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York University Students Create Poverty Timeline

Uni of York 300414

3:31pm 14th July 2014

University of York students working with the Rowntree Society have produced a short study of the history of poverty and philanthropy in the city, developing a Poverty Timeline detailing the relief of the poor.

The team of four undergraduate students - Sophie Day, Georgina Kennedy, Laura Roberts and Jake Strong - worked with Bridget Morris, Director of the Rowntree Society on the timeline, which the Rowntree Society is now planning to turn into a public exhibition. 

As part of the University’s volunteering @Work scheme, the team produced a series of historical snapshots from Roman times to the present day, on the themes of poor relief, public health, education and perceptions of poverty. The students have also produced a visual model to suggest how the timeline might be displayed as an exhibition.

While this was a research project, the team is keen to work further with the Rowntree Society to develop the exhibition and have put forward ideas including walking tours, mobile apps and multimedia displays.

Politics student Jake Strong said: “It's been really fantastic to discover just how extensive the history of the issue is in York, especially the sheer number of buildings in the city with close ties to the relief of the poor.”

Laura Roberts, who is studying English and History, added: “While many see York as a 'comfortable' city, the timeline may change people's perspectives - in a good way. It shows York's pioneering history as a city of philanthropy.”

The Rowntree Society was founded in 2001 to further knowledge about the lives and legacy of the Rowntree family, including their passion for reform.  

Bridget Morris said: "The students working on the Poverty Timeline have drawn out many key issues in a succinct and accessible way. The timeline illustrates a variety of approaches to poverty in York, starting from Roman times right up to the food banks and new philanthropy of the 21st century. It has been a pleasure to work with the students on this project which has provided the means for the Rowntree Society to create an exhibition for public display."

Coordinated by the University’s Careers team in partnership with academic departments, @Work allows student volunteers to demonstrate their commitment to the local community, while gaining valuable work experience to enhance their future career prospects.

This year, around 200 students from the Departments of Education, English and Related Literature, History of Art and Politics, took part in 35 community projects. These were run in partnership with 50 community partners, including the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the National Trust, York Children’s University, York Museums Trust and the Company of the Merchant Adventurers of the City of York.

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