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

2nd year Mathematics student Rhea Alexander attended Fulham Good Neighbours, supporting the small charity by researching the practicalities of setting up a trading subsidiary. Check out her story below!

What did you do at your Hackathon?

My Hackathon experience was with Fulham Good Neighbours, who are a small charity, and our aim was to look into the idea of setting up a trading subsidiary for them. This meant they would offer paid services to local residents and would use that profit to subsidise charitable services for people in the community who are unable to afford them. They didn’t have the time to set up and research the benefits or drawbacks of a subsidiary, so they wanted us volunteers to spend a day researching whether it is a feasible idea or not and how they should go about it.

How did you find the experience?

Considering I’m not a big fan of group projects, I really enjoyed this one! Especially because everyone took part and made contributions. Also, I think actually being there physically made a huge difference. If I was at home and had a skype call with everyone, I would not have been as motivated, but because we had the team there, I think we accomplished a lot. This was a good way to work with other people, which I don’t really get the chance to do.

How did you get on knowing the Hackathon was was only for a day?

I thought it was really well organised. The way the team at Fulham Good Neighbours did it, they had a fully prepared structure for the day, which meant that we were able to stay on schedule and cover all bases. On the day we split up into three small groups, which meant we worked on different things. In the end we got to put all our research together into one report. Looking at what we did in our separate groups and how everything came together, it was really lovely to see the impact of our hard work.

Would you recommend other people to take part in a Hackathon?

Yes I would! When I looked at my reading week and saw how much work I had to do, I was close to backing out, but I decided not to. 

When you actually make the time to take part in something like a Hackathon, it’s so rewarding. The fact you can do so much in one day is really amazing.

How does it feel knowing you spent a day doing this and made an impact on people in the community?

To be honest, I initially signed up for this Hackathon because I thought it would be good experience and looks nice on a CV – I genuinely didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I did! I’m so happy I got this experience and made a positive contribution.

If Rhea's story has got you feeling inspired to volunteer, make sure to have a browse through our directory. If you're short on time but still want to volunteer - check out our One-Off Volunteering programme for lots of time-light opportunities! 

Find out more about our Social Hackathons and let us know if you'd like to be contacted ahead of the next events!