Grenfell soil study puts UCLan in running for education Oscar

Anna StecAnna Stec
Anna Stec
Exposing 'contaminated soil' around Grenfell Tower to work with refugees in Greece is paying dividends for Lancashire researchers.

Both projects have caught the eye of judges and made it onto the shortlist for the prestigious Times Higher Education (THE) Awards, dubbed the "Oscars" of the education world.

Research exposing 'contaminated soil' around Grenfell Tower has been shortlisted for Research Project of the Year (STEM), while a joint project working with refugees on the Greek island of Lesvos is a contender for International Collaboration of the Year gong.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The Grenfell study, which uncovered significant contamination by carcinogenic fire residues in soil surrounding the tower block , was run by UCLan's Professor of Fire Chemistry and Toxicity Anna Stec.

It led to her giving evidence to the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee and resulted in subsequent government recommendations, including health screening for the local population and firefighters working in the area on the night of the fire.

Anna said: "I have worked hard to make sure that serious long-term health risks caused by the Grenfell Tower Fire aren’t ignored and additional screenings are put in place.

"I am delighted to be shortlisted for a THE Award."

The second nomination officially recognises UCLan's work to support the thousands of child refugees living on the island of Lesvos.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Its ‘Letters from Lesvos’ project, was led by Professor Ali Melling MBE, who is director of the Centre for Volunteering and Community Leadership.

Dr Melling and her team worked with The UN Refugee Agency, the University of the Aegean, Metadrasi – Action for Migration and Development and other NGOs to give a voice to children fleeing conflict or persecution.

They did this through art projects, peer support and a planned e-book sharing dialogue between Metadrasi, asylum-seeking children, and children from partner school Marsden Heights Community College in Brierfield, near the Burnley campus.

Prof Melling said: "Through the Letters to Lesvos project, we wanted to create a welcoming environment for refugees and asylum seekers and importantly give vulnerable children a voice to share their experiences with the outside world.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"All the children we worked with had undertaken perilous journeys and experienced significant trauma before their arrival on Lesvos, so it is important that their stories are told. "

She said a planned e-book will be published to inform other children, policymakers and strategists about the realities of life as an unaccompanied child asylum seeker.

Prof Melling added: "To see the project shortlisted for the International Collaboration of the Year Award reinforces its significance."

Despite the pandemic, hundreds of entries still came in from allover the UK.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

THE editor John Gill said: “This has been a year like no other, and universities have faced unprecedented challenges as a result of the pandemic.

“While we are by no means through the crisis, the response over the last six months has been immensely impressive, and served yet again as a reminder of the dedication and commitment that exists across UK higher education."

Winners will be announced at a virtual awards ceremony on November 26..

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.