On Friday 25th March, fifteen of our students from Unity Blackpool came on a trip to Manchester. We met at Oxford Road station and walked up to Man Met University. It was a warm day in the city, with lots of noise and lots of buses, very different to Blackpool. The girls loved looking at everything that was going on, lots of tall and interesting architecture, and thought everyone in Manchester had great style!
At MMU we met Sophie, who is a PHD student in the Sociology department (and an old friend of PIE!). We talked about sociology and gender inequality in society, and how to tell stories with numbers and statistics. We were shocked to hear about the gender pay gap and realised how many inequalities there are.
In the lecture theatre we found out about uni life and the students said it felt very different to a classroom, a cool place to learn. We heard all about Sophie's own personal experience of coming to uni - the first in her family and against what her friends from Warrington were doing. She didn't think she could afford it - now she is doing a PHD and teacher other university students! She encouraged the girls to follow their dreams and not let what they think might be financial barriers get in their way.
The group then walked to get the tram and from the tram we saw lots of other sights like Old Trafford and lots of construction. We talked about how Manchester as a city is growing all the time - along with the opportunities that are available to young people like them.
On arrival at Media City, we went to the Blue Peter garden and then to Pizza Express. The group loved having the chance to order and share with their friends, and showed amazing manners throughout - they even cleared the whole table by stacking their plates before the waiters came over to take their plates!
After lunch, we spent time looking around Media City - including peering through at the BBC Sport studios, wandering over to the Coronation Street set to see if we could spot any soap stars, and learning about the different job opportunities there. We even had time to enjoy the sunshine... however, there may have then been a quick sprint to catch the tram back to Deansgate for the return journey home - luckily Miss Pike (who is a PE teacher) ran ahead and held the tram up for the rest of us!
Ms McGuinness (Unity) had this to say: "It was inspirational to meet Sophie and to hear her story from how she ended up going to uni and to now doing a PHD. Amazing that she is the first person from her family going to university. It was great for the students to see the university campus and give us a different experience".
The students themselves shared some comments:
It was fun to be able to peak through to the BBC.
Having that experience changed my perspective on the world after only living a small town life.
I was very grateful to have the opportunity to visit MMU as it inspired me.
Visiting the University was very inspiring to me. I loved it.
It was nice and enjoyable to go to a restaurant with my friends.
I liked putting myself in a student's shoes when visiting MMU. It was an exciting experience.
Their teacher, Miss Evie Pike said, “A rewarding and inspiring trip to say the least. A chance for our year 10 students to get a feel for University life and broaden their horizons. Sophie captivated them from the very first minute at MMU, the girls especially enjoyed using the microphone in the lecture hall. Then the opportunity to hop on and off the trams visiting media city with our students gave that chance to see life from a different angle. The girls have not stopped talking about the trip and I just know that it will stick with them for the rest of their lives. Thank you so much Beth!"
Finally, Beth said,"It was amazing after two long years to have students from Unity back down in Manchester. The chance to show students future opportunities is a huge part of what we do and from the conversations with the girls both during and after the trip, there have been some real moments of inspiration that will hopefully help them when making choices about their next steps. As always, they were a pleasure to work with and we are so proud to support Unity students."
Thanks to everyone who made the trip possible, we can't wait to venture out again!