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Sustainable farming and youth mental health funders recognised – University of Reading

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Sustainable farming and youth mental health funders recognised

Release Date 19 July 2019

New members of the College of Benefactors with Robert Van De Noort and Gavin Brooks


Two family foundations whose giving has helped students to pursue sustainable farming courses and provide young people with innovative mental health therapies have been recognised by the University of Reading.

The Elizabeth Creak Charitable Trust and the Titcomb Foundation were inducted into the College of Benefactors during a graduation ceremony on Friday 19 July. Both organisations were welcomed into the College, which celebrates the University’s supporters and the projects that their generosity makes possible.

Enabling sustainable farming

Agnes worked in Kenya as an Agribusiness Manager in the financial sector, developing products for small-scale farmers. There, she focused on developing products within the microfinance industry, helping to make markets work for the poor through financing projects including renewable energy especially for those in rural areas.

Now Agnes is studying for an MSc in Agriculture and Development through the support of the Elizabeth Creak Charitable Trust.

The Trust was established in 1983 to help “new blood” access high quality education on agriculture and since 2015, it has funded 14 scholars from around the world to complete a postgraduate course in agriculture.

Agnes said:

“The opportunity to study and the scholarship could not have come at a better time. Within my first term of study, my perspective and approach to support farmers has changed: I believe that we can support farmers within the existing farming systems, but a better understanding of them and the system is key to making effective changes.

This year, the University will work in even closer collaboration with the Trust. Their generous funding will allow the creation of the Elizabeth Creak Associate Professor in Agricultural Innovation and Extension, as well as a PhD post to work alongside them.

These posts will greatly expand the University’s capacity in the area of farm extension, bringing new knowledge, research and practice to the agricultural industry – and building a more sustainable future for all of us.

Young people’s mental health

Support from the Titcomb Foundation has been instrumental in helping clinical psychologists at the University of Reading develop a ground-breaking project to improve access to treatment for young people suffering from depression and anxiety. 

The AnDY Research Clinic has used funding to support partnerships with local secondary schools on a project evaluating the feasibility and effectiveness of delivering Brief Behavioural Activation (Brief BA, a psychological treatment) in schools for adolescents with low mood/depression.

Dr Laura Pass, Research Clinical Psychologist: Adolescent Depression said:

“Brief BA is a structured, practical talking therapy for low mood, that aims to help young people identify what is personally important to them , and plan their time to increase the amount of time spent doing these  activities. The idea is not just to do more, but to do more of what matters to them.

“The AnDY research group have been successfully piloting this in NHS CAMHs, and are now coming to the end of a 3-year project evaluating the delivery of Brief BA in schools. “

Mrs. Linda Stevens, from one of the partnership schools, Theale Green, said:

“Working alongside the Brief BA Project at Theale Green school has allowed us to support some of our most vulnerable students with their mental health needs.  The team has fostered and developed vital links between students, school and homes, increasing everyone’s understanding.”

One teacher spoke of the impact of the Brief BA project on one of his students, saying: “Be in no doubt that this project has been life-changing for this young man.”

The College of Benefactors

Launched in 2014, the College of Benefactors celebrates the generosity of supporters who have made gifts to the University of Reading that enabled projects that would not have been able to take place without that support. Induction into the College is the highest honour that the University can bestow upon a donor.

Speaking at the ceremony on Friday, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Gavin Brooks said:

"I am pleased to recognise and thank these donors, whose generous support has had a transformative impact on teaching and research at Reading.”


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