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Charity Debating Challenge in Durham - Second Chance Debate


For the eighth year in a row, the country’s leading academic debating Union at Durham University is working with charity Changing Lives to give vulnerable adults the chance of a life-time experience.

Changing Lives Clients enjoy direct access to the University’s Debating Chamber sitting between the Castle and the Cathedral in Palace Green. For six weeks, the student volunteers teach clients specialist debating knowledge, rhetorical skills and techniques in a magnificent setting.

Through the Second Chance Programme, charity Changing Lives, and Experience Durham work with people experiencing social exclusion such as homelessness and recovery from addictions, to provide opportunities which develop new skills and support journeys towards independence.
“The course took me well outside my comfort zone. I’d never been very good at public speaking as I was scared I would look foolish in front of people.”
-James, Client
“Coaching has been a brilliant experience for me as well as the clients. Hearing different views from people with different backgrounds has really broadened my knowledge and perspective on debating.” - Claire, Student
Sponsor a Homeless Speaker—we need your support
 £20 to pay for a place at the final debate dinner
 £50 to pay for a formal suit for the final debate
 £100 to support the debate training
 £5000 to support a participant from alcohol addiction through 12 weeks of abstinence based recovery services
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I’d never stood up in front of so many people before, or been the centre of attention. I was really nervous, but was proud that I was able to stand up and speak in front of everyone.
-Jo, Client
At the beginning of the course many of our clients are totally unaware of their body language, and how it effects their ability to communicate effectively. During the course some become aware of this and develop new styles of communication which is less aggressive and more assertive. The result of synergistic learning is always present and the combination of University students and our residents, provide a mixture of experiences from which both benefit greatly.
This course enables pride and achievement on a level that many of us may take for granted. However our residents realise, if not during the course certainly at the end, when they wear their tuxedos, stand before a very large group of people, and calmly and deliberately state their findings for the debate. Our clients leave this experience with a more accepting and therefore healthy view of society.
I enjoyed the challenge of meeting new people and doing something I had never done before. Being disciplined to listen to another person’s point of view was something I’d never really considered before. - Ben, client