Wales’ cabinet secretary for education has paid tribute to Wrexham Glyndwr University for its community work as the institution reinforced its partnership with a voluntary pioneer.

In a first for Wales, according to minister Kirsty Williams, the university and AVOW (Association of Voluntary Organisations in Wrexham) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) at the Catrin Finch Centre on Friday.

Mrs Williams praised the feeling of citizenship and community both parties want to instil in students, staff and the town, and said Wrexham Glyndwr is already in a positive position to capitalise on goodwill.

“We are a proud nation of strong caring communities and I wish the university and AVOW well with this partnership,” she said.

“You will both be seeking opportunities for academic collaboration, external funding and support for community outreach, engagement with schools and volunteer opportunities for students and staff, so I congratulate you on your ambition and wish you well with these endeavours.”

AVOW chair John Leece Jones said: “The signing of this MOU formalises the excellent working relationship that has existed for many years between the university and the third sector in Wrexham.

“AVOW is delighted to be involved with many individual departments at Wrexham Glyndwr and happy to assist by offering placements to students to further their studies in practical areas.”

Mr Leece Jones pointed to the successful new Dragontale project as an example of an initiative which is already in full flow.

The £500,000 National Lottery-funded project sees recovering drug and alcohol users aim to gather the biggest collection of stories of people’s lives in North Wales through radio, using a purpose-built purple van kitted out with professional broadcasting equipment.

University vice-chancellor Professor Maria Hinfelaar said: “One of the things AVOW and the university have spoken about is making sure we continue the flow of students on placements with member organisations and structure it better, so we do not miss one opportunity.

“It’s a win-win situation; the student picks up valuable learning and the host clearly benefits.”