Social Innovation Programme

Develop your consultancy skills and help your community. Work with other students to provide innovative solutions to challenges faced by charities and social enterprises across Bristol.

Informaton icon Develop your consultancy skills and help your community. Work with other students to provide innovative solutions to challenges faced by charities and social enterprises across Bristol.

Location icon Various Bristol Organisations

Clock icon October- December

About the Social Innovation Programme

The Social Innovation Programme is run by Bristol Hub in partnership with the independent law firm, Burges Salmon. It is an initiative which brings together students and local social impact organisations to work on a challenge the organisation is facing.

It is an opportunity for students to apply the skills learnt throughout their degree to a tangible situation and have a positive impact on the local community.

What will I be doing?

The programme will run in term 1, between October And December. Students work in teams of 5, alongside a local organisation or initiative. Your team will receive a brief from the organisation and over the 9 weeks, you will put together a report for your organisation, based on your findings, detailing your research and recommendations for solutions to their challenge.

You'll be working closely with your organisation throughout the programme, finding out more about them, their work and the broader social context of the challenges they are facing. You'll be conducting background research, looking at secondary data and other resources, as well as collecting primary data, whether this is through interviews, focus groups or surveys. The scope of the programme is broad and much of the work will be self-directed. You'll be guided and supported by your team mentor from Burges Salmon, and you will receive training from Bristol Hub and Burges Salmon.

As well as producing a report that will be an invaluable asset to your organisation, you'll present your findings at a showcase event at Burges Salmon - the perfect opportunity to practice one of those all important professional skills!

Why should you get involved?

  • You will develop key professional skills, such as teamwork, project management and client management.

  • You'll get an insight into the working world, both through working with Burges Salmon and your community partner.

  • 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.


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 25 places on the scheme - it is competitive! So take time on your application, and prepare for your selection workshop.

  • We'll endeavour to match you with an organisation that you're interested in, but also a brief that fits with your skillset.

  • 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 charities taking part, 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.


Key Dates:

  • 9th October: Selection workshop for successful applicants
  • 16th October: Mentor training
  • 23rd October: Launch event
  • 28th October: Leadership training for Team Leaders
  • 30th October: Training - Intro to social impact, project management and data analysis
  • 6th November: Training - Report writing
  • Slots to book in 1-1s with Lydia, Bristol Hub Manager to do a mid-programme review
  • 27th November: Training - Presentation skills and public speaking
  • 4th December: Deadline for reports
  • 11th December: Showcase event

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 access@bristolhub.org. We are inclusive and encouraging of all University of Bristol students who want to volunteer, and welcome BME, LGBT+ and Disabled applicants.


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 a 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 2018/18

In 2017/18 25 students and 5 organisations took part in the Social Innovation Programme.

What students say......

“The content of the activity was meaningful, and we had support from the mentor, which was really helpful. Team members supported each other, shared ideas and thoughts and the result of our report is useful for the organisation - that's fab!” - SIP student participant” 2018-19 participant

What organisations say.......

*"It's so useful to have volunteers from outside our organisation to provide a fresh, creative set of solutions. The students came up with some unexpected ideas, and really got involved in the brief I gave them. We have already started to rethink our marketing strategy based on their suggestions.” - 2018-2019 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 9 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 manager@bristolhub.org to find out more.

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Strategic Partner

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