Home News Four students investigating housing issues and the cost of living receive grant funding

Lauren Aronin

Lauren is the Communications Officer at Commonweal Housing

Four students investigating housing issues and the cost of living receive grant funding

Four final-year students from the University of Birmingham have been awarded grant funding as part of Commonweal Housing’s Jane Slowey Memorial Bursary to conduct their dissertation research on important housing and social policy issues.

The successful 2023/24 recipients are Alice Munson, Jessica Nsana, Ellie Ward and Olivia Glenny. Each student received a grant of £2,500 to support their final year dissertation projects, alongside informal mentoring support from Commonweal throughout their last year of undergraduate study.

In 2018, the Bursary was set up in memory of Commonweal Trustee and Birmingham University alumni Jane Slowey CBE, who sadly passed away in 2017.

Throughout her life, Slowey held many senior positions within the charity and third sector and was an active campaigner against social injustices. Slowey, who received an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Birmingham in 2014, also played a vital role in bringing Commonweal’s vision and ethos to life during her time as Trustee.

To honour her incredible work, the Bursary is open to students at Birmingham University’s School of Social Policy whose final-year dissertation project focuses on issues around housing, social injustice and young people.

Alice Munson, who is studying Policy, Politics and Economics, seeks to examine the Homes for Ukraine scheme set up by the UK Government to encourage members of the public to host Ukrainian refugees in their homes. In particular, she aims to understand the experiences of Ukrainians living in the UK after the initial six-month period of the Homes for Ukraine scheme ended.

Alice Munson said: “Thanks to the Jane Slowey Bursary, I can now focus on my final year studies without the stress of excessive part-time work. The Bursary has provided me with the financial resources and valuable contacts to conduct primary research. Moreover, the mentoring opportunity offered by Commonweal Housing is a significant advantage, allowing me to gain valuable insights from experienced professionals in the field.”

Social and Criminology student Jessica Nsana, is provisionally set to explore whether the experience of living in rented housing has more of an adverse effect on young people from black and minority ethnic groups in comparison to their white counterparts.

Jessica Nsana said: “I am grateful for the Jane Slowey Bursary as it will allow me to travel to some of the areas in England in which the people I plan to interview are from and get a sense of the community within those areas, investigate the schools as well as job prospects to get a better understanding of the long-term effects. As well as this, I would use the Bursary towards the costs of my own rented accommodation which would allow me more time to dedicate to my dissertation research.”

Ellie Ward, a Sociology and Social Policy undergraduate, intends to conduct research into the impact of the cost of living crisis in the UK on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) young adults aged between 18 – 25 living in the West Midlands region.

Ellie Ward said: “This Bursary will ease my financial pressure, so that I can decrease my part-time job hours to fully focus on creating a dissertation that I think is important and worthwhile.”

The fourth and final recipient, Social Policy and Sociology undergraduate Olivia Glenny, aims to undertake a literature review examining Grenfell Tower in London.

Olivia Glenny said: “Receiving the Bursary is a great help to me as I would normally be working part-time in the semester but with the Bursary, I don’t have to think about this as I now have this backup funding. I’m really grateful for this opportunity!”

This year marks the sixth iteration of the Jane Slowey Memorial Bursary, with Commonweal continuing to offer the Bursary to students at the University of Birmingham for a further ten years. The 2023/24 Bursary recipients will present their research findings to Commonweal staff and Trustees at a celebration event in Summer 2024.

Ashley HorseyChief Executive at Commonweal Housing, said: “Commonweal Housing is pleased to support the latest recipient of the Jane Slowey Memorial Bursary, enabling students to conduct in-depth research for their dissertation and deliver insightful and thought-provoking findings on critical areas of social policy.”

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