Our Social Hackathons programme ran throughout Reading Week in November. Through these events, UCL students collaborated with local charities and community organisations to help solve their most pressing issues.

3rd year History, Politics and Economics student Philippine Levy took part in her first Social Hackathon at the Museum of Brands which examines the history of consumer culture from Victorian times to the present day. The volunteers were asked to come up with creative ways for the museum to engage with adults aged 25-35 who live within a 30 minute travel time of the museum.

Tell us what you did!

I had a great time at the Museum of Brands where we were asked to come up with a strategy to generate visitors and a higher awareness of the museum. When we arrived at the museum, we were given a presentation of the museum’s existing strategy to boost local audiences. After the presentation we were divided into two groups, the social media group and the events group.

The former was asked to come up with a way to advertise the museum on social media platforms. Since taking pictures wasn’t allowed at the museum the group came up with some exciting innovative ideas – go check out Candace’s blog where she writes about her group’s strategy.  

My group, the events group, was responsible to think of short-term and long-term events the museum could organise to attract more visitors. Short-term events could be either film, music or game nights where the museum’s big garden could be put to use in a clever way.

Our long-term event idea is to create a time-capsule, which was really exciting. Since the museum has a huge collection of brands and packs from the Victorian era, we were thinking it would be great to put some contemporary items in a time capsule so future visitors can discover how well-loved brands evolved through their creative use of packaging and advertising – and how we evolved with them.


What made you decide to sign up for this Social Hackathon?

Volunteering makes me feel like I did something valuable and it can also be a nice distraction from my studies! The great thing about Social Hackathons is that they don’t require too much commitment; it’s simply one day where you can make a change and have an impact on your community. I'm also thinking of going into the Charity sector once I graduate so this is a great way to boost my CV.

Were there any challenges?

Since we did not know much about the museum and had no experience in marketing it was challenging at first. However, the staff at the museum were super friendly and really encouraged us to go crazy with our ideas. They reassured us that not having a background in marketing was a good thing since we can bring value by looking at the task from a consumer perspective.    

Would you recommend doing a Social Hackathon to others?

I think the Social Hackathons are a great way to get out of your student routine and develop different skills like team work and problem-solving skills, so I would definitely recommend it. Unlike with your degree at times, you can see the immediate impact and effect the Social Hackathon events have on the organisation and the community.

My tip for other volunteers is not to be afraid of doing things you’ve never done before. Everyone is really welcoming and enthusiastic so there is nothing to be anxious about! Just give it a try and I am sure you’ll enjoy yourself as much as I did!

Social Hackathons are a great way to get out of your student routine and try something new, which also has a positive impact on your community. 

If Philippine's story has got you inspired to volunteer with Museum of Brands - check out all their current opportunities. We’ve also got lots of Museum and Galleries related roles as well, so you have lots to choose from! 

You can also find out more about our Social Hackathons and let us know if you’d like to be contacted ahead of the next events!