Student Hubs receives funding to help young people make a difference in their community through sport and social action

Posted on: 24 November 2017

#iwill, DCMS, National Lottery and Sport England Logos

Student Hubs has been given £146,957 from Sport England and the #iwill Fund to help young people use sport to make a positive difference in their communities – all thanks to funding from the National Lottery.

Sport England and the #iwill Fund are creating more opportunities for 10-20 year-olds to get involved in social action and use sport and physical activity as a way to benefit others in their local area. The #iwill fund is made possible thanks to joint funding from the government and Big Lottery Fund using money raised by National Lottery players.

#iwill Week 2017, which runs from November 20-24, celebrates young people who lead social action and their capacity for bringing others together.  The week marks the fourth anniversary of the campaign and is all about shining a light on the impact that young people are having, as well as the great work of the 700+ #iwill partners who’ve pledged to create more social action opportunities.

Currently 4 in 10 young people get involved in activities that make a positive difference. However, research indicates many more have an appetite to be involved but cite a lack information and opportunities as key barriers. [1]

Sport attracts many young people and can provide a springboard to social action. Just over half of young people say they prefer sport to any other volunteering pastimes. The Sport England Potentials Fund aims to unlock the potential that young people have whilst also developing the skills and experience they need for their own future.

This funding will enable Student Hubs to place 440 university students aged 18-20 with limited or no experience of volunteering into youth social action opportunities. These opportunities will use sport to attract students who would not normally consider giving back to the community. University students will support children and young people in their local community who are in the care system or are underachieving at school.

This project will build on two existing Hub volunteering programmes, Branch Up and Empower. By broadening their scope to include sport activities, we will reach more children. The project will follow our successful network model of scale, where one of our local Hubs takes the lead on delivering the project, distilling the learning and sharing their knowledge and expertise with other Hubs. We will initially deliver this project in Oxford City (with Oxford and Brookes University students) in Year 1, and then roll out the scheme in Southampton (Y1), Bristol (Y2) and Kingston (Y3).

This initiative fits into Student Hubs’ 2015-20 strategy, which focuses on working in partnership with UK universities to deliver student-led social action activities. Our volunteering, skilled placements and incubation programmes have a double benefit on students and the communities involved. Learn more in our Impact Report.

Student Hubs’ CEO Francis Wight said:

“We are thrilled to receive this funding. Thank you to Sport England, the #iwill Fund and National Lottery players for supporting more students to take part in social action and have a transformative impact in their communities.”

Sport England’s Director of Sport Phil Smith said:

“Through social action young people can help others get active and benefit themselves in lots of ways; social action can do wonders for job and career prospects, mental health and making friends.

“That’s why volunteering and social action is a key part of Sport England’s new strategy, Towards an Active Nation. We’re delighted to be helping Student Hubs enable more young people to be the catalysts for change in their neighbourhood.

“It’s one of 32 projects in which Sport England is investing over £4 million to support volunteering projects and opportunities between now and 2021. These projects will test various different approaches, with the ultimate aim being a larger number and more diverse volunteers. We are targeting people who are currently less likely to volunteer in sport, such as women, disabled people, people from BAME groups and people on a low income.”

The #iwill campaign is run by the charity Step Up To Serve. Its Chief Executive, Dr Rania Marandos, said:

“Young people across the country often start their social action journey through community sport. Sport has the potential to enable even more young people to make a contribution to their communities whilst developing their own skills and wellbeing. It is fantastic to see such a range of projects receive funding through the #iwill campaign’s partnership with Sport England in support of our collective aim of making meaningful social action part of life for more 10 to 20-year-olds.”

[1] Source: Youth Social Action in the UK – 2015: a face to face survey of 10-20 year-olds in the UK, conducted by Ipsos MORI.


For more details about the project, please contact Sara Fernandez on

For more information on Sport England’s volunteering strategy please visit:

Contact Sport England at: 020 7273 1593 / 020 7273 1800.

About the #iwill campaign and the #iwill Fund

The #iwill campaign is a UK-wide movement aiming to make involvement in meaningful social action (e.g. fundraising, volunteering and campaigning) part of life for 10-20 year olds by the year 2020.

The #iwill Fund is independent from the campaign, but supports its aims. It is a joint investment by Big Lottery Fund and the Department of Culture, Media & Sport – each has committed £20 million up to 2020 to support the creation of high quality social action opportunities for young people.

The #iwill campaign is being coordinated by the charity Step Up To Serve. It was launched in 2013 after Government research into how the business, education, public and voluntary sectors could support young people, aged of 10 and 20, to engage in social action (campaigning, fundraising and volunteering).

HRH The Prince of Wales is the Patron of Step Up To Serve, and the #iwill campaign. To date more than 750 organisations from across UK society have pledged to support the campaign goal of enabling young people to get involved in social action, wherever they live and whatever their background.

More information can be found at and @iwill_campaign.

About Sport England

Sport England is a public body and invests more than £300 million National Lottery and government money each year in projects and programmes that help people get active and play sport. It wants everyone in England, regardless of age, background, or level of ability, to feel able to engage in sport and physical activity. That’s why a lot of its work is specifically focused on helping people who do no, or very little, physical activity and groups who are typically less active – like women, disabled people and people on lower incomes.

About Big Lottery Fund

Big Lottery Fund uses money raised by National Lottery players to help communities achieve their ambitions. From small, local projects to UK-wide initiatives, our funding brings people together to make a difference to their health, wellbeing and environment. Since June 2004 we have awarded £8.5 billion to projects that improve the lives of millions of people.

Molly Whyte

Molly is Student Hubs' Communications Manager and a postgraduate student at King's College London. She joined the staff team in 2015, having been involved with Southampton Hub since 2012. You can find her on Twitter: @molly_whyte.

Tags: Social Action

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