• Phil Packer

Chair of the UUK Mental Health in Higher Education Working Group champions the BRIT 2021 Challenge

We are sincerely grateful to Professor Steve West CBE DL for all his support over the past two years to champion and promote our annual BRIT Challenges.


In late December 2020, our Founder and Non-Paid CEO, Phil Packer, wrote to every UK Vice-Chancellor and invited them to unite in support of young adult mental health by promoting the BRIT 2021 Challenge and sharing the opportunity to enter teams with their students and staff.


Universities UK (UUK) have provided immeasurable support by writing to the Head of Communications at every UK university with details of the BRIT 2021 Challenge, asking them to promote the event throughout their institutions.


We have continue to receive tremendous support from Professor Julia Buckingham CBE, President of UUK, Alistair Jarvis, Chief Executive of UUK, John de Pury, Assistant Director of Policy, Michael Thompson, Deputy Director of Communications & External Relations, and Clara Plackett, Senior Press and Communications Officer.


In his capacity as Chair of the UUK Mental Health in Higher Education Working Group, Steve has recently written to every UK Vice-Chancellor and encouraged them to embrace the BRIT 2021 Challenge at their university for the following reasons;

  • Registration is free and with a little coordination and promotion, their students and staff can take part; be they on campus or at home.

  • BRIT has partnered with Student Minds, PAPYRUS, Nightline and the Charlie Waller Trust so they will all benefit from the vital funds raised.

  • UUK, amongst many other education governing bodies including the CUC, AoC, Colegau Cymru, Colleges Scotland and NUS are partnering with the British Inspiration Trust (BRIT) to embrace, champion and promote their BRIT 2021 Challenge.

  • There are many fundraising events and causes that their institutions support, however this is a unique and visionary opportunity for every UK university and college to showcase their collaboration and collective strength in support of young adult mental health.

  • BRIT is inviting British sporting icons (Olympians, Paralympians, sports personalities, adventurers and explorers) to choose a university or college and inspire and enthuse their students and staff to take part; this is also a great opportunity to reengage with their sporting alumni. By registering a team, sporting icons can then engage their students with video messages and through social media. At a time when we all need some inspiration, this has huge potential for success if we all get behind the challenge.

Steve is Vice-Chancellor, President and CEO of the University of the West of England, Bristol.


He is Non-Executive Director for the Office for Students and Chair of the UUK Mental Health in Higher Education Working Group.


Steve is also Chair of the West of England LEP, Chair of the West of England Academic Health Science Network and Non-Executive Director for the University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust.


Steve is a Deputy Lieutenant for the County of Gloucestershire and was made Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2017, for services to Higher Education.


“Universities across the country are increasingly focusing on how we can engage with and support more effectively our staff and student communities. We do this in partnership with many other organisations and people. The British Inspiration Trust (BRIT) delivers inspirational opportunities for our communities to come together to raise awareness, have fun and raise money for the charities who help us to improve mental health. What sets BRIT apart, and why universities across the UK should come together with FE colleges to take on BRIT’s Challenges, is their collaborative approach to unite institutions in support of young adult mental health. In light of COVID-19, we need BRIT’s 2021 Challenge to complement our own support to students, and staff, in order to improve mental and physical health. I ask every Vice-Chancellor and College Principal to embrace, support and promote the BRIT 2021 Challenge as a feel-good fundraising event for students and staff to take part in and improve their mental health and fitness; be that on campus or at home. As Vice-Chancellors, we have the ability to increase participation and fundraising capability by providing resources to our students, writing to our alumni and encouraging business partners to donate. If ever there was a time to come together and underpin BRIT’s collectively powerful approach, it is now.” Professor Steven West CBE DL Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of the West of England (UWE) Bristol Chair of Universities UK Mental Health in Higher Education Working Group