How Cambridge Hub is innovating through skilled placements
This Spring, Student Hubs have launched an ‘Innovation Fund’, which is designed to raise funds that will allow us to invest in our staff team, who facilitate and develop new opportunities for students to get involved with.
For many students and local organisations, the past year and the upcoming year is going to be difficult to navigate. Students are under a lot of pressure, in various ways, and for many, volunteering is not a luxury they can always afford. At the same time, local communities have been overwhelmed with complex situations, facing new challenges, and exacerbated difficulties already felt in tackling social issues and barriers for disadvantaged people.
Investing in us means contributing to producing innovative solutions for these challenges: listening attentively to our community partners and providing tailored responses to support them and add capacity to their organisations, according to their needs and priorities; and ensuring that all students can access volunteering opportunities that we know have a great impact on their mental wellbeing, graduate outcomes, and overall transferable skill development.
Our wide range of opportunities include practical volunteering, events and skilled placements. In this blog, we’ll have a deeper look at how we are innovating through our skilled placements: Engage for Change, Social Innovation Programme and Impact Labs. Through these programmes, we mentor students to engage with their local community and provide them with weekly training and support.
Our Skilled Placements
Innovation is at the heart of everything we do. Cambridge Hub is an innovative and resilient organisation, quickly adapting and responding to student and community needs and we have shown this during the pandemic: following our twelve years of experience at Cambridge, we were able to pilot virtual delivery over the Easter term in 2020, and since then we have been running all our programmes virtually.
Engage for Change
Our recent development of our Engage for Change Programme highlights further what your donation can allow us to do. This programme allows students to develop skills in environmental activism and advocacy while they choose a project to work on that is aligned to the University Strategy. With additional investment, we were able to develop this programme to support more students overall and across the year, develop and improve the content of the programme, and provide additional 1 on 1 support to the students. This work allows a safe and empowering space to be facilitated to inspire innovation, and allows us as an organisation to support Universities and students respond to the climate crisis by equipping them with long lasting skills that they will use throughout their careers and personal lives.
Through our Engage for Change Programme, this academic year we have supported over 50 students. In a recent evaluation survey, 100% of students on this programme said that participating had improved their wellbeing, and 81% said they have gained access to opportunities they wouldn’t have otherwise had without participation. This shows how important the work is that we do for students and why your investment can and will help even more students as we exit lockdown and figure out the next year.
Social Innovation Programme (SIP)
Our Social Innovation Programme allows students to work collaboratively with organisations in the community to develop solutions to local community issues in the social and environmental space. The programme facilitates students on a journey to explore leadership, team work, coming up with innovative solutions, and make a real world impact. This year our student teams have worked on 8 community projects with local charities, CICs and social enterprises. From proposing a digital history project on women of Cambridge, to figuring out the best strategy for a charity shop to move online, our students have had to step back, think outside the box and propose creative ways for their community partners to approach these challenges. We use the Design Council’s framework for innovation, the Double Diamond, to show students how to go about innovating — it’s been instrumental in getting them in the right frame of mind.
Our Impact Labs programme invites third sector organisations to propose an impact measurement challenge to a team of postgraduate students. Impact measurement is fundamental to proving and improving an organisation’s work, and again innovation is at the heart of these projects. The teams have been working on developing theories of change, collecting impact data and developing impact measurement frameworks. Collecting impact data can be challenging and being innovative about the methods and processes to do this effectively has been instrumental in our teams succeeding.
So far this year, we have worked with 110 students and 12 community partners just through our skilled placements. Our students reported that:
- 90% said it improved their ability to make change
- 94% said it enhanced their university experience
- 92% said it increased their wellbeing.
You can view two case studies of our skilled placements here, featuring Lewechi Nkata from Engage for Change and Sofiyah Rasool from the Social Innovation Programme.
What will your money go towards?
If you decide to donate to Student Hubs, whether it’s £2 or £2000, your donation will go directly to allowing us to continue providing opportunities for students to support their local community at this challenging time.
This includes staff time, network support to develop our work, and ensuring we can continue this work. We want to continue to innovate across the board, ensuring our opportunities are accessible, exciting, and worthwhile for students. For example, a donation of just £50 would allow one student to access a week of training and support on SIP at Cambridge Hub.
How can you donate?
You can donate by going to studenthubs.org/donate, through our Total Giving platform here or by text.
Text CLEMENTINE to 70085 to donate £2, TANGERINE to 70085 to donate £5 or MANDARIN to 70085 to donate £10 (texts cost the donation amount plus one standard message rate).