‘Passion to Action’
Below is a selection of the inspirational pitches presented as part of the Passion to Action programme, which went on to win awards to research, scope or develop their ideas. The panel hearing the pitches included established social entrepreneurs, business people and Oxford Brookes new Chancellor and Olympic rower Katherine Grainger CBE.
The Knowledge Project
"Setting up a project like this brings you into contact with so many wonderful and passionate individuals. I can’t begin to quantify how important this experience has been for my professional and personal experience, and the skills I’ve developed will continue to be used throughout my life.” Mona Sakr, The Knowledge Project
Mona is part of a team who have developed The Knowledge Project. This is a multi-level endeavour designed to provide affordable (and fun!) evening classes to local adults, whilst at the same time giving post-graduate students invaluable teaching experience. In addition, the profits go to support a charity giving tutoring to local children for whom English is a second language, so the benefits are spread even further into the community.
"I was stimulated, satisfied and intrigued by your presentations and went away hungry for more. I have already raved to a number of friends!” Margaret, attendee of Introduction to Psychology
Current courses on offer include Positive Psychology, Novel Writing, Feminism, and Shakespeare!
Alun, a Physiotherapy student, and a group of his peers want to set up a social enterprise to address the overwhelming need for physiotherapy, which the NHS is struggling to meet both in scale and cost. Long NHS waiting lists, and high costs of private treatment, mean that up to half of those with musculoskeletal conditions remain untreated.
Fluid Motion would provide affordable, local treatment based on individual assessments and tailored regimes, followed by group sessions, thus keeping costs down. The sessions would be held in local swimming pools and would be hydrotherapy based. The programme also aims to provide excellent experience for healthcare students.
The financial award is helping the group to complete a pilot programme to ensure that the model works, and that the programme could partner effectively with the NHS referral system.
E-Business students Natalia Koualchuk and Pierre Leroux pitched an idea to develop a straightforward interface to simplify and facilitate computer access for older people. They argued that there were many older people who wanted the benefits of the internet – such as online grocery shopping, email or keeping in touch via social networks – but found computers complicated, particularly given the ever-changing world of technology. These students aim to create software to deliver an easy set of tools with all the functionality of the web.
One sixth of the population, or 10 million people in the UK, are over 65 years old. The first steps for Natalia and Pierre will be to look at insights and consider the diverse needs of this population before the software can be developed.
Children’s Cooking School
A 'from field to fork' approach underpinned the idea from MA Food, Wine & Culture student Catherine Nicholson, which aimed at teaching cookery skills and a wider understanding of food, to disadvantaged school children. The aim is for the children to focus on cooking what they have grown and to understand where food comes from. Catherine has previously worked as a food science teacher and has strong partnerships and school links. Catherine will be using the funding to trial her idea and see how it could best be delivered.
Olivia Satori, an undergraduate in Hospitality and Tourism Management, talked passionately about the difficulties of disabled people in finding jobs. She reported that of 8 million disabled people in the UK, only 2 million were able to find paid employment. She argued that most of the issues could be solved by understanding what each individual is capable of and matching their skills to a job opening. Using her real life experience of the hotel sector as a focus, she aimed to set up a niche recruitment agency to act as mediator between the client and employer. Olivia's aim is to create a better representation of people with special needs in the hotel industry. Her funding will be spent on further research into the issues and solutions.