National Saturday Club & Manchester Metropolitan University’s ‘Society and Change Club’

By Dr. Marie Molloy (Senior Lecturer in US History and Academic Lead for the club)

In February 2023, the History, Politics and Philosophy Department launched its Society and Change Saturday Club for the second consecutive year in collaboration with the National Saturday Club, a nationwide organisation that enables schoolchildren aged 13-16-years-old to attend a range of Saturday clubs across the UK for free on a Saturday! This builds on our successful pilot club that started in February 2022, as one of only two pilot clubs in the UK.

In 2022, we had two key themes: Race and Racism and Mental Wellbeing. One of our club tutors, Nathan Atherton, was completing a PhD in well-being and green spaces and he designed an innovative programme that connected present day issues regarding young people’s mental health (especially post-pandemic) with the past.  This included trying recipes from the Victorian era that were designed to appeal to the five senses, and to balance the body and mind. We had a class trip to the local allotment and learnt about green spaces, food, and well-being in a city space, that the club members loved. This inspired students to design their own garden and to share these with the group.

Cameron Mitchell, our second MMU club tutor designed the second half of the club, on Race and Racism. This included guest speakers Ameen Hadi from Stand Up to Racism; SuAndi, a mixed race poet from Manchester, who spoke to club members about her life and poetry. We had a ‘hands on’ session at the Race Relations Centre in Manchester and learnt about archives that were centred on the global majority. Tunde Adekoya from Big Music Company, Manchester talked to the students about the 5th Pan African Congress in Manchester in 1945, and the students had an interactive session about Pan Africanism today.  Finally, we learnt about the connection between Manchester and bees, and the club designed their own colourful beehives.

Many of our club members have returned to club again this year, a testament to the club’s success.  The theme of this year’s club is Race, Racism, and Immigration, and we have had some fascinating interactive sessions already from Haseeb Khan (MMU) on history and podcasting; and race and videogames from Dr. Jenny Cromwell (MMU). We had an incredible visit to the Mines Advisory Group in Manchester and learnt about the devastation caused by land mines across the world; this included being shown PPE equipment and land mines that had been demined.  One club member noted “the trip was amazing”. Club members created their own fundraising Tik Tok with Haseeb Khan to advertise a planned fundraising event in June 2023 for MAG.  Finally, we have several trips planned to local museums in Liverpool and Manchester next month.

One of the highlights of the National Saturday Club each year is the Summer Showcase, as it is an opportunity for club members to travel down to London, and to see their work exhibited at Somerset House. This is a valuable and ‘confidence boosting’ experience for our club members and staff. Last year, we travelled to London on the Jubilee weekend, and this made the trip even more exciting, as we saw London emblazoned with Union Jack flags. We were all very proud to see our club members go up on to the stage to receive their certificates.

The National Saturday Club model has enabled our own Man Met university students (at undergraduate, MA, and PhD level) to have the opportunity to co-design, facilitate and lead on a wonderful programme for young people, and in doing so, this empowered them as they gained valuable experience outside of the degree programmes.  


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