At the UCL East campus, buzzing with creativity and teamwork, our students gathered for our Social Hackathon Mega Day

Social hackathons bring together students and community organisations to create solutions for real-world challenges faced by the organisations. On 17th May, for the first time ever, four hackathons took place on the same day for even more innovation and connection!

This time, four local grassroots organisations based in East London presented their challenges to students. They were: 

The New Black Film Collective 

The New Black Film Collective aims to create a vibrant Black ecosystem in the UK film and TV sector by championing Black-led film production and distribution and runs a range of activities and events each year to showcase Black talent.  

As The New Black Film Collective looks to expand their work, they tasked students with putting together a presentation that captures their vision and communicates the value of their work, which can be shared with potential funders and partners to secure support.

The Power Project

The Power Project creates spaces for people who live with the effects of violence on their lives to practise martial arts. As a new organisation, they are looking to scale up their work so that they can reach everyone who needs it.

Volunteers used their research, and marketing skills to map partners and communities who would benefit from The Power Project’s work and devise an outreach and engagement strategy to foster a network of trauma-informed martial arts practitioners.  

Succeed 2 the Max 

Working with young people from under-represented backgrounds, Succeed 2 the Max advocates for young people to define success on their own terms and become CEOs of their own career journeys.  

To help the organisation reach more young people, volunteers worked with the Succeed 2 the Max to develop a PR and outreach strategy to reach a wider group of stakeholders and refine the organisation’s storytelling and branding to highlight the impact of their work.  

Tower Hamlets Cycling Club  

Tower Hamlets Cycling Club is a community club working with women and children who want to learn to cycle and explore their local areas. Led by a passionate founder, the club is popular and well-regarded in their community.  

The organisation tasked volunteers with creating a clearer structure for the organisation and improve its record-keeping practices. Working with the organisation’s existing records, students devised frameworks that were organised and systematic, while being simple to implement.  

An afternoon of reflection and connection 

We wrapped up the hackathons with a reflection session where groups presented their outputs and reflections from the day, before we gathered for a party to unwind, celebrate the achievements from the day, and build on our new connections!

Darcy Lan, a MA Primary Education student and incoming Postgraduate Sabbatical Officer, said:  

“I absolutely loved participating in these social hackathons. They were incredibly rewarding and offered a fantastic learning opportunity, allowing me to develop skills in teamwork, research, writing, and presenting. Moreover, I gained a deeper understanding of how community organisations and charities operate. Working with a community organisation involves connecting with the founder's story, embracing their vision, understanding their current challenges, and applying my experience from past hackathons, work, and academic knowledge to support and build connections with them.” 

Isabel Thwin, a BASc Arts and Sciences student, told us: 

"This was my first time attending a hackathon, and I was surprised at how well-organised everything was! All the other participants were really friendly, and it was great getting to know everyone. I felt that our team worked really efficiently; there wasn’t any hesitation in delegating tasks, and we all jumped straight in. Of course, working on the hackathon itself was rewarding since it was for a meaningful organisation, but I was pleasantly surprised by how receptive Linda, the founder of Succeed 2 the Max, was to all our questions and suggestions! It was an encouragement to know that our contributions were valued."

Maya D’Amour, Founder of The Power Project shared: 

“Our minds are expanded and hearts are full after a day of hacking with a crew of inspired, creative, clever, thoughtful, and collaborative students who brought their ingenuity and research acumen to [our] mission. The brilliant students generated strategies for outreach and engaging future clients, ideas for movement growth in the UK martial arts scene, and outlined an innovative and pragmatic approaches to track the impact of our work.

My most vivid memory was seeing an exuberant high five across the room - when the team cracked the case of impact tracking with a control group!” 

Keep an eye out for future hackathons if you're eager to develop your skills and make a meaningful social impact in your local community! 

We invited Jack, a live sketch artist, to captured our reflections and thoughts during the presentation.