University-backed FabLab celebrates anniversary after helping more people than ever despite COVID-19

FabLab Coventry

FabLab's City Arcade base, Coventry

Research news / Business news

Tuesday 21 July 2020

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A Coventry University-backed centre which supports local people and businesses to learn new skills, has celebrated its fourth anniversary by revealing it has helped more people than ever before.

FabLab has had its physical celebrations halted by COVID-19 but the pandemic has not stopped its expansion in the past year – engaging with more than 1,751 individuals and families, running 119 workshops and supporting 44 firms.

The science, technology, engineering, arts and maths (STEAM) civic engagement programme is backed by Coventry University’s Centre for Trust Peace and Social Relations (CTPSR) and Coventry City Council and a recently released Social Impact Study revealed that, despite the pandemic, it has achieved as much in the past 12 months as in its first three years - running 31 accredited courses, helping people gain 112 new qualifications, 245 people enrol onto funded project activity and supporting 95 Coventry University students. Sinead Ouillon, who founded the centre in Coventry’s City Arcade in July 2016 with the support of CTPSR Executive Director Professor Mike Hardy, is hopeful that the growth can continue.  

We would not be here without the support and belief of Professor Mike Hardy, Executive Director of CTPSR who, in 2014 invested significant finance in this STEAM adventure for his amazing research centre, to blend innovative research with local and global communities as well as strengthening links with our home city.

On our birthday, the evidence in this social impact report points towards this approach of research and university civic engagement as a resounding success.

Sinead Ouillon, Co-founder and Director of FabLab Coventry

The programme’s new eco-friendly furniture factory in FarGo Village, in Far Gosford Street, will play a key role in the next step for FabLab as they look to develop green enterprises and trade.

Now, FabLab is aiding the university’s response to COVID-19, using its 3D printers to create PPE for NHS staff early in the crisis, providing online educational courses and distributing 1,000 pieces of university furniture to help local secondary schools, charities, food banks and community organisations as they look to start re-opening.

This year has seen a different set of challenges. COVID-19 has meant we have had to quickly adapt to making changes to our daily operations and finding alternative routes to support the members of our community, local businesses and participants across our project funded activities. None of our achievements or successes would be anywhere near as effective or impactful without our ever-growing community of makers and creatives.

Helen Lewis, FabLab manager