas and hopefully network like minded colleagues across the SEED community. The SEED community stems across our estates colleagues, our professional support services, our alumni, our students (undergraduate through to postgraduate research), our academics, our teachers and our researchers.

I also hope to give you some insight into what I do as the Director of Social Responsibility and how that feeds into my role in the operation of SEED. I am a teaching and scholarship academic who has not long returned from maternity leave as the proud, full time working mum of my wonderful Jasmine.  As (only) a Lecturer, my application to the SR Director post was a ‘flier’, and a massively steep learning curve into the world of university management.  I am really proud to serve on the senior leadership team of the School and endeavour to work in a transparent, equitable and respectful manner.  I’d like to think that I have an insight into the pressures of the academy, especially for early career staff and women in particular. 

If you would like to feature your work, or your story, on these pages or discuss anything #SEEDSR related please get in touch: