Students Staff

10 March 2020

How we’re making aspirations happen

Filed under: Latest news — Laura Mathias @ 1:41 pm

We chat to Stephen Pomfret, Head of Collaborative Outreach for Make Happen, part of the Uni Connect outreach programme, run by the Office for Students and based here at the University of Essex.

What kind of work have you been doing this week?
I have just taken up my new role. I’m the new Head of Collaborative Outreach for ‘Make Happen’, the regional Uni Connect (formerly NCOP) programme, having just taken over from Danielle Booth. So, I’m getting to grips with some new tasks, projects and responsibilities…so far, so good.

Stephen from Outreach team

Stephen Pomfret

What kind of roles did you do before joining Make Happen?
My previous role was leading on Make Happen’s monitoring and evaluation. Prior to that, I have worked in access and participation at other institutions. I first became involved in outreach as a student ambassador, I then worked as an outreach officer before moving into the evaluation and the strategic elements of access and participation.

How has Make Happen been making a difference to young people in Essex since it began in 2017?
Working with our partnership 66 schools and 11 colleges from specific postcodes, on successful completion of the first phase of Make Happen in 2019 we had reached 66,500 students across Essex where progression to higher education is lower than expected given the GCSE results of the area, through events, workshops, tours – all kinds of activities.

Make Happen phase two has been running since August 2019, and continues until July 2021, delivering a varied programme of activities to the same partner schools and colleges. All of this work has been supported by continuous evaluation and data analysis to provide a rigorous evidence base for the programme’s effectiveness.

What are you looking forward to in your new role, and what do you think will be the challenges?
Beyond July 2021 Uni Connect, and Make Happen as its regional base in Essex, will become one of a network of outreach hubs serving more schools across Essex. We offer support and activities but also signpost to services. So, while there are changes ahead, I’m looking forward to the challenge of ensuring a smooth transition, as well as delivering and evaluating all our activities while still operating ‘business as usual’.

What kind of tasks have you been doing recently?
Two new staff members have started who I have been working with, as well as continuing to implement our new CRM system. We’re also launching our new website ( to help share good news and good practice, and better signpost students, teachers and carers to other sources of support.

The new website also has a teacher’s community sign-in area with Make Happen documents and a communications toolkit to help teachers, and we’re launching a new newsletter soon.

Plus, we’ve been telling our partners about the recent name change from NCOP (the National Collaborative Outreach Programme) to Uni Connect.

Name three things you love about your job…

1. Working with the team! We have a fantastic team of Collaborative Outreach Officers who deliver brilliant content across the county. Behind the scenes is an equally brilliant team of admin and evaluation support as well the senior team.

2. Seeing the impact on students; especially on long-term projects and sustained interventions, the difference is fantastic to see.

3. Being a part of something that makes a difference –  it’s lovely to know that everything we do is with the purpose of supporting schools, colleges and students across the region.

…and one you don’t!

Sometimes having to say ‘no!’

Check out the team’s new website to find out more about the programme of support for local students.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The University of Essex will moderate comments and there will be a delay before any posts appear.