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School of Social Sciences

Sara Kurdi

BSocSc Social Anthropology

Sara Kurdi
Image courtesy of Paddy Crich

Stellify – grow, lead and make a difference

Manchester is a place where students have the opportunity to grow, to lead and to make a difference, both through their studies and beyond via the University’s Stellify programme.

With a keen awareness of some of the world’s most pressing problems, BSocSc Social Anthropology student Sara recalls how her Stellify experience sparked the opportunity to think independently and creatively, inspiring her to give back to the city.

What sparked Sara’s Stellify journey?

“I never imagined that I would be able to run 10 kilometres, especially as I’d just given up smoking” Sara remembers. She’d entered the Simplyhealth Great Manchester Run to raise funds for Manchester Central Foodbank; one of the only student-led food banks in the country. But for Sara, the finish line was just the beginning.

Sara decided to attend a volunteering session to see how financial donations would help the food bank’s work. She found a warm, welcoming environment for some of the city’s most vulnerable people.

“I have personal experience of some of the issues the food bank’s client’s face and I wanted to understand better the role that food banks play to address some of these,” she explains.

How did Sara’s studies inspire her Stellify experience?

Sara’s interest in the world of food banks was also growing thanks to the anthropological theory unit on her degree course. “As students, we’re so focused on our education and it’s very easy to lose sight of what’s going on around us,” she reflects. “This is a part of my life that is totally given to something else. Meeting and talking to such a variety of people has improved my interpersonal skills and confidence.” 

How did Sara’s role grow?

Sara started by organising donations into boxes but her role has expanded to include one-to-one meetings with clients to identify and record reasons for food-bank use. “Working on administration has opened my eyes to the societal problems people are, sadly, increasingly facing. It’s completely taken me out of my comfort zone.”

Where is Stellify taking Sara?

While Sara is embarking on a year abroad at VU University Amsterdam, she’s also thinking ahead to her final year – and the food bank has approached her about becoming a trustee on her return. “At the food bank, we like to think there will be a point where our help is not needed, but in reality, there are a range of economic and social reasons why people need to use them and the problems we see do not always have easy solutions,” she explains.

Stellify and beyond

“Becoming a trustee is an exciting, slightly daunting challenge, but the skills and experience I’ll gain will be invaluable when I graduate.

“We could potentially be making decisions about how the food bank is run. That ultimately has an impact on people’s lives, their communities and society.”

Stellify – grow, lead and make a difference

‘Stellify’ means ‘to change, or be changed, into a star’. At The University of Manchester, every undergraduate is invited on this journey.