Students at the University of Suffolk are set to benefit from a new social space and café following the creation of a new partnership with a regional social enterprise charity.

The partnership will see the Student’s Union working with Lowestoft-based charity Access Community Trust (Access) and plans are already being developed in conjunction with students.

Earlier this month, the Student’s Union ran a competition to name the new social space and café with students opting for the name Mix.

The new student space will take over the vacant space in the James Hehir Building on Ipswich Waterfront and plans to open at the beginning of the new academic year in September.

Commenting on the partnership, Wesley Doyle, Project Co-ordinator for Access Community Trust said:

“Access Community Trust is delighted to be working in partnership with University of Suffolk and the Students’ Union to deliver a safe and all-inclusive social space for those attending the university campus.

“Access already operates a number of successful social enterprise cafes across the region, that promote social inclusion within their communities, and we look forward to increasing specialist student support, not only from ourselves but from other local charities which we proudly work with.

“This unique venue collaboration will offer a range of food, drinks, and events that enhances the student experience, it will also create employment opportunities for those studying at the campus and the wider local community.”

Students will be contributing to the development of the new social space and in addition to students voting on the new name, they are also being polled on a range of other factors including price points, food options, opening times, furniture, and décor.

Lewis Woolston, President of Education from the University of Suffolk’s Students’ Union, said:

“The Students’ Union is delighted to be working in collaboration with the University and Access Community Trust on this project – it is an exciting opportunity to create a vibrant and inclusive area for our student community.

“As an elected representative of the Students’ Union, I am making it our top priority to actively seek and prioritise student feedback, collaborating with Access to incorporate students’ ideas and suggestions to ensure that the transformed cafe space becomes a true reflection of what students want, with affordable pricing and student-centric amenities.”

Katie Pickard, President of Activities and Wellbeing from the University of Suffolk’s Students’ Union, said:

“We’re looking forward to unveiling the transformed space in the new academic year and witnessing the positive impact it will have on our students’ university experience.”

Mix marks the latest step in the University’s investment in its facilities, following last month’s official opening of the £13 million new Health and Wellbeing Building.

Nigel Lucker, Director of Estates at the University of Suffolk, said:

“It is a very exciting time to join the University of Suffolk, and the new social and catering space in the James Hehir Building will give students a vibrant and inclusive place to meet, socialise, eat, and drink.

“We are committed to ensuring our students enjoy the best facilities, and our ambitious future plans will continue to bolster the student experience.

“Access Community Trust does brilliant work in Suffolk and East Anglia, and we are excited to see the offer they develop with the Students’ Union for the new academic year.”