In May 2017 Student Hubs celebrated our 10th Birthday. We’ve come a long way since our beginnings as a small group of students wanting to make the world a better place. Here are some highlights from our story.
Oxford University students have a long history of involvement in campaigns and causes, but in 2007 there was little coordination between different student projects and groups which limited their effectiveness as a force for change.
Our four founders set up Oxford Hub to tackle this problem, aiming to connect like-minded students with each other and with opportunities to take action.
Turl Street Kitchen and Tower House guest house are our sister social businesses, supporting the work of Student Hubs. Based in our founding city, Oxford, Turl Street Kitchen is committed to ‘good food doing good’ and providing a social space for social change for the local community. The Tower House is a 17th Century guesthouse in the heart of Oxford, providing a home away from home for visitors to the city.
We soon realised that there were too few opportunities for students to volunteer in their local community, so students’ skills and enthusiasm were left untapped. As a result we began supporting students to get their start-up volunteering projects off the ground, which greatly increased the number and range of ways that students could volunteer.
We enabled more and more students to get involved in social action activities during their time at university, and many were inspired to pursue a career in the not-for-profit sector. However, students told us that they were frustrated by a lack of routes in.
So, we set up the Social Impact Internship Scheme to provide students with work experience and training in the charity sector. We also co-founded the Emerge Social Enterprise Conference to inspire and support the next generation of social entrepreneurs.
With Hubs popping up across the UK, it was clear that something was working. When you bring together a community of students wanting to create positive change, you start to change the culture of universities themselves. We wanted to celebrate this impact, so we set up the Vice-Chancellor’s Awards for exceptional student social leaders.
We ran the Social Leadership Award, which recognised students that showed dedication to social action and learning about social issues.
92% of students in our network are more motivated to get involved in social action than previously.
In order to achieve long-term change, it is vital that students develop the skills they need to run sustainable and effective projects.
Alongside ongoing training opportunities, we organised the first student-led Impact Conference, to engage and train students nationwide. We also set up a social enterprise to promote the sustainability of our own organisation.
The Impact Conference brought together over 50 Universities from across the UK.
67% of our students plan to take further action in support of a cause that they care about.
Our sister restaurant, the Turl Street Kitchen, has celebrated its fifth birthday and now serves hundreds of people a day.
By 2012, we had grown to 27 members of staff and over 100 student leaders. This growth meant that we were better able to provide high-quality, tailored support for student social innovators and promote critical engagement with social and environmental issues amongst students.
So, we launched our Schools Plus programme as a pioneer in student volunteering and organised the first HubWorks bootcamp for student social innovators.
We began our partnership with the National Union of Students (NUS), coming together to run Student Volunteering Week, a nationwide celebration of the impact that students can have in their communities. This was a good opportunity for us to reflect on our six year history and the importance of what we had achieved.
Student Volunteering Week (2016) involved over 120 HE and FE institutions.
Over 500 Student Volunteering Week events took place, with thousands of students volunteering.
We launched new Hubs in Winchester and Kingston, increasing our reach and engagement in student social action and moving into more non-Russell Group universities. Winchester and Kingston are our first university requested Hubs – still student led, but offering programmes that help the respective university or students’ union enhance areas of delivery.
Also in 2014, Oxford Hub won the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, we got a new website, and we held our first Education Conference.
Our Hubs across England have reached over 30,000 students.
Our websites have received over 900,000 hits since relaunching at the beginning of the academic year.
Winchester and Kingston Hubs have a combined network of over 2,500 students, and support over 50 community projects.
2015 saw the launch of our new 5 year strategy for 2015 – 2020, as well as our new Theory of Change. The two together enable us to think longer term about our growth, activities and impact.
We also moved to an explicitly ‘double benefit’ model, which ensures that our activities have a positive impact on both students and communities. Watch the video below to learn more.
We have loads going on. Keep up to date with our activities on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, sign up to our national mailing list and see each Hub‘s mailing list for local opportunities.
You may also be interested in: