The Social Innovation Programme aims to help non-profit organisations across Bristol who are looking for additional business support. Student volunteers work in teams alongside a local organisation or initiative, acting as external consultants to propose and implement solutions to a problem, such as under-staffing, product ideas and customer service. Students work through research, ideas generation and project development. For local charities, its an invaluable opportunity for fresh ideas and a new pair of eyes on challenging problems. Last year alone we matched 30 students with a range of organisations across Bristol, including Bristol Hospitality Network, Avon Lawrence Weston Youth Club, for Young People One25, North Bristol Food Bank, Windmill Hill City Farm, Barton Hill Settlement and Bristol Refugee Rights.

Students are selected for the programme and supported with training and mentoring. The period of consultancy lasts approximately one term (each student contributing around 40 hours), with the possibility of extension. At the end of their consultancies, students are given further support to pursue a career in the third sector. For local charities, the ideas generated and the research carried out by the teams can be an invaluable stepping stone to progressing the work they do with some of society’s most vulnerable populations.
“I know from first-hand experience that the young people really will benefit from the new activities that the students suggested. The volunteer-team came up with really relevant solutions to our problems: that was the best bit about it for me. They asked lots of questions and really got to the bottom of the problem before presenting a really exciting & viable solution to our current problems. Considering the small amount that I had to invest in the programme, the potential return is pretty awesome to be honest”.
Ben Doherty, Avon Club for Young People, Lawrence Weston
If you are a non-profit organisation based in Bristol and would like to host a group of student consultants, we would like to hear from you. Our requirements for setting a challenge are:
  • A problem-solving task whose outcome would be beneficial to both your organisation and the local community
  • The initial timeframe of the challenge should be able to take place over the space of a Bristol term (around 8 weeks, from late January to late March)
  • Your organisation should be prepared to put in 2-3 short sessions to brief students and give feedback, as well as e-mail contact for questions from students as they arise. This will make sure that they can provide consulting for you that is appropriate, informed and effective.