Shropshire Star

Sir Lenny Henry launches £1.2m education hub

Sir Lenny Henry has launched a £1.2 million education hub in Birmingham aimed at getting thousands more young people into higher education.

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Sir Lenny Henry launched the new project with brothers Connor Willis, 8, and McKenzie Willis, 10, working on aboriginal art

Birmingham City University has joined forces with national educational charity IntoUniversity to open the new learning centre in Kingstanding.

The new partnership has been created to boost the numbers of young people attending university with parts of Kingstanding seeing only 13.5 per cent of schoolchildren going into higher education, compared to 78 per cent in parts of Sutton Coldfield.

Sir Lenny Henry meets seven-year-old Sebastian Coman

It is expected to welcome more than 1,000 students through its door each year once established.

The hub, based at the refurbished Maryvale Community Centre, is the first of its kind in Birmingham and will have a focus on the arts as well as a range of other subjects.

Lenny has time for a selfie with 10-year-old Natty Beyene

Opening the centre, Sir Lenny Henry, chancellor at Birmingham City University, said: "I'm thrilled to be here in Kingstanding because I really, truly believe that universities shouldn't be closed off from the communities in which they are situated in.

"Through this centre, its staff, and its volunteers, young people will be able to develop the skills to help them get to university - and to seek out the opportunities which will help them make the most of the potential they have."

Sir Lenny with one of the IntoUniversity founders Hugh Rayment-Pickard
Sir Lenny Henry helped with an art session
Sir Lenny Henry is Chancellor of Birmingham City University

Five full-time members of staff have been recruited to deliver after-school academic support, workshops and a mentoring programme.

Sir Lenny Henry added: "It took me a while to get around to going to university, but I loved it so much that I went and got a Master's and a PhD too. It just shows that whatever your age, background or circumstances going to university is a fantastic thing to do.

"Now I'm the chancellor of Birmingham City University - a position I would never have imagined I'd hold when I was a boy growing up in Dudley."