Leeds students teach life-changing skills in South Africa

Global news

A team of students and staff from the University of Leeds and Leeds Trinity University are helping children in South Africa to travel to school safely.

Children in the Eshowe region, around 90 minutes from Leeds’ twin city Durban, often walk an hour or more on dangerous roads to get to school. The team is creating a bike hub and teaching children to cycle in rural areas so they can get to school safely and quickly.

Learning to cycle is a life-changing skill, which is being taught through an international volunteering scheme known as Gryphons Abroad. The programme involves students and staff travelling to South Africa each summer in partnership with the Bambisanani Partnership, a charity based in Menston, near Leeds.

Through the University of Leeds Turing Scheme, all students can apply for a cost-of-living grant. Those students from under-represented groups can apply for additional funds to cover the cost of the travel.

The Turing Scheme, the UK’s global programme for studying and working abroad, offers students opportunities to develop both personally and professionally. The government-funded scheme shares out a pot of more than £105 million to universities, colleges and schools across the country to which students can apply.

This is another fantastic opportunity to gain some amazing experience and prepare myself for my career post University.”

Connor Bull, University of Leeds Sports Science student

The teams from Leeds work with KZN Cycling to set up the cycling hubs – shipping containers that house bikes and bike maintenance equipment.

South African youngsters learn to repair bikes

Andrew Lockwood, Assistant Head of Sport at the University of Leeds, and trustee of the Bambisanani Partnership, said: “The new partnerships which have been developed during Covid will help us to expand on our previous reach. A cycling hub like this, run by the community, for the community, is development at its best.”

Dr Chris Rowley, Deputy Head of the School of Psychology at Leeds Trinity University and Project Lead for the Bambisanani Partnership, said: “It is amazing to see students and staff from both universities returning to the region this summer following the unavoidable disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. We believe the project will continue to have a positive impact and benefit for both UK and South African students alike.”

Team member Connor Bull, a final year Sports Science student, said: “I have volunteered with various programmes throughout my studies at Leeds, all in the UK. This is another fantastic opportunity to gain some amazing experience and prepare myself for my career post University. I’m looking forward to the challenge and I can’t wait to get started.”

The other members of the team include University of Leeds students Lucy Hughes, Rhiannah McCourt, Ellen Slack and Rachel Barton with Chris Lewis from Leeds Trinity University. Alongside Andrew Lockwood from the University of Leeds are Suzzi Garnett and Lauren Havercroft. They are joined in South Africa by Ammarah Pandor from Leeds Trinity University.

The team has been training and fundraising for nine months to support the project.

Further information

For further information contact Jane Lewis, Corporate Communications Officer, or the University of Leeds press office.