Last January, we launched the Social Innovation Programme (SIP) at Winchester Hub and over the past 17 months we have run four cohorts, supporting 14 community groups to tackle challenges they are currently facing. 68 students have worked to research, problem-solve and provide new perspectives to real-world issues, whilst connecting with the community. Today, we want to reflect on the impact we have had so far, and the things we have learnt through the pandemic.

Our Impact

Feedback is collected from students and community partners at the end of each cohort. This is primarily done through a questionnaire about the activity, and we also collect case studies and conduct interviews every year. At the end of the academic year we assess the programme thoroughly to measure the extent to which our projects meet its outcomes and that we are continuing to offer high-quality volunteering experiences for both students and community members.

Within the 2020-21 cohorts so far, we collated data from our student feedback. We have found:

100% of students agreed or strongly agreed that they developed professional skills from the Social Innovation Programme.

Throughout the programme students receive weekly training, and additional resources, in the following skills:

  • Professional Communication
  • Project Management
  • Teamwork
  • Leadership
  • Problem Solving
  • Report Writing and Presenting

Kwakyewaa volunteered with Badger Farm Community Centre to find innovative ways to re-brand and become more inclusive in their image.

“The Social Innovation Programme has been very beneficial to me as I have learnt so much... It has taught me how to work effectively within a team as well as how to improve my communication skills, tend to deadlines, etc. Training on project management, problem-solving and has also been very beneficial for report writing. I am very happy I joined this programme as I have not only learnt things to improve, but I have also had the opportunity to make an impact on a voluntary organisation. Thank you for this opportunity!” - Kwakyewaa, Business Undergraduate

100% of students agreed or strongly agreed that the work their team produced would positively impact the organisation they consulted for.

Each team works with a community partner on a challenge they are currently facing but don't have the capacity to research themselves. For example, Ayanna and her team supported Move Momentum to think up creative online engagement opportunities to use throughout their fundraiser in March, which went on to raise £6,000.

"It is a way to meet new people of different subjects and years and work together as teams to complete and create projects. I have enjoyed this programme as I have met so many great people and I learned about organisations I haven't heard of before." - Ayanna, Fashion Media and Marketing Undergraduate

100% of students agreed or strongly agreed that their participation in SIP increased their confidence in approaching challenges.

Throughout the programme we support students to reflect, build new skills and communicate with each other. There is a strong support network between staff, our student coordinator, and students in order to allow everyone to feel like they can thrive during their cohort.

92% of students agreed or strongly agreed that participation in SIP enhanced their university experience.

In a time where it is hard to meet new people, and engage past you degree at university, the Social Innovation Programme has provided participants the chance to utilise skills from their degree, and connect with their local community.

Elizabeth is a mature student who took part to make a difference. She and her team supported the Diocese of Portsmouth to create an environmental audit of their parishes and schools.

“Taking part in the Social Innovation Programme has been eye-opening to the issues that our local area are facing. It has made me more grounded and given me a new appreciation for life. It's also allowed me to meet lovely like-minded people who share a passion for helping others and making the world a better place ... It is well worth doing, alongside academic studies.” - Elizabeth, Law Undergraduate

How to get involved going forward

If you are a student interested in the Social Innovation Programme, sign up to be a part of our summer cohort 2021! It will be running from June - July, and deadline to apply is the 4th of June. Read about the Social Innovation Programme in more detail and apply today. If you would like to register your interest for the Autumn cohort, please contact [email protected].

If you are a community group (i.e. community centre, charity, social enterprise, start up, etc.) interested in having a brief in the next cohort, please contact Sorcha at [email protected] to discuss next steps.