Seventeen inspiring students from across Cumbria and North Lancashire have begun a personal challenge to become community leaders through a unique degree course.

Aged between 19 and 32-years-old, and with little or no previous experience of further education, they start their three year Aspiring Leaders Programme with a week long Lake District residential course here at Brathay Trust. Team building activities, problem solving tasks and a university induction are some of the activities taking place.

Brathay’s Andy Woodhead, who will be working with the students, said:

"They are all passionate about making a difference in their communities and are already working for youth clubs, housing associations, charities looking after the elderly, and as Police community support officers. Many don’t believe they have the ability to study at university and certainly don’t have the financial means to do that. Not only are their course fees covered, and other basics, but they get a great package of support that includes personal and professional development. It is a very unique programme that will allow them to grow as role models and leaders.”

The students will combine charity work with personal development and study as they aim to graduate with a BSc (Hons) degree in Social Enterprise Leadership from the University of Cumbria. It is the first degree created and delivered by a dynamic partnership involving a personal development charity, a university and a private funder all of whom are committed to investing in their local community.

Primarily funded by the Francis C Scott Charitable Trust, students get extra support made possible from financial input from Langdale Owners Club, Sir John Fisher Foundation and Rathbones. The programme is run by the university, us and Common Purpose.

This is the third three year programme to run as its backers make a long term investment to uncover, nurture and help talented young adults from within the most deprived communities in Cumbria and North Lancashire become their community heroes.