An update on social justice from Newcastle University

Newcastle University is committed to working with its partners to create a fairer and more just society. In this guest blog, Professor Peter Hopkins, Dean of Social Justice shares an update on local activities taking place to help further that aim.

Social justice is about addressing the unfair outcomes that result from the coming together of social inequalities and institutions. We have established a Social Justice Advisory Group so we can work together on key social justice issues. This group, which meets quarterly, includes members from the voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) sector and local authorities and as part of its initial work, it has identified and agreed some principles regarding the relationship between the university and the VCSE sector. Discussions have focused on key themes including poverty, gender equality, migration and asylum, and Brexit.

We remain committed to our relationship as a founding and strategic partner of Tyne and Wear Citizens, with colleagues from across the university having been working in partnership with the organisation to address issues relating to poverty, mental health and safer cities.

Our Social Justice Fund has been designed to support Newcastle University's social justice work as part of the university's Engagement and Place Strategy. Funded projects focus on key issues and take a long-term view to enhance collaboration between Newcastle University and VCSE partners through the development of meaningful and mutually beneficial relationships.

More broadly, the university’s Deans of Social Justice and Equality, Diversity and Inclusion have established a Sanctuary Scholarship scheme for potential students from asylum-seeking or refugee backgrounds who want to progress to higher level study. Both meetings of the Social Justice Forum have brought university colleagues working on asylum and refugee issues, together with people from the refugee community, to share research, policy and practice; both sessions have been positively received. 

We now host the North East Child Poverty Commission and have been paying the real living wage to all our employees since August this year, bringing an uplift in pay to nearly 700 colleagues.

Going forward, there is also a fascinating programme of events on various global social justice issues to celebrate the opening of the Frederick Douglass Centre. Find out more about all the projects mentioned on the Newcastle University website.