Student Hubs recieves grant from the Pears #iwill Fund to engage more students

Posted on: 6 February 2020

We’re delighted to announce that Student Hubs has recently been awarded a grant by the Pears #iwill Fund. This funding is to explore expanding our work to students who are less likely to have been involved before in social action. 

Student Hubs works in partnership with universities to provide social action programmes for students. Our work includes long-term volunteering in the local community: running free extra-curricular activities for disadvantaged children, befriending older people and tackling educational disadvantage through academic tutoring in schools. We train up teams of students to act as consultants for local charities through our Social Innovation Programme. We also provide in-curriculum social action opportunities, where students engage with the local community as part of their assessed learning. 

This funding will allow us to invest in growing our network to universities with more diverse student populations. We are looking to work with institutions with a higher proportion of young people who are under-represented in higher education and who are unlikely to have volunteered before.

Student Hubs’s mission is to mainstream student social action. Mainstreaming requires engaging young people who haven’t previously been involved in social action, and those who wouldn’t normally consider it. We won’t achieve our mission if we only reach students who are already engaged, empowered and able to access social action. This means working in universities with more diverse student populations and offering in-curriculum as well as extra-curricular opportunities, as well as our ongoing work to improve the accessibility and inclusivity of our programmes.

We have been exploring how we can achieve our aim of mainstreaming social action through our programmes for the last few years. Last year we piloted Service Learning in a number of courses at Kingston University. Service Learning combines academic study in the curriculum with practical experience and community service. We are integrating Service Learning with assessed modules, giving students the opportunity to take part in social action within their timetable. This opens up social action to young people whose free time is limited, for example by commuting, caring responsibilities or the need to undertake paid work.

We also introduced sports volunteering two years ago in our Bristol and Southampton Hubs. Our ‘Active’ programmes support student volunteers to lead sports-focussed activities and mentor young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. The programme particularly targets male volunteers who may not otherwise be participating in social action, but who may be involved in sports for leisure purposes. 62% of student volunteers on our Active programmes last year had not volunteered at all, or not regularly, before.

We’re excited to announce this Pears #iwill funding during Student Volunteering Week. Not only is this week a great opportunity to celebrate the amazing work of student volunteers, but across the network we’re offering a number of one-off opportunities that will get many students volunteering for the first time.

The #iwill Fund is made possible thanks to £40 million joint investment from The National Lottery Community Fund and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to support young people to access high quality social action opportunities. The #iwill Fund brings together a group of organisations who all contribute funding to embed meaningful social action into the lives of young people.

The #iwill Fund supports the aims of the #iwill campaign – to make involvement in social action a part of life for young people, by recognising the benefit for both young people and their communities.

We’re grateful for the support of the Pears #iwill Fund as we take the next step towards mainstreaming student social action, by growing our network and offering our opportunities to more students.

We’re currently looking for new university partners. If you’re a higher education institution wanting to find out more about the benefits social action can have for your students’ retention, employability and university experience, please get in touch with us at

Pippa Smith

Pippa is Student Hubs' CEO. She leads on strategy, governance, finance, fundraising and external relations. Pippa started her social action journey as a student volunteer with Cambridge Hub.

Tags: Higher Education, News, Social Action, Third Sector

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