The University of Southampton

Climate Change Theatre Project – our journey so far…..

In the week when we heard that Southampton was one of the four cities shortlisted in the City of Culture 2025 competition, it felt like a good opportunity to share more about our Climate Change Theatre project. We feel very excited about our involvement with this project and the way it showcases how we can use science and art to inspire young people and how the arts can be used as a powerful vehicle to engage people with the global issues facing us all, spread understanding and reach new audiences.

Telling the story of climate change is a challenge being undertaken by a group of young people who are bringing together science and art in a unique project.

Young people and our Countryside Education Trust guide
Young people and our Countryside Education Trust guide

With Southampton and surrounding areas being both the inspiration and backdrop for the piece, our climate change youth group have been spending time in 3 different environments; the forest, the beach and the city finding out more about the impact of climate change on these areas and the opportunities for individuals to take action.

The Forest

Only 15 minutes on the train from Southampton, the New Forest is a world away from the hustle bustle of modern life.  Working in partnership with the New Forest National Park Authority, we visited 3 different locations; the ancient woodlands in Beaulieu Estate with the Countryside Education Trust, Brockenhurst and a cycling experience at Ashurst with PEDALL cycling. As we explored each thriving green corner, our guides shared how the Countryside Education Trust was tackling climate change through nature recovery – restoring natural habitats to enable wildlife to thrive, both within and around the national park. These three sessions had a hugely positive impact on our young people, particularly those with long term health needs.

Our of our parents said:

‘He took two big lungfuls of New Forest air and wondered what he was being anxious about.’

The group were keen to know how we can play our part in small ways to help reduce the impact of our lives on the environment around us and were given the example of reducing car journeys. During lockdown more deer were seen around villages in the New Forest due to fewer cars being on the roads.

Enjoying the great outdoors
Enjoying the great outdoors

>>> Watch a short film about our time in the New Forest here<<<

The beach

The group then continued their explorations on Weston Shore with marine biologist, Holly Jenkins. Holly got our young people to take part in scientific demonstrations, litter picking, and talked to them about how we can mitigate threats to our local coastlines such as global warming, acidification, overfishing and plastic pollution, as part of British Science Week, the young people produced video campaigns under the heading ‘The Oceans are rising and so are we

Find out more on the SOTSEF website here.

The city

Our third and final environment was focused on an urban environment. Working with the Southampton National Park City Project, our group has been looking at air pollution and sustainable farming and appreciating the green areas we have on our doorsteps without even realizing. The morning spent at City Farm Southampton was a moment of calm, only a couple of minutes away from the busy and bustling city.

To round off the discovery part of this project, our young people will be exploring the role of government in setting policy to support climate change action. From the local government perspective, Cllr Chris Hammond will be talking to our group about the challenges facing cities, in particular for Southampton, air pollution and we will also be taking our young people to meet with Steve Brine MP and Alok Sharma MP and COP26 President to hear about the opportunities and challenges from a National and International perspective.

Then, the exciting work begins, inspired by what they have discovered over the past few months, our youth group will devise, storyboard, produce and perform a piece of theatre which will tell the stories of climate change in these different environments.

These will be performed over the Jubilee Bank Holiday weekend in Southampton (Palmerston Park) on 2 June and in the New Forest (Countryside Education Trust, Beaulieu) on 4 June – look out for details of the free performances in the coming weeks.

Find out more about the project here:


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Redesign our team of warriors so they can support healthier communities

Our COVID-19 Warriors did an amazing job helping primary school children learn about how to protect themselves and others from the spread of coronavirus.

Their superpowers, special tools and supported lessons, created with the help of children, made a big difference in helping to keep schools and communities safer. The warriors supported young people in understanding the science behind the health messages and why we were being asked to adopt different behaviours.

Some of the original designs
Some of the original designs

As we now look towards living with the virus, we need to think about how the warriors can help with supporting how we can be healthier and do more to protect ourselves against a range of conditions and illnesses.

In the same way young people helped design the original warriors, we need your help to reinvent the team so they can put new superpowers to good use in our communities.

We want to hear your ideas about how our warriors can promote healthy lifestyles and choices. That could be things like exercising more, making better food choices or ways we can help care for our mental health.

This is a challenge for creative young people in primary schools who can bring our new warriors to life – and there are PRIZES up for grabs!

Successful designers will win a box of goodies for their class that will make learning about how we can protect ourselves from viruses fun.

Download and fill in the design sheet below with your ideas of what the warriors could look like, what their superpowers are and even what their new names could be. You could redesign one of the characters or the whole team – see where your ideas take you!

Can you give our warriors a makeover?
Can you give our warriors a makeover?

Download the design sheet here

Once you are happy with your creations, submit the completed form to

We look forward to seeing your designs.

Join the LifeLab team as a member of our youth panel – employed by the University of Southampton

Are you looking to make a difference? Do you have ideas about how we could improve young people’s health? Then we are looking for you. We need enthusiastic young people with bright ideas who want to help improve health outcomes for their community.

This is a job at the University of Southampton, working with the LifeLab team, where your views and opinions will help us understand the challenges young people face when making healthy choices and the opportunities there are to support them to make better choices. Your ideas and experience will bePanel advert invaluable in shaping future projects and opportunities.

As a member of the University of Southampton’s Uniworkforce, you will be employed at Level 2a, spinal point 9, with an hourly rate of £10.23. This role will require a commitment of three hours a week, largely online but with the occasional need to meet face to face.

We are keen to hear from students aged 14yrs+ who are in Year 9 to 12 and who want to play a vital role in shaping our future direction.

Along with contributing your ideas, perspective and experience we are looking for young people who are confident to share their ideas, have basic literacy and IT skills, the ability to work in a team, effective communication skills and be able to maintain confidentiality.

The successful panel members would meet as a group each week (most likely Tuesday 4.30pm-5.30pm), where we will discuss various LifeLab projects and consider how these can be developed. You will then be given some tasks to complete independently that can be brought back to the group and help guide our future work.

Our commitment to you would be a full induction to the team, the opportunity to work with inspiring people from education and healthcare settings and a fantastic addition to your CV or application to University or further education settings.

Find out more about what the post involves by reading the role descriptor document here:


For more information please read the role descriptor document, and if you feel that this is the opportunity for you, fill out the application form.

Click here to complete the application form

We are also happy to accept a short video which covers the question asked in the form. Please make them no longer than five minutes in length. Please contact the LifeLab team if you are considering this option so we can arrange how it can be submitted.


For any queries or questions about the application, please email and someone from the team will be in touch.

Learn how to sell your science – sign up to Meet the Scientist training

It’s back! After a two year break we are giving scientists and researchers the chance to find out more about our Meet the Scientist programme and develop the skills they need to showcase their work.

If you have ever wanted to learn how you can engage an audience in your work, but lacked the confidence to stand up and sell it, then signing up for the Meet the Scientist training could be just what you need.

The LifeLab team have devised an in-person training programme using COVID-19 secure protocols, The training will help you develop your skills, enabling you to not only present your research to a crowd, but lead discussion and inspire the next generation of scientists.

Spaces are still available for the upcoming Meet the Scientist full day training session that is being held on Friday, 6 May from 8.50am to 3.15pm at Highfield Campus, University of Southampton.

Download the full programme here

The day includes a packed programme of workshops, sessions and hands on practice in how you can present your work in an engaging way.

Training prepares participants for the the Meet the Scientist component of the LifeLab programme where students come into the lab for a day of hands-on science with the opportunity to meet real life scientists and be inspired by their work.

Our ‘scientists’ are drawn from different backgrounds – PhD, lab manager, research nurse, lab technician, postdoc, PI, lecturer, professor.  So even if you don’t feel you are a traditional ‘scientist’ your contribution is extremely valuable.  Participation is also an excellent opportunity for you to reflect on your career path to date, to communicate your research, and to inspire this different audience.

The training will have benefits beyond LifeLab, as it will be useful for all public engagement work with school pupils. As part of the training, there is an opportunity to register as a STEM ambassador with Winchester Science Centre.

 Please use the links to book your place:

For PGR information –

For University of Southampton staff –

Staffbook login –

If you are outside the University of Southampton network and can’t access the link please email:






Blog: Re-opening our doors to students as LifeLab goes ‘on tour’

LifeLab teaching fellow Lisa Bagust talks about why it’s great to have young people back at LifeLablisab

We got back to our roots last week when we opened our doors to students again for the first time in 21 months.

Getting hands-on with learning and allowing young people to discover for themselves the impact of their choices on their own health through immersive experiences just wasn’t possible as we lived through the toughest restrictions that COVID-19 brought.

As we gradually gained our freedoms conversations began around how we could restart LifeLab in a safe way. Our natural home at University Hospital Southampton was always going to be our biggest challenge as the epicentre of where the impact of the pandemic was being most keenly felt.

Our attention then turned to creating a temporary base away from the hospital so that young people could be welcomed back to our labs. So here we are, on tour at the University of Southampton’s Highfield Campus.Students enjoying our pop up LifeLab at the University of Southampton

Our temporary base is now the Maths and Science Learning Centre where we have been made to feel incredibly welcome as we have repurposed the learning space to accommodate our wet and dry lab spaces for students to carry out their investigations and experiments.

We packed all our teaching resources and practical equipment including 8 gel electrophoresis kits, DNA samples, a UV box, along with few anatomical models  and a whole health circus into a fight case which was safely delivered by courier to our new base, we even have a handy portal ultrasound machine so we can still check out those arteries!

>>> BOOK YOUR PLACE FOR 2022 or find out more about the EACH-B research programme by emailing<<< 

It was a big challenge but with good old-fashioned teamwork and a can do attitude we were ready in time to welcome our first students back. Last week 80 students from Cantell school became the first to enjoy ‘LifeLab on tour’, and it was great to have them back.

We came up with some really creative solutions to enable us to continue to deliver LifeLab programmes virtually through the pandemic, but nothing beats face to face teaching.

Great to see young people getting hands on with science
Great to see young people getting hands on with science

You can see the moment a young person discovers something amazing for the first time or when what you are saying just ‘clicks’ with them. Being alongside them to help them craft their health pledges and enjoying the banter of being in the class again is priceless.

Last week the students had the benefit of hearing from Rachel Owen who wowed them with her research around Tasmanian Devils in our ‘Meet the Scientist’ session. Being inspired with people like her who can demonstrate how science can take you to some weird and wonderful places is such a key part of what we do.

Although not our long-term base, our LifeLab camp will undoubtedly be a lovely home from home. Restarting our LifeLab days as part of our EACH-B research programme feels like an important step for me personally towards getting back to where we want to be in terms of our everyday lives.

It was wonderful to have the young people back with us and we are looking forward to seeing many more of you in our new home and one day back at LifeLab HQ.

Southampton teenagers are first in the country to become Young Health Champions in response to COVID-19 pandemic

Young people from Southampton have become the first to receive a Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) qualification, recognising their efforts in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Using funding from Southampton City Council (SCC) COVID-19 Innovations Grant, members of the Youth Ambassadors Group at Southampton Children’s Hospital, worked with film makers to create a series of short films. The aim was to create messaging aimed at their peer group to either support public health advice to help contain the virus, or convey the impact of the pandemic on young people and their mental health.

Creating the films formed part of the RSPH COVID-19 Young Health Champion Level 2 qualification, a brand new award that recognises the role that young people play in public health messaging.

For the qualification, young people had to first investigate a public health issue – in this case COVID-19 – before devising a way of communicating it in the form of a public health campaign and then finally reflecting on the success of their work by evaluating impact and areas for improvement.

The qualification was gained through the University of Southampton LifeLab Programme, an accredited centre of excellence for delivering RSPH qualifications. The first cohort of newly-qualified health champions gathered for a presentation ceremony at Southampton City Council Civic Centre.

RSPH COVID-19 award winners received their qualification
RSPH COVID-19 award winners received their qualification

Ipsa Dash, 16, was one of those to gain the qualification. She said: “I was really grateful for the opportunity to take part in this project and really pleased to have received this award. It has been a great experience and also a valuable one because of the focus on young people creating these messages for other young people. I am very proud to have been a part of it.”

Sallie White, Community Engagement Officer at SCC, said: “These films were a great opportunity for young people to raise awareness with their peers about how they could keep themselves safe and follow the guidance at the time’’

Lisa Bagust, LifeLab teaching fellow, said: “We are particularly proud to have developed this brand new syllabus dedicated to COVID-19 in partnership with RSPH and with funding from the Department for Health and Social Care. It is fantastic to see young people recognised for the part they have played in the pandemic response.”

Aaron Mansfield, Education Manager at RSPH, said “We are delighted to have collaborated with the University of Southampton and LifeLab on this fantastic project. It is vital that young people are given every opportunity to shape the public health messages that affect their lives, as well as the recognition they deserve for the contributions that they make.”

Sarah Shameti, youth worker for the Youth Ambassadors Group which is made up of young people who have a connection to the children’s hospital, said: “We were delighted to see the outcome of the hard work the young people had put in. Not only has it been great to see the impact the films had, the project has led to members of the group gaining a recognised qualification.”

The films were published earlier this year on themes that encouraged young people to either follow guidance to protect others or highlight mental health impact and support available.

The films can be viewed here:

Exciting new climate change project combining theatre with science

If you have been inspired by COP26 to play your part in tackling climate change, our exciting new partnership could be just for you.

We are looking to work with young people aged 14-21 year olds living in Hampshire, and are particularly keen to engage with young people with long term health and mental health conditions, siblings and young carers.

This opportunity involves working with scientists and teachers at LifeLab  and local theatre company Theatre for Life to explore the impact of climate change in our communities.

Equipped with the science behind climate change, you will then have the opportunity to apply your knowledge and understanding in three outdoor locations:

New Forest National Park

Weston Shore beach

City of Southampton

Working with Theatre for Life and environmentalists in each location, you will work as a theatre company to devise, write and perform impactful theatre around the imminent climate crisis.

During the May Half term you will perform your devised plays through site specific theatre in the forest, beach and the City of Southampton to demonstrate how communities can work together to take action and protect our planet.

***Please note all activities will take place on a Saturday morning from 10.30 am – 12.30 pm, our introductory day 27 November will be longer from 10.30am – 1.30pm ***

We will book indoor spaces to support the outdoor exploratory and creative work as a weather contingency and for toilet facilities / access needs.

We can provide travel bursaries upon request, for further information please email


‘Fact-cination’ leaflet to help support rollout of COVID-19 vaccination programme amongst teens

LifeLab is about enabling young people to understand the health messages they receive through their own scientific discovery. The COVID-19 vaccination is now available to young people aged 12 to 15 and to help them make a decision that is right for them, the LifeLab team has produced this fact sheet.

The guide has been produced to help point young people and their parents to reliable sources of information regarding the COVID-19 vaccination now it is being offered to secondary school pupils. The guide is free to download and share with anyone who thinks it might be a useful resource to help make their decision.

The team has taken information from organisations like the NHS and scientific and medial authorities on vaccination programs. The leaflet also includes helpful hints on checking where information has come from to ensure the decision you make around having the vaccine is not based on false or misleading content.

Download the guide here:

Click here to download the factsheet

Latest Blog: LifeLab’s Summer School goes global

From improving communication skills to gaining an insight into what life is really like as a medic, young people who took part in LifeLab’s Virtual Summer School 2021 have been telling us how much they valued the event.

After last year’s successful transfer of delivering the experience online, the team once again devised a virtual two-day programme aimed at students in years 9-13 considering a career in medicine.

Historically, students came into University Hospital Southampton for the experience where they would normally be involved in a series of hands-on workshops and tutorials along with shadowing doctors and healthcare professionals.

With the on-going uncertainty around in-person events, and in light of how successful last year’s event was, the LifeLab team once again hosted the experience virtually with a series of interactive and self-directed modules, tasks and discussion sessions, covering a host of subjects related to working in medicine.

Support from the Widening Participation and Social Mobility team at the University meant that there was a team of 10 fabulous student ambassadors from the Faculty of Medicine, who acted as mentors to the younger students over the two days.

LifeLab's online summer school was accessed by students across the world
LifeLab’s online summer school was accessed by students across the world

Like last year, the move to a virtual experience also enabled the summer school to be accessed internationally. More than 85 students enjoyed the programme from across the UK and Europe and as far afield as Canada, Malaysia and China.

At the end of the event, students were asked to give their feedback, which was overwhelmingly positive.

Students commented:

“The chance to speak to doctors taught me about both the advantages and disadvantages to studying medicine because everyone was really honest about their experiences. No one pretended that being a doctor wasn’t a job that is both mentally and physically hard, but they also spoke so passionately about how rewarding their job is, which gave me a great insight into the realities of medicine.”


“I’ve definitely gained a deeper understanding into what it actually takes to be a good doctor, especially from the word cloud, for example compassion, communication and empathy. This has encouraged me to take part in activities which help me build these skills even more, for example volunteering for the local charity shop!”


“I’ve learnt that teamwork is very key, almost every speaker in the speed networking talked about how they work with a variety of different healthcare professionals, this was further reiterated in the trauma simulation where the emergency response teams worked together and updated each other during the simulation, linking to how communication is also a very important key skill.”


Students also appreciated the opportunity to take part, recognising the challenges that young people have had this year in gaining work experience:


“With the lack of work experiences available, this was extremely helpful to me and I honestly learn so so much! :)”


Another added: “Had it not been online I wouldn’t have been able to be part of this invaluable experience.”

Parents were also asked for their reflections on the programme:

“I think it has made her more motivated to study medicine.”

“The summer school has definitely made her more excited about the possibility of medicine as well as more eager to follow through with it.”

“Thank you so much for this opportunity for my daughter, especially in this time when it is so hard for students to get any kind of work experience, it is invaluable”

The team aims to build on the virtual summer school with more virtual events planned. For more details keep an eye on our social media accounts >>> link<<< or email to be kept informed about future opportunities.

LATEST BLOG: Why we’re giving school leavers a helping hand into the world of work

After a tough year of lockdown, isolations and virtual everything, putting yourself out in the big wide world for volunteering and work experience might feel a bit daunting for many young people.

As we ease out of some of the toughest restrictions brought on by the pandemic, navigating their way into the world of work could also be a bit tricky for some.

That’s why the LifeLab team has come up with a pack pulling together a load of opportunities open to young people who want to dip their toe into the world of work or volunteering.

Packed full of hints, tips, suggestions and recommendations, the free pack is a one-stop shop for everything young people need to get them started.

Along with listing some great virtual and in-person opportunities, the team has also spoken to young people who have been there and done it; getting their take on why it worked for them.

We have also spoken to employers and recruiters to get their views on how valuable work experience and volunteering is to future career prospects.

Kate Bartlett, developing talent lead LifeLab

>>>> Download the pack here<<<<

LifeLab’s developing young talent lead Kate Bartlett, said the idea for the pack was that it would help young people who might be unsure how to apply for experiences outside of school.

She said: “When we thought of pulling this resource together we had in mind school leavers who might have just signed off from secondary school and who have a long summer ahead of them.

“With lots of time already spent in lockdown and possibly isolation, we know young people are desperate to get back to normal life and start making the most of the opportunities that are out there.

“This pack gives young people the tools and tips they need to make their summer count, by engaging in work experience and volunteering opportunities. It was also great to speak to students who have already been involved in those opportunities so they could pass their insight on. We really hope young people will enjoy using the pack and would love to hear any feedback from those who do.”

Along with the pack, the LifeLab team will be sharing work experience and volunteering opportunities on their social media channels.

The team can be found on Instagram lifelab_soton, Twitter @LifelabSoton and Facebook @lifelabsouthampton . Get in touch with your feedback on email