I am excited to launch our Impact Report for 2015-16, created in partnership with The Social Investment Consultancy (TSIC). Last year we rewrote our Theory of Change, narrowing our focus on the dual impact we intend to have on students and the local communities they work in, as well as the long-term impact we have on young people’s behaviour. Our Impact Report measures our progress towards these new outcomes for the first time and we are delighted with the results.
There is a growing demand for our work from young people, communities and policy makers. Recent NCVO research shows that in 2015/16, rates of regular formal volunteering among young people have increased by 4% compared to the previous year, which is the highest since 2003. Similarly, the UK government has committed to ongoing support for the #iwill campaign and £80m of funding to support youth social action projects.
Universities do not have the resources or expertise to fulfil this demand alone. We partner with universities, providing knowledge and a national network that enable us to support social action programmes in multiple locations at high cost efficiency. We provide students with opportunities to take part in and lead volunteering projects in their community, work in teams as consultants for local social impact organisations, set up their own social ventures and intern in charities and social enterprises across the country. Our work is high quality, following the six principles outlined by Step up to Serve.
Behaviour change is at the core of what we do, so we are very pleased that a quarter of the 2,192 students we supported in 2015-16 had not been involved in social action before. It’s also fantastic to see that 92% of students felt their involvement improved their ability to lead others to make change, and 97% reported an improved experience of university. In addition, the report highlights that 91% of our community partners benefited from specifically engaging with students.
I’m proud of our achievements in the last year, but we are always looking for ways to improve. As well as increasing access to our opportunities and developing our data collection processes, we will now be focusing on measuring our graduate outcomes, so that we can start proving our long-term impact.
David Reed, Director of the youth social action coalition Generation Change, says: “Many universities offer volunteering services, but often see only a small cohort of committed students take up opportunities during their degree. Student Hubs has been very effective at growing cultures of participation amongst students by giving students themselves the means to create and lead opportunities to make a difference in their communities. The step change that universities see after working with Student Hubs has been dramatic. The reason for this success is that the Student Hubs network sets very high standards for achieving impact. This means it can offer high quality opportunities, both locally and nationally, through which students really see benefits for themselves and others.”