Social Innovation Programme Launch Event

Earlier this week we met up with our SIP challenge team for the first time. The SIP (Social Innovation Programme) is a scheme run by Cambridge Hub. Teams of university students are set challenges by community partners from local charities, social enterprises and other worthy causes, and have six weeks to produce a piece of work for that organisation. During that time the team receives regular coaching sessions to give them the skills to help them complete the task and also further their personal development. It’s a great initiative.

The challenge set by Cambridge Food Hub was to compare the environmental impact of food delivered to Cambridge University and college kitchens via the Food Hub distribution system, to similar food delivered through the existing supply chain. In order to demonstrate the need for the Cambridge Food Hub it will be important to show that research has been done into impact metrics, so the final report produced by our team will be invaluable for demonstrating the environmental impact of the Food Hub to potential funders and partners.

The SIP challenge launch event took place at Jesus college on the 29th of January. The evening began with a presentation by Michael of Cambridge Hub, followed by a brief pitch from each of the eight organisations who were setting a challenge. There were some really good organisations participating in the programme. A couple that particularly stood out to me included a local organisation called Sourcing Justice, which aims to address issues of modern slavery (something that resonated with me as I had only recently participated in some research being done on behalf of the Home Office on this very topic), and Car Free Cambridge, who are hoping to introduce a car-free day in Cambridge city centre by 2020.

After the pitches there was a training session, and then the challenge partners were introduced to their teams. Our SIP team consists of six university students; Lynn, Joey, Shilin, Robin and Sasha, with Nina as team leader. Each member of the team attends a different college and studies different subjects, so we have an excellent range of talents.

Of the forthcoming six weeks the team will work alongside the University’s Energy and Environment department and several college catering managers to try and calculate just how much beneficial environmental impact could be achieved if the University were to source some of its food directly from local farms through the Food Hub system. Visit our blog again in mid-march when we will report on the end of the SIP challenge…

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