Social Innovation Programme
Develop your consultancy skills and help your community. By working in teams, you can provide innovative solutions to challenges faced by charities and social enterprises across Bristol.'
Teaching Block 2, February-April, 3-5 hours per week
Various Bristol organisations
About the Social Innovation Programme
The Social Innovation Programme is an initiative for university students to address challenges in the local area through research, ideas generation and project development. It is delivered by Bristol Hub in partnership with the independent law firm, Burges Salmon.
The programme will run from February to April, during which you will work in a team of other students, alongside a local organisation or initiative. Acting as external consultants, you will propose recommendations for an innovative solution to a problem or challenge that organisation is currently facing.
Your team will put together a report for your organisation, based on your findings, detailing your research and recommendations for solutions to the brief you have been set. Your team will also deliver a presentation at a showcase event hosted by Burges Salmon.
Why should you get involved?
  • You will get to develop key professional skills, such as teamwork, project management and client management.
  • You will receive training from Burges Salmon, a law firm based in Bristol.
  • You will have a dedicated mentor from Burges Salmon, who will use their skills and expertise to support teams to deliver on the task.
  • You will challenge yourself by trying something new and working with a new group of people.
  • You will learn more about the social impact sector and the skills needed to pursue a career in it.
  • You will meet students from different years and different disciplines.
  • You will make an impact on a social impact organisation, the people they work with and the community.
What you need to know before you apply
The programme is open to undergraduate and postgraduate students, across all disciplines.
There are a few things you need to know before you apply:
  • There are 40 places on the scheme and you will be placed in a team of 5 to work on a brief. Each team will nominate a team leader who will be the main point of contact between the community partner and the team.
  • The programme is a commitment of 3-5 hours a week. Before you apply consider whether you are able to commit the amount of time needed for both you and the organisation you are working with to get the most out of the Social Innovation Programme.
  • You will need to be able to attend training sessions, the launch event and the showcase event to participate in the SIP.
How to apply
  • You will need to complete and submit an online application form.
  • If your application is successful you will be invited to a selection workshop. You will be asked to complete a team challenge through which we will assess a variety of skills including: communication, problem solving, teamwork, open-mindedness and creativity.
  • You don't need any specific experience to take part in the SIP - just an interest in the social impact sector and an eagerness to learn more about consulting and make a change in the community!
Have any questions about the application process or need reasonable adjustments made? Please contact Emma at We are inclusive and encouraging of all University of Bristol students who want to volunteer, and welcome BME, LGBT+ and Disabled applicants.
Key dates for the Social Innovation Programme
  • December 11th: Applications for the SIP open
  • January 21st: Applications for the SIP close at midnight.
  • January 24th-29th: Selection workshops
  • February 6th: Training and Launch Event hosted by Burges Salmon
  • March 22nd: Reports Due
  • April 25th: Showcase event hosted by Burges Salmon
There will also be support sessions from Bristol Hub for you to work on your reports and presentations. These are as follows:
  • Wednesday 14th February, 2pm-4pm: Intro to the Social Impact Sector
  • Wednesday 21st February, 2pm-3pm: Report Writing
  • Wednesday 28th February, 2pm-3.30pm: Problem-solving
  • Wednesday 14th February, 2pm-3pm: Presentation prep
Examples of previous challenges:
  • Bristol Refugee Rights challenged students to research the need in Bristol for a 'Move On' project to support refugees to integrate and thrive.
  • Bristol Hospitality Network challenged students to explore, present and propose the possibilities for setting up a social enterprise which would use the cooking skills of its clients to provide some form of paid culinary or catering service.
  • North Bristol Foodbank challenged students to create presentation and activity resources to take into schools in order to raise the profile of the North Bristol Foodbank as a service that either their families can access and/or a cause the pupils and their families can donate to.
Our Impact in 2016/17
In 2016/17 79 students and 13 organisations took part in the Social Innovation Programme.
What students say......
“Thanks for running the programme - it has been great and has massively increased my
confidence and I will definitely do more with Bristol Hub in the future!”
2016-17 participant
What organisations say.......
“It has been a great project for SARSAS to be a part of. We hope that the students got as much out of the experience as the organisation did.” SARSAS, 2017 partner organisation
Information for local organisations
We invite brief submissions from social impact organisations including: charities, social enterprises, community interest companies and community groups.
Our requirements for setting a challenge are:
  • A problem-solving task whose outcome would be beneficial to both your organisation and the local community.
  • The programme lasts for 10 weeks, so the brief must be something that is achievable within this timeframe.
  • Your organisation will need to attend the launch and closing event, as well as staying in contact with team throughout the duration of the programme. This will make sure that they can provide consulting for you that is appropriate, informed and effective.
If you're interested in submitting a brief contact Emma via to find out more.
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