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student and freelancer, James Messenger, who will use his grant to further the growth of social enterprise, Alchemy Arts.

Community arts, media, development and regeneration organisations are among the initiatives that are set to benefit after seven University of Chester students and graduates were successful in applications for national enterprise-boosting grants.

The students and recent graduates have each been awarded £1,000 by Santander Universities UK to carry out freelance work for a Small or Medium-sized Enterprise.

James Messenger, who is studying a Master’s in Digital Marketing, is one of the successful applicants and is looking forward to using his grant to support Manchester-based Alchemy Arts. The media and arts social enterprise uses innovative education and outreach programmes to support ethnic minority and wider under-represented communities across the North West.

James works with the organisation as a digital marketing freelancer, creating and distributing a range of social media and written content, as well as supporting the development of projects.

The 22-year-old from Warrington said: “I am delighted to receive this funding as part of the Santander UK Freelancer Scheme. Many freelancers like myself have struggled during the pandemic, but ventures like this really enable us to make a difference across a number of fields.

“It is fantastic to see my hard work recognised. Alchemy Arts is a very worthwhile organisation doing some great work within the community, and I cannot wait to continue supporting their growth across Greater Manchester."

Fellow successful applicants also shared their joy at being awarded the grant.

Adeyinka Olushonde, who is from Merseyside and studying a Doctor of Professional Studies (DProf) in Practical Theology, is preparing to use his grant to support organisations as they recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

He said: “I am extremely pleased and grateful to be accepting the £1,000 award for the Santander Freelancer Scheme. Having worked for many years in the areas of community arts, community development and regeneration, I provide a range of project support and delivery on a freelance basis to organisations, focused on business and personal mentoring/coaching services.

“I am currently engaged in delivering financial support and signposting to those who have been adversely affected by the global pandemic. This award will enable me to continue to provide a high quality service.”

Nikki Gladwin-Stride from Wokingham, who is studying School Business Leadership (Apprenticeship) and is also a children’s entertainer, providing birthday parties and workshops as well as festival and corporate entertainment, said: “The grant is enabling me to re-start NikNak Events - something I am passionate about, as I have not been able to operate during the last year due to the pandemic, while also offering a nice treat for local pupils to enjoy some disco fun to boost morale after a year of restrictions.”

Adebowale Ademola, from Manchester, who graduated from the University of Chester with a Master’s in International Business added: “I am incredibly grateful to Santander UK for this opportunity. It is a great privilege to be awarded the funding from the Freelancer Scheme.

“As a freelancer, I create content, manage social media pages and help in creating marketing plans and strategies for self-employed individuals. This will really go a long way to support my business in the most effective way.”

The applications to the scheme were made with encouragement and support from Student Futures, which includes the University’s Careers and Employability department.

Kirsty Badrock, Entrepreneurship Co-ordinator at the University of Chester, said: “Congratulations to all of our students and graduates who have been awarded this funding.

“Thank you also to Santander UK for selecting our successful seven and enabling them to give enterprises a much-valued boost through their freelance work.”         

Robert Simmonds, Deputy Relationship Director, Santander Universities UK, added: “Santander Universities is committed to supporting entrepreneurship and we are delighted to be able to support freelancers who have been particularly affected by the pandemic.

“We hope that this support will help to kick-start some really important projects that will have been put on hold while businesses have adapted to the incredibly difficult circumstances of the past 12 months and we hope to see those relationships between freelancers and businesses re-kindled.”

For further information on the Santander UK Freelancer Scheme please visit:

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Student Nikki Gladwin-Stride whose grant is enabling her to re-start her freelance events business.
Student Nikki Gladwin-Stride whose grant is enabling her to re-start her freelance events business.

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