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During Reading Week of Term 1, our students were joined by four of the Volunteering Service's partner organisations to take part in our first Social Hackathon of the 2022-23 academic year. Over the 7th­–11th November, students were placed with one of our community partners for a day, to devise and implement solutions to problems that the organisations currently face. These organisations were:

Working in teams, UCL students were able to develop skills, make connections, and gain invaluable insight into work in the third sector.

Jingyi Ye, a 2nd year BSc Economics student and one of the 2022-23 Volunteering Officers, took part in the event with Wonder Foundation. She spoke about the great insight into the third sector that the Hackathon provides:

“By doing the Hackathon, I think you will gain more information about the initiatives behind the charity and about why they are doing this. You can get more information than if you are just looking through their website. You can have more of a direct connection to that charity, which I think is a really great chance.”

These Hackathons are also a fantastic opportunity for those who are looking to get involved in volunteering, but are unsure how to start or not able to commit to regular volunteering:

“I feel like it would be a really great start for new volunteers or people who have interest in volunteering, to start thinking about what they can do, what kind of help they can offer through volunteering.”

Jingyi Ye

You can find more details about each of the Social Hackathon events below:

Starfish Greathearts Foundation

Starfish is an international charity that cares for vulnerable and orphaned children affected by HIV and poverty in South Africa. They joined us on Tuesday 8th November to team up with UCL students with the aim to generate new ideas for campaigns and social media content, with the aim of using Starfish’s 21 Years Campaign as a way to reach new and old donors.

Students had the chance to develop skills in research, design, and international events marketing, and to receive feedback from fellow students and members of the Starfish team on the work that they had done. This was a fantastic opportunity for those interested in marketing and communication, and a great insight into work in the third sector.

If you would like to check out more about the work that Starfish does, you can check out more about them here!

Team Up

Team Up run a tutoring programme that trains volunteers to learn leadership and teaching skills though tutoring children from disadvantaged backgrounds on a weekly basis.

On Wednesday 9th November, Team Up joined our students online to review their current tutoring programs, and brainstorm ways to make these programs more inclusive and inspiring for young people, especially those from BAME communities. This was a fantastic opportunity for students to work alongside professionals within education and the third sector, and to develop skills in teaching, resource development, and research. Students had the support of qualified teachers with invaluable experience creating teaching resources for young people.

Yalin Chen, a 2nd year BSc Economics student and one of the 2022-23 Volunteering Officers, took part in the event, and spoke about the value of working on a project like this:

“It really made me reflect on my secondary school life, and that I perhaps wasn’t very aware of the diversity of role models that there are. I feel like we’re actually making a small change. Hopefully after the Social Hackathon this will be reflected in more learning resources and make a bigger difference to younger generations in the future.”

This was also the only one of our Hackathons that took place online, so students could get involved and make a change from the comfort of their own homes! Students were still able to work together, connect with each other, and take on valuable advice from the Team Up staff that they worked with throughout the day. There was even a remote networking session which took place at the end of the day, where students were joined by members of Team Up to talk about the education and charity sectors, which was an inspiring opportunity for all.

If you are interested in Team Up you can learn more about them here. If you are interested in joining them as a volunteer, check out their English or Maths Tutor role!

Voluntary Action Camden (VAC)

Voluntary Action Camden (VAC) is an independent charitable organisation that works with the Camden community to support, develop and promote voluntary and community activity.

VAC joined UCL students on Thursday 10th November to develop a brief for the evaluation of the Camden Community Action Research Programme.

Students had the opportunity to learn about developing cross sector projects which involve the collaboration of large public agencies with residents and community groups. They also had the chance to improve their skills in researching and designing evaluation approaches and developing projects. This was a fantastic experience for students interested in working with working in charity, community, and health sectors.

The day was a huge success and led to the output of a draft evaluation brief. This brief has now been finalised, and is up on Jobshop! If you are interested in applying, the deadline is 30th November.

Make sure to also check out this blog post about the VAC Hackathon, about why the evaluation brief was needed and what is being done with it. If you are interested in the work that VAC does, you can learn more about them and keep an eye out for future volunteering opportunities here!

Wonder Foundation

Wonder Foundation is an organisation that works to empower women and girls in their communities through access to quality education. They work with women-led local partners to empower woman and girls to exit poverty for good through informed life choices and personal development.

On Friday 11th November, Wonder Foundation joined UCL students to work on research for one of Wonder Foundation’s newest projects, which aims to address the problem of many school-age children from migrant backgrounds not being in school.

For the Hackathon, UCL students helped to map organisations across the England who are working with at-risk communities, to help Wonder Foundation to get a sense of the problem that they are addressing. Students were divided into groups, to each research key contacts in different communities across the UK.

Jingyi Ye shared her personal highlight of the experience:

“You really feel like you are making a change, even if it is little. We searched for information to help with the research they will do in the future about how these communities will help girls and women get access to education. So we really feel a sense of achievement that we gain from the Social Hackathon.”

The day was a great opportunity for UCL students to develop research, teamwork, and communication skills, and to gain an insight into the challenge of data poverty and the social issues that the Wonder Foundation engages with.

If you are interested in the work that Wonder Foundation does, why not check out their opportunities for a Communications Volunteer or Fundraise to help Ukrainian Refugees.