£23,000 Awarded to Community Schemes

Monday, 24 February 2014

OBSEA 2014 latest image Dragons Den

Inspirational social enterprise projects have secured a total of £23,000 in a Dragons’ Den pitch event as part of the Oxford Brookes University Social Entrepreneur Awards (OBSEA).

The initiative’s theme is From Passion to Action, and the aim is to support individuals in making a real social impact using a business model.


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Representatives from six projects presented bids totalling £33,000 to an independent panel of social entrepreneurs and business people as well as Olympic Gold medallist from London 2012, rower Katherine Grainger CBE. All the Dragons commented on the high quality of the projects, the passion of the applicants and the tough choices to be made.

The awards were in two categories: Do It Awards of up to £5,000 to develop initiatives, and larger Build It Awards of up to £15,000 for more established projects. The winners were:

  • Mona Sakr, The Knowledge Project - Built It Award of £9,000
  • Glenda Huish, Bramble Verbiage - Do It Award of £5,000
  • Jordon Maynard-Daley, Arts Excite – Do It Award of £5,000
  • Danny Newcombe and Will Roberts, Boing – Do It Award of £4,000

Commented OBSEA Programme Lead, Roberto Daniele, "Our annual Dragons’ Den event is the highlight of the OBSEA programme and once more we have been impressed by the calibre of ideas presented. Our applicants are passionate and determined people who are keen to explore the potential of social entrepreneurship – and brave enough to take that first step. Oxford Brookes has a key role to play in supporting these developing social entrepreneurs, who will hopefully go on to become future change-makers in Oxford, the UK, or potentially across the world."

The OBSEA programme has already given 14 smaller Try It Awards of up to £500 this year to encourage those with a passion in improving communities to test an idea. Interest for the scheme, which is open to students, staff and recent graduates from the university, has been high, with over 300 people signed up to the programme. Many of the Try It Award projects are already underway, with the remainder due to start imminently.

Added OBSEA Project Co-ordinator Jeff Willmore, “Our awards presentation honoured all our winners from this year and was a real celebration of achievement. We’re already looking forward to next year, when we hope to open up the OBSEA programme to the wider community.”

The project is part of a £2million higher education initiative funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England and delivered by UnLtd, the Foundation for Social Entrepreneurs.

Oxford Brookes is one of 56 higher education institutions selected from across England to lead this pioneering programme to develop social entrepreneurship projects. The university has a long tradition of its students engaging in community action schemes and has been working with Student Hubs to deliver this initiative.

More information about OBSEA can be found on its dedicated webpages and a Flickr gallery of photos from the Dragons' Den event is available to view. Details of the winning projects can be found below:

THE KNOWLEDGE PROJECT - Mona Sakr, Recent PhD Psychology and Education

Build It award - £9,000

Coming back for a second year, having won a Do It award last year, The Knowledge Project will step up its mission to provide affordable and accessible evening classes to the general public in Oxford. The classes will be run by trained postgraduate student volunteers from the two universities in Oxford. The class fees will go to the charity Jacari, which provides home tuition to local children who don’t speak English as their first language.

Commented Mona Sakr, “We are extremely excited to have the opportunity to take The Knowledge Project to the next level. With this award, we'll be able to significantly expand during the project's second year, offering a much larger range of enthralling evening and weekend courses to the Oxford community.”

BRAMBLE VERBIAGE - Glenda Huish, Music BA MD

Do It award - £5,000

Bramble Verbiage is about inclusion through music. It aims to develop and improve the model of the existing Wittstock Music Festival, which is free to attend, and One Gig Closer satellite events which support the main festival. The aim is to make the festival sustainable in the long term and create a ‘stamp of approval’ for venues and companies to comply with a new set of criteria to make live music events safer and accessible, and inclusive to all. People who will benefit from support include adults with learning disabilities, mental health problems and physical disabilities.

Wittstock Music Festival is an annual summer festival for the public held over one weekend for approximately 500 people and promoting around 40 mostly local acts of varying musical genres. Commented OBSEA winner, Glenda Huish “I’m very grateful. It’s enabling Wittstock and the projects around Wittstock to maybe fulfil their potential one day – it’s given them a start. It means more people will be able to share music.”

ARTS EXCITE - Jordon Maynard-Daley, Faculty of Arts (staff)

Do It award - £5,000

The Arts Excite is a platform for talented, disadvantaged young people to express themselves and bring about positive change in their communities. The young people respond to real world briefs set by community groups and local charities. The Arts Excite supports them with free, accredited workshops giving those young people not in employment, education or training the chance to earn a nationally recognised Arts Award qualification. The aim is to research the creation of a social enterprise model for The Arts Excite, looking at how workshops for private schools or company team building exercises could cover the costs of the free workshops for disadvantaged young people.

Commented Jordan, "It feels exhilarating to have won this award, it will dramatically help my social enterprise get off the ground. With this grant I feel that there is wind beneath the project’s wings and from now on it’s only going to fly and reach new heights. Thank you to everyone who made it possible for The Arts Excite to win this award it is in a stronger position to make positive change happen for so many people."

BOING - Daniel Newcombe and Will Roberts – Lecturers in Sport, Coaching and Physical Education

Do It award - £4,000

boing aims to challenge the current landscape of physical education in primary schools in Oxford, by using a constructivist approach. This approach allows pupils to construct their own knowledge of physical literacy and change the relationship pupils have with physical activity, with a view to increasing lifelong participation. The advantages include not only physical and mental health, but also a huge financial benefit to society.

Commented Will Roberts, “We were delighted to be awarded this money. It means that we can impact on young people’s lives through physical literacy but importantly we can also give opportunities to our students to work in a real world environment to gain some of those graduate attributes that are so important to us.”

Daniel Newcombe added, “We’re already piloting, we’re already learning and researching and the main project will begin in September.”