Launched in 2019, King’s Civic Challenge brings together teams of students, staff and local charities to work together to co-create solutions to some of the challenges our communities face.

In this edition of InTouch Online, we shine the spotlight on a few King’s alumni who got involved in the scheme and its wider impact on society.

The Civic Challenge was designed to enable the King’s community to develop fresh perspectives on local issues. After a successful pilot in 2019–20, the challenge returned in 2020–21. Over 120 students and staff teamed up with 21 charities, community groups and community interest companies from across the King’s home boroughs of Lambeth, Southwark and Westminster.

Each team worked with a coach from the King’s alumni community, each sharing their professional experience and expertise to develop a proposal to tackle issues such as social isolation, the digital divide, poor mental health and food insecurity.

At a grand final in April, teams virtually pitched their ideas to a panel of judges for the chance to win funding and support to put their ideas into practice.

This year, King’s awarded nine Civic Challenge awards of £5,000 each, plus additional coaching and evaluation support.

The winners in their respective categories this year are: Age UK Westminster – Health and Wellbeing; ARCS – Education and Attainment; Caxton Youth Organisation – Business and Enterprise; The Soul Shack LDN CIC – Community Resilience; The Dot Collective – Arts and Health; Restorative Justice for All – UN SDG 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions; Borough Food Cooperative – UN SDG 2: Food Hunger; Policy Centre for African Peoples – UN SDG 3: Good Health and Wellbeing; and Neurodiversity CIC – UN SDG 10: Reduced Inequalities.

Also this year was a public vote category – the Community Choice. The winner was In-Deep.

You can find out more about each of the winners here.

InTouch Online spoke to a few of our alumni coaches about why they got involved in the scheme.

Emily Berrington (Development Geography, 2008)

Emily Berrington, an actor best known for her roles in Humans and The Inbetweeners 2, supported the team ‘The Dot Collective’.

‘My experiences and opportunities at King’s as a student were so important to me and I’ve loved maintaining a relationship as an alumna. When I discovered there was a way of using that to connect with a brilliant organisation like The Dot, I jumped at the chance. If the last year has taught me anything, it’s that community is everything, and I include the King’s community in that.

‘The Dot Collective uses sensory workshops, storytelling and reminiscence activities to support people living with dementia and their carers. They are developing a project for this community called ‘A Map to You’, which will provide creative activities, connect users with professional writers and actors who will assist in telling their stories, and ultimately assemble a wider community of people living with dementia via an online hub.’

If the last year has taught me anything, it’s that community is everything, and I include the King’s community in that.


Dr Hugh Deighton (PhD Physics, 1985)

Dr Hugh Deighton worked in the space industry on the design and implementation of satellite and rocket data processing systems and got involved in the Civic Challenge with Age UK.

‘I obtained a PhD at King’s and felt that I could give something back by helping young physicists with career choices and generally offering advice. When King’s asked me to become involved with the Civic Challenge, I was interested because it involved working with a team of students to create a proposal for a very worthwhile local project.

‘I chose to help with a project proposal to offer internet access and online communications to older and underprivileged residents of Westminster, who have been left isolated and forgotten during the pandemic.

‘The team consists of four undergraduates of varied backgrounds and studying different courses – they are all very enthusiastic and keen to learn and have quickly grown together as a team, despite being located around the world. These are all skills which will help the students in their later careers and so are not just limited to the Civic Challenge.’

Share this article