Aerial Photography; July 2019

The University for Portsmouth

How we're working with local partners to support Levelling Up in our region

This Civic Partnership Agreement is underpinned by the University of Portsmouth’s vision to become the University for Portsmouth.

Our unique position as a large institution with expertise in research, knowledge services and education, and numerous strong and long-standing partnerships with other key local organisations makes us well placed to work collaboratively in new initiatives and build on what's already being done in the community (e.g. City of Vision) to promote inclusion and enrich the economic, social and cultural life in the city of Portsmouth and surrounding areas.

In the shadow of the global pandemic that's hit our coastal region – with a large tourism and culture industry, existing educational inequalities and a large number of small and medium size enterprises – there's never been a greater need for large local anchor institutions and community organisations to come together with strategic focus on levelling up.

We'll partner for a significant and positive impact on our left behind groups, sectors and areas in our local community. We'll proactively support the needs of our local region, in our areas of mutual strength, in terms of the environment, equality, inclusion and diversity, educational aspiration and attainment, health and wellbeing, workforce capability and prosperity.

Our boundaries will not be limited by geography. We'll be directed by need and our assessment of where we can mobilise our collective expertise and resources, to have the most significant positive impact that will level up within our region and with the rest of the UK.

We, the signatories below, commit to come together to strengthen this remarkable region, of which we're extremely proud to be a part. In order to ensure the success of our work, we commit to:

  • Create a governance structure that ensures our strategic civic contribution has a longevity that goes beyond the membership of any one employee or partner and enables us to collaborate collegially, effectively and efficiently for significant positive impact.
  • Contribute resource in kind, wherever possible.
  • Ensure capacity and legacy is built into projects to ensure that projects can ultimately become self-sustaining and community led.
  • Develop a robust mechanism for self-assessment and public and peer evaluation to ensure that we can be held to account in our civic contribution against key KPIs.
  • Ensure there's a mechanism to consider our civic responsibility in all that we do.


Solent Local Enterprise Partnership logo

Solent Local Enterprise Partnership: Anne-Marie Mountfield (Chief Executive) and Brian Johnson (Chair)

HMS Naval Base logo

HMS Naval Base, Portsmouth: Jeremy Bailey

Portsmouth football club logo

Portsmouth Football Club (PFC): Mark Catlin and Michael Eisner

Portsmouth football club logo

Pompey in the Community: Clare Martin

HIVE Portsmouth logo

HIVE Portsmouth: Louise Wilders and Rev. Bob White (Chair of Trustees)

Shaping portsmouth logo

Shaping Portsmouth: Stef Nienaltowski

Portsmouth city council logo

Portsmouth City Council (PCC): Steve Pitt and David Williams

Portsmouth hospital NHS logo

Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust (PHUT): Penny Emerit

BAE Systems Maritime Services logo

BAE Systems Maritime Services: David Mitchard (Managing Director)

Airbus logo

Airbus Defence and Space: Jo Sawford

Hampshire chamber of commerce logo

Hampshire Chamber of Commerce: Ross McNally

Portsmouth college logo

Portsmouth College: Mike Gaston (Director HSDC) and Penny Wycherley (Chief Executive Designate for the merged Portsmouth and Highbury Colleges) – representing our region's FE colleges

Havant South Downs college logo

Havant and South Downs College: Represented by Mike Gaston (Director HSDC) and Penny Wycherley (Chief Executive Designate for the merged Portsmouth and Highbury Colleges)

Portsmouth Highbury college logo

Portsmouth Highbury College: Represented by Mike Gaston (Director HSDC) and Penny Wycherley (Chief Executive Designate for the merged Portsmouth and Highbury Colleges)

The isle of wight college logo

Isle of Wight College: Represented by Mike Gaston (Director HSDC) and Penny Wycherley (Chief Executive Designate for the merged Portsmouth and Highbury Colleges)

Fareham college logo

Fareham College: Represented by Mike Gaston (Director HSDC) and Penny Wycherley (Chief Executive Designate for the merged Portsmouth and Highbury Colleges)

St. Vincent college logo

St Vincent College: Represented by Mike Gaston (Director HSDC) and Penny Wycherley (Chief Executive Designate for the merged Portsmouth and Highbury Colleges)

Chichester college logo

Chichester College Group: Represented by Mike Gaston (Director HSDC) and Penny Wycherley (Chief Executive Designate for the merged Portsmouth and Highbury Colleges)

Eastleigh college logo

Eastleigh College: Represented by Mike Gaston (Director HSDC) and Penny Wycherley (Chief Executive Designate for the merged Portsmouth and Highbury Colleges)

Six initial priorities

Our initial priorities were identified during 18 months of local stakeholder consultation and public opinion surveying, alongside a consideration of our mutual strengths and current local needs.

Address long-term educational inequality in our region

In particular, we'll focus on the ‘cold spots’ for HE participation and levelling up educational aspiration and attainment in primary and secondary aged children and the exacerbation of this due to the Covid 19 pandemic. This priority is well aligned to that of the Portsmouth City Vision 2040 goal of creating a city of lifelong learning, where our young people are encouraged to develop high, positive aspirations, and are fully invested in making the most of their potential. Our focus will be on working together to understand the local workforce needs of today and the future (e.g. in health and technology sectors) and aligning our work to support our young people to develop aspirations and skills, to enter these sectors.

Partners are already well advanced in initiatives to support this priority. This is illustrated by the University Technical College (UTC) Portsmouth, created by a founding partnership of The University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth City Council, the Royal Navy, BAE Systems, QinetiQ and Salterns Academy Trust. We'll continue to work as part of this and the extended partnership, to ensure that the UTC delivers the best in exciting, stimulating and relevant STEM curriculum for our local young people.

An example of one future focus is the development of a Multi Academy Trust (MAT), an initiative of the University of Portsmouth with partners and local schools to enable school leaders and teachers to combine their knowledge and planning abilities, to work on challenges and solutions together. To create a Governors and trustees structure where experience can be shared to formulate strategic approaches. The STEM-focussed education delivers to the current and developing workforce need of our region in future technologies, and will enable children from our local region to become a part of that workforce.

Portsmouth Literacy Hubs is an example of another very recent initiative of Portsmouth City Council and the University of Portsmouth to support the newly formed charity Portsmouth Literacy Hubs to open their first after school literacy centre for Portsmouth (Pompey Pirates opened in September 2020) and thereafter, to support the opening of further centres. This initiative was developed before the pandemic but has become even more critical now due to some children being left behind in their education due to technical or support issues when schools were closed. The first hub provides 1-1 literacy support for children aged 9–13 falling behind with their literacy development, which in turn prevents them accessing other areas of the educational curriculum. Later hubs will focus on not just children’s’ but young adults’ and adult literacy too.

Provide and support initiatives to fill the health and care gaps in the region

Aligned to the 2040 Portsmouth City Vision to be a healthy and happy city, together the partners will focus on the most-pressing health and wellbeing issues facing our region, only exacerbated by Covid 19 – from the challenges of caring for an ageing population, to the importance of delivering effective health and social care to the most under-represented, vulnerable or isolated groups, as well as supporting healthy lifestyle choices and reducing health risks, including supporting opportunities to develop and maintain physical health. Our collective research, education, training (particularly in areas of key workforce shortages) and clinical and social care expertise can be mobilised to manage health, disease and disability through technological, creative and scientific developments.

The recently awarded Portsmouth University Hospitals NHS Trust (PUH) status was a recent watershed moment for the University of Portsmouth and Portsmouth Hospitals Trust to work in partnership to provide significant benefits to patients, students and colleagues in the local community. PHT will continue to provide high quality, compassionate care, while driving further improvements in research and education, with the University of Portsmouth.

The University of Portsmouth has a long history of providing clinical services in areas where additional or specialist provision is needed locally, for example in their Eye Clinical and Dental Academy, which maintained emergency services throughout the pandemic lockdowns. An example of future work that PUH status further supports is in a plan to scope the feasibility of local and mobile Health Drop in Clinics. This would be delivered via outreach centres around our region or using our mobile clinical vehicles.

With our Further Education College and PHUT partners, we will utilise our combined knowledge and resource to raise mental health awareness in our community and share good practice in supporting their students, friends, family and employees.

Further, working with PHT and Social Care Trusts we will identify workforce needs. We will develop relevant education and training and ensure widening access for local people and health and care workers for recruitment and retention in local jobs. We have already achieved this in our nursing provision and are now exploring a fast track, post graduate medical education to serve, in particular our GP and community based workforce shortage.

Support sustained economic growth in our region

Through partnership work to advocate for Portsmouth’s unique strengths and heritage as a city, we will champion our shared interests, support economic growth and make the city a destination of choice for people to live, work and visit. A particular issue for us in the current context will be in levelling up support for our local SMEs and tourism sector hard hit by lockdown. More broadly, this goal aligns to the Portsmouth 2040 City Vision for a city with a thriving economy and a city rich in culture and creativity.

The University of Portsmouth works with local partners to provide innovation spaces for those that are self-employed or running a small to medium enterprise (SMEs) and looking to grow and soon this will expand, with local Further Education Colleges exploring Business Centres being based on their campuses.

An example of the benefit of our civic agreement partnership includes providing office space and supporting economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic by leading, with Portsmouth City Council and Shaping Portsmouth, Future Together, a crisis recovery business support group. It facilitates knowledge exchange between SMEs and the expertise and facilities within the University, to enable companies to innovate and grow. One recent product of this initiative is the Leadership Programme For 200 Business Leaders, a specialised programme for leaders of small businesses, helping them to survive and thrive throughout the post-COVID-19 recovery and beyond.

Another example of planned activity moving forward, is to work together to identify our local workforce needs and then to educate a local workforce for local retention and develop routes to employment, including for the health sector. We are well placed to achieve this, as currently about 1/3 of our UK students are from the PO postcode area and half of those live in PO1 to PO6 and Havant areas.

One partnership initiative that will support our tourism and culture industry, hard hit by lockdowns, is the Heritage Hub. This is a recent initiative, a research network working with Portsmouth City Council to connect multi-disciplinary researchers from the University with stakeholders in local sites of cultural and historical interest. Our aim is to support our local heritage organisations through preservation, conservation, interpretation and education about our rich and unique regional history – from the dinosaurs of the Cretaceous Period, through to the maritime history of our island port region. Our goal is to help to protect our heritage, increase local access to this heritage, support tourism to our region, support the custodians of our local heritage to secure funding, and understand how our heritage has shaped our life today and can inform our future. We have already worked with the Dinosaur Isle, The Mary Rose Trust, Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, Fishbourne Roman Palace, Southwick House, and Portsmouth Cathedral.

Improve our environmental stability

Through our strategic partnership, we'll actively promote long-term environmental sustainability, raising the quality of life in our community. We're collectively committed to reducing climate change and supporting a green infrastructure. This priority focus supports our 2040 Portsmouth City Vision also, in the goal to be a green city.

Sustainability is an integral part of the University's strategy – we aim to become a climate-positive university by 2030. As part of this partnership agreement, we will work with other local organisations and community groups to share our expertise and work with them to their goals, which will contribute to the overall City Vision to be carbon neutral by 2040.

The University of Portsmouth has expertise in, for example, clean water and sanitation, the impact of plastics and pharmaceuticals, low carbon design, ecological systems and biodiversity, techniques for evaluating and improving damage to land and marine ecosystems. This expertise is of global significance but will be mobilised, with our partners, to have a local impact. In particular, we will continue to work together to mobilise our work on coastal regeneration and plastics pollution, to make a positive contribution locally.

The local impact can already be seen, for example in our regular beach cleans in our oyster repopulation work.

In particular, with our Further Education College partners, we will mobilise our combined expertise, training experience and resource to raise awareness in our community and support other organisations to develop their environmental sustainability.

Within our own organisational policies, all the partners, we will also support the 2040 Portsmouth City Vision to be a city with easy travel. Our policies will encourage and reward fewer journeys by car, making it easier and more enjoyable to be out and about in our city.

Open up our institutions

We'll develop opportunities for shared community and employer use of our talent, networks and other resources. Our students and staff will work in partnership with the community to significantly enhance the social, cultural and economic life of the city.

We'll create staff and student volunteering systems within our organisations that facilitate, reward and recognise volunteering. We'll mobilise the capacity and capability that these systems enable in our local region for strategically agreed projects.

For example, the University currently has 2,500 students volunteering per year and we aim to increase this by a further 2,500 by 2025. Students for Portsmouth. Creating a civic mindset and life-cycle in our students. With our local council, we'll create a Civic Induction (for all students, about taking pride in our City, becoming a member of the community, outlining opportunities), volunteering (individually or in some of the group projects) and social enterprise opportunities (through RIS). We could broaden out the Humanities optional life unit as the mechanism for this, an annual theme (perhaps decided by the community with Portsmouth news) that students (with staff) focus on in a series of school/course based activities linked to them, alumni giving for the city.

We'll give access to our facilities (green space, sports, collections) to the local community where and whenever possible. For example, in our own building projects we will consider whether they can incorporate more public space. One high profile example of our work in this area will be working with partners to manage local access to the University of Portsmouth Ravelin Park Sports Facility, intended to be completed in spring 2021.

The building design aims to set new standards for sustainability and energy efficiency in indoor leisure facilities, and to be one of the UK’s greenest sports facilities. The design stage has already received a BREEAM UK outstanding design certificate, the world’s leading sustainability assessment method, which is a major step towards becoming the first BREEAM outstanding sport and leisure centre in the UK. It incorporates an eight court sports hall, eight lane 25m swimming pool, 175 station fitness suite, multipurpose studios, squash courts, climbing wall and a ski simulator. The project will also involve improvements to public realm space in new pedestrian routes through the surrounding park, the addition of an urban orchard, increased trees and opening up views to the historic public buildings on Museum Road.

We will work with our local communities to explore and celebrate their diverse community through history and cultural heritage, in ways that foster a sense of place and identity, to explore stories of the present and hopes for futures, working with them to empower more members of the community. We will share our ideas, networks and skills to support them to empower others and build capacity and capability within the community, so that projects are sustainable and designed and managed by the community they serve. Our start point, which we will further develop and expand into other areas, is the University of Portsmouth and Portsmouth City Council work with community members in Portsea, exploring and rebuilding awareness of a shared history and approaches, to achieve their goals for the future. Specifically we are sharing our ideas, space, skills and networks with Portsea Events Group (PEG), a group of young mothers who arrange events for their children and the whole community. 200 people from Portsea are involved. Their goal is for these events to develop the skills and self-confidence of Portsea residents, which will in turn benefit their children. We are supporting their plan to ‘make’ their way to an improved community, to craft, garden and sell their wares by exploring spaces (e.g. for a community garden), training that can be offered and networks that can be mobilised to support beneficial connections, e.g. with Hobbycraft.

Promote diversity and inclusion in our community through engagement and leadership

It's in the benefit of large organisations to be global. We'll ensure that our global reach and reputation will benefit our local region. Looking beyond nations, borders, communities, languages, histories, genders and bodies, collectively we have strength in addressing many of the fundamental issues of our time, to promote equality, diversity, gender, migration, development and human rights, rule of law and social justice. We'll use this collective strength to promote inclusion, belonging, and diversity in our community.

Recent examples of our global reach and ambitions, benefitting our local roots, are in the signed Memorandums of Understanding with the Ghana Association of Portsmouth (GHAP) and with the Portsmouth Bangladesh Business Association (PBBA), which enable us to connect with and support key local and global community groups simultaneously, to enhance opportunities for our students and our regional community. We also work very closely with the Chinese Association of Portsmouth, a longstanding relationship. We've also recently started proactive work with the Portsmouth Gurdwara, Indian Student Society (NISAU). We're now exploring links with the Nepalese and Ivory Coast local community groups in Hampshire. This work brings global and local together.

Another example of global to local is the partnership of the University of Portsmouth and Portsmouth City Council on its International Development work. We've developed twin cities in Caen in France, Maizuru in Japan and most recently a sister city agreement signed with Sylhet in Bangladesh, with plans for a partnership with the city of Halifax in Canada.

Portsmouth is a compact city covering 15.5 square miles, with 79% of the population living on Portsea Island. It's the most densely populated unitary UK local authority area outside London (5,081 people per sq km). BAME residents comprised 11.6% of the total population, according to ONS Census 2011. The partnerships above are particularly important since some of the biggest BAME communities in Portsmouth are Bangladeshi or British Bangladeshi – 1.8% of Portsmouth's total population (n. 3,649), Indian or British Indian – 1.4% (n. 2,911), Chinese – 1.3% (n. 2,611), Mixed: White & Asian – 1.2% (n. 2,381). Partners will build on and expand these community links for the benefit of our staff, students and the local community.

The partners will continue to provide support for local community activities, which foster positive community relations, including the African Caribbean Fusion Festival, citywide Black History Month events, Chinese New Year celebrations, and the Inspirational Women of Portsmouth Awards. We'll continue to expand these events, including plans to host a Guru Nanak celebration event.

An example of how a coordinated effort can create a bigger impact is in most of the Civic Agreement partners becoming part of the Armed Forces Covenant. As a proud Naval city with a long military history, we feel that it's our responsibility to be Forces-friendly organisations, where the Armed Forces community should not face disadvantage compared to other citizens in the provision of public and commercial services, particularly when they become veterans. Portsmouth is a city proud to offer safety and sanctuary to anyone fleeing violence and persecution, or who is vulnerable and isolated. Over 100 local, like-minded organisations, including eligible partners, will come together to form a City of Sanctuary and share a vision to raise awareness and address local issues of vulnerability and indignity, with inclusiveness, kindness and compassion. The University of Portsmouth is working toward University of Sanctuary status as part of this initiative.

A final and long-standing example is in the partners sponsorship of Portsmouth Pride, which aims to be more than an LGBTQ+ parade. The aim of Pride is to raise awareness through entertainment and community engagement. The University of Portsmouth and other partners already sponsor Portsmouth Pride. This sponsorship will transfer to a Civic Agreement sponsorship, shared between partner signatories.

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