London Met's Civic and Community Engagement Development Officer, Lucy Li, discusses the importance and highlights of the London Met Lab initiative.
Can you introduce yourself and what you do?
My name is Lucy Li and I'm the Civic and Community Engagement Development Officer who's part of the London Engagement team at London Met. My role involves working on the university's civic and community initiative, London Met Lab: Empowering London, to develop projects and maintain relationships with local organisations and authorities that would tackle the challenges facing London. Before this role, I used to be part of the Work Based Learning Team where I supported students with finding suitable placement opportunities for their work-based learning modules.
What does 'Empowering London' mean to you?
For me, "Empowering London" means to find the underlying cause of societal issues in London and working with the community to confront them head-on. The six main areas that we focus on for the London Met Lab are crime, environment/sustainability, social wealth, poverty, health, and discrimination. These issues affect so many demographic groups and it is only through addressing these issues that we can truly make London a better place for all of its residents. Our academics and students both take part in projects and activities that actively target these current challenges.
Why is it good for students to engage with their local communities? Why is it good for communities to engage with students?
It's good for students to engage with their local communities so they can learn about the real issues that are affecting people, apply what they've learned in school, gain work experience if they are doing placements with their local organisations, and also make valuable connections along the way that would benefit them in the future. In return, communities are able to get fresh perspectives from students and also creative ideas that they can bring to the table. For our Empowering London work placement module, students work with not-for-profit local organisations and many charities have benefited from their support with community projects and initiatives.
What are some of the highlights you've seen since working in the London Met Lab?
In the past one and a half years, I've seen a lot of incredible work that has taken place. Some of these highlights include our academics producing research on barriers that are affecting BAME groups from obtaining employment, the launch of a research report and exhibition on the experiences of LGBTQIA+ residents in Lambeth during Covid, partnership with the NHS to address vaccine hesitancy in London, the London Met becoming a founder member of the Islington Anchor Institution Network to help boost the local economy, and many more. We have also just won a £5 million research funding to help address health inequalities in Tower Hamlets.