Turning Passion into Action

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Social entrepreneurship scheme: turning passion into action

London 2012 Gold Medallist joins Oxford Brookes scheme supporting community projects

An initiative to support individuals in making a make real difference for society will hold a Dragon’s Den-style event today.

Pitches will be made at the event for 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 judging panel at the event will include London 2012 Gold medallist Katherine Grainger CBE, alongside prominent social entrepreneurs and business people with connections to Oxford Brookes. Members of the project team have already shortlisted a strong selection of candidates.

The Oxford Brookes Social Entrepreneurs Awards (OBSEA) have already awarded 20 smaller Try It Awards of up to £500 to encourage those with a passion in improving communities.

Interest for the scheme, which is open to students, staff and recent graduates from the University, has been high and many of the Try It Award projects are already underway, with the remainder due to start imminently. A couple of examples of these include:

  • Success on the Decks which uses music as a vehicle for developing self-confidence and expression for disaffected young people in areas of deprivation in Oxfordshire.
  • Reconnecting Forces to use out of season, surplus capacity in hotels to run low cost retreats and decompression breaks for military personnel and their families after deployment in military hotspots.

Speaking about the Reconnecting Forces project, final-year student in International Hospitality Management Karen Hayes, said: “I hope the retreats will offer a relaxing respite for troops and their families returning from deployment and support families with the transition back into home life.”

On his success with the Decks project receiving a Try It Award, Dr Pete Dale who is a Lecturer in Popular Music, added: “In the past, I have provided opportunities for DJing and MCing in school classrooms in the North East of England. From this I have seen a transformation in the young people - now I want to see whether the same results can occur in Oxford and Oxfordshire.”

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.

Brookes is one of a number of 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, UnLtd and the Students’ Union to deliver this initiative.

OBSEA Programme and Marketing Co-ordinator Jeff Willmore has been delighted with the quality and number of applications received, saying: "Our applicants are passionate and determined people who are keen to explore the potential of social entrepreneurship.

“We have been impressed by the calibre of ideas presented and the breadth of interest this programme has evoked. 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."

More information on the scheme can be found on its dedicated webpages.