Social change isn't a sideline hobby – it's a serious endeavour that calls for serious skills. The good news is that higher education programmes in public policy, social entrepreneurship and innovation are burgeoning – from Oxford University's new Blavatnik School of Government to the the RCA's new Global Innovation Design programme. If you want to start earning instead, with decent training and development, The Golden List has something for you too. Check out the social grad schemes. Internship programmes can be variable in quality so look for those that offer serious career development support. Service programmes offer heavyweight volunteering: long-term, often full-time and with additional development support.
A joint Master’s degree with Imperial College, this course has spawned entrepreneurs who have designed ground-breaking products and services for elderly people and people living with autism.
The LSE has the longest-established Department of Social Policy in the country with a suite of postgraduate programmes including specialisms in criminal justice, health and international development.
Oxford University’s Blavatnik School of Government has only been offering its Master in Public Policy for two years. It’s high-achieving cohort and the scope of its modules are global.
Ahem, yes, that’s us. Excuse the self-promotion. For grads who are serious about building smart solutions to social problems rather than settling for being a cog in the system, our judges reckoned that Year Here was a winner.
In just 10 years, the Teach First scheme has grown to be the UK’s largest graduate employer, placing over 1000 top graduates in the most challenging schools in the country for a 2-year programme.
Having recently undergone a redesign, the UK Government’s graduate scheme now involves a secondment to a business or charity and a 6-month placement outside London.
New kid on the block Frontline replicates the Teach First model but instead of tough schools it’s local authority social work departments that grads are placed in. Received extraordinary levels of interest in its first programme in 2014.
Charityworks is a paid graduate scheme for the non-profit sector. The programme places graduates into charities and housing associations across the country as part of a 12 month development programme which includes mentoring, training, and research.
Worthwhile is the graduate scheme developed by Student Hubs, the leading student volunteering group. Worthwhile combines placements in small charities with monthly training and networking events.
The Innovation Unit’s Traineeship Programme offers paid entry level positions in social innovation roles working on health and education projects.
Interning at Nesta, the UK’s innovation foundation, comes with the bonus of brilliant access to some of the country’s leading social innovators through their impressive events programme.
Student Hubs is a student-led charity that aims to promote social action among students and recent graduates. Their internship scheme, run regionally by each individual university hub, places students in nonprofits for short placements.
In many ways, the original social impact internship scheme, Toynbee Hall was at the forefront of the settlement movement. Titans of 20th Century reform including William Beveridge and Clement Atlee spent time there.
Located just off The Strand in central London, the RSA offers 3-6 month paid internships. They also have an excellent set of tips for applying on their site.
Joining the City Year ‘corps’ means committing to a year of full time volunteering in schools – with a voluntary stipend and regular training to support your leadership development.
A unique experience of living with and supporting some of London’s street homeless.
A part-time leadership programme set up by The Young Foundation that aims to accelerate people from diverse and under-represented backgrounds into positions of power.
Volunteering Matters, formerly known as CSV, have been running a Full Time Volunteering scheme for young people aged 18 – 35 for over 50 years. It is unique experience – living away from home for 6 to 12 months and being totally immersed in the lives of people who need help and support throughout the UK.
Camphill offers long-term volunteering in one of 23 residential centres providing holidays and specialist support to people with learning disabilities, mental health problems and other special needs.
In many ways, the time has never been riper to launch your own social venture. You can get a project started with a bit of cash from one of the growing number of micro-grant funders– although they usually prohibit you from using the money to pay yourself a salary. Incubators and accelerators offer business mentoring, access to investors and, sometimes, a bit of cash to ambitious startups. Co-working space is booming. The Golden List has gathered free, or reduced fee, desk space options for you to check out. Finally, competitions and challenges offer cash prizes and a huge boost to your profile.
The world’s largest funding platform for creative projects. Nuff said.
O2’s ambitious programme to support young entrepreneurs offers £300 for people with social impact project ideas. £2,500 is available for those who are ready to ‘think bigger’.
The Funding Network’s spin-off gathers groups of young people to crowdfund social impact projects.
10 trustees putting £100 in a pot means each month one awesome idea, of the five or so that pitch, gets a grand to get going.
An entrepreneurial and progression corporate foundation that supports new ventures working with young people.
With roots in Bethnal Green but now operating from Somerset House, BGV is a social tech accelerator. This is the place to come if you’ve got a tech-enabled idea for a social business.
Launched by Jan Matern while at Oxford University and run in partnership with Said Business School and Eton College, Emerge Education is the country’s premier edtech incubator, with an impressive portfolio.
Wayra is Telefonica’s startup accelerator and UnLtd is the UK’s foundation for social entrepreneurs. Wayra UnLtd is Cabinet Office-funded to support social tech ventures.
The first on our list that isn’t uniquely focussed on tech, Solve is run by the team behind the Impact Hub Westminster. It has themed accelerator programmes in areas such as public services and finance innovation.
Teach First’s second entry on the Golden List is for their innovation unit, which supports social ventures (some run by Teach First alumni, some not) that seek to tackle educational disadvantage.
The original social enterprise co-working space has branches in King’s Cross, Angel, Brixton and Westminster.
Dubbed the Factory-on-Thames, makerversity is a home for makers movement in Somerset House – offering coworking and education opportunities.
Google’s tech hub is just a stone’s throw from the silicon roundabout in Shoreditch, East London offering free, if a little crowded, co-working space to tech startups.
London’s first pay-per-minute cafe where everything is free, apart from the time you spend there.
Focussing on the power of technology to change the world, Google Impact Awards gave four winning ideas £500,000 to build their products.
Taking IDEO’s design methods and throwing them open to the general public to use to come up with solutions to global challenges.
A global MBA student business plan competition for social ventures. In 2014, GSVC received 600 entries from nearly 40 countries.
Formally the Dell Social Innovation Challenge, Verb U runs social innovation competitions for students and recent graduates.
From youth unemployment to the isolation of older people and aggression in hospitals, the Design Council tackles an extraordinary diversity of problems through their Design Challenges.
Approaches to social change are always in flux – and it's often at the edges that you find the most forward-thinking, inquisitive and ambitious people and initiatives. The Golden List has done the searching for you. The galvanising power of social media and the interest in community organising has given activism a recent resurgence. Likewise, design for social change is booming as designers clamour to use their skills for good – and non-designers have greater access to human-centred design tools. Social enterprise, while nearly mainstream, is still a huge growth industry. Read more about breaking into social enterprise.
The world’s leading design and innovation firm and the originators of human-centred design, IDEO are the heavyweights.
Scottish outfit Snook proclaim ‘we are the how’, helping government redesign public services and launching their own ventures like MyPolice and The Matter.
The Design Council is a charity that exists to champion great design that improves lives and makes things better.
00 is an architectural practice that dabbles in all sorts – from open-source housing (wikihouse) to civic incubation (Impact Hub Westminster).
Devoted to design for public service reform, Participle has found success with Circles, social networks for older people, and Backr, a service for unemployed people.
Bite the Ballot aims to drive the biggest turnout of informed, educated and engaged young voters at the 2015 general election.
Named after the critical angle at which an avalanche is triggered, 38 degrees campaigns to achieve fairness, defend rights, promote peace, preserve the planet and deepen democracy in the UK.
Possibly the most powerful online network of activists in the world, Avaaz was founded by British-Canadian Ricken Patel in 2007.
Initially established to protest against tax avoidance in 2010, UK Uncut campaigns against the government’s austerity policy.
Free:Formers operates a one-for-one model in digital education. For every business person they train in cutting-edge digital skills, they train an unemployed young person for free.
The rockstars of local government may sound like a dubious honour but FutureGov have got public service redesign nailed with their mix of design, tech and policy expertise.
The Nominet Trust are one of the primary sponsors of social tech innovation in Britain.
Code Club is a nationwide network of volunteer-led after school coding clubs for children aged 9-11
If you're locked into an unsatisfying job and can't find a way out, do not fret. The Golden List has lots of ideas for how you can get stuck without quitting the day job. You'll remind yourself that you have something to offer and meet the people who might go on to become your collaborators, advocates or employers. They might have silly names 'hacks' and 'jams' are actually brilliant opportunities to be productive for a social cause. There are loads of relevant networking opportunities and they needn't be awkward chats over stale sandwiches and warm wine.
Combine a bit of exercise with doing some good in your local community. This is running with a mission.
An army of doctors and junior medical students training up gang members in the skills they need to save lives in the case of a stabbing or shooting.
A pirate ship in the heart of Dalston that’s home to a thriving literacy project.
Tackling food waste and bringing communities together, FoodCycle. Volunteers use surplus food to cook meals for people at risk of food poverty.
YouthNet are the online lifeline for young people, powered by a team of volunteers who work on- and offline to keep the service going.
The UK’s premier student social entrepreneurship conference, Emerge attracts big names to Said Business School in Oxford every autumn.
Escape the City is a growing network of frustrated corporate employees who are planning their escape. Through their ‘Escape School’, they run talks and classes.
Rewired State pioneered hacks in public service. They now run over ten per year.
Running in parallel to The Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship in Oxford, OxfordJam is a three-day fringe event that creates a space for the nurturing of social economy and social finance projects the world over.
Where smart folk collaborate and experiment to solve stuff that matters, Good for Nothing run events with a motley crew of creatives, strategists and do-ers to help charities and social enterprises get bigger and better.
The UK body for social enterprise, the driving force behind the Buy Social campaign and the Social Economy Alliance.
Fast Company’s spinoff, FastCoExist is a fantastic platform to stay abreast of the latest innovations in health, sustainability and wellbeing.
Stanford University’s Social Innovation Review covers nonprofit strategy, leadership, entrepreneurship and impact investing, among many other topics.
With support from Richard Brandon and Dame Martha Lane-Fox, Founders Forum for Good brings together digital entrepreneurs who are aiming for social impact.
The new name for Social Enterprise magazine and socialenterpriselive.com, Pioneers Post delivers the news and sets the agenda for the new wave of responsible business leaders and social entrepreneurs.
A global network of young aspiring social leaders, this is probably the most high-energy of UK’s social impact communities. Make Sense regularly run ‘hold ups’ (fast-paced creative sessions) for social entrepreneurs.
A global network of 1,500 emerging leaders, expert in their respective fields, all aged under 30.
Finance Matters is a cross-corporate community of finance professionals in London with a strong interest in helping the financial industry drive social change.
The RSA’s Social Entrepreneurs Network holds regular monthly breakfasts (the last Friday of each month) at the RSA House in London. Other networks exist across the country.
Young Philanthropy runs a syndicate of young professionals investing their time, money and skills in niche charity projects, with matched funding and support from senior philanthropists.
Voted by the public, these are the under 30s who are leading serious social change in Britain.
Tom Chigbo is a community organiser charged with setting up Leeds Citizens. In 2009, he became the first black president of Cambridge University Students Union and was featured in the Power List of Britain’s 100 most influential black people.
Lauren co-founded Scottish service design agency, Snook, after experience with FutureGov and Think Public. She was recently named one of Britain’s 50 New Radicals by The Observer and one of Management Today’s Top 35 women under 35.
Josh is the Chief Executive of Frontline, a new social work graduate scheme modelled on Teach First, backed by Lord Andrew Adonis and recently included in the Times’s list of the top 100 graduate employers.
Adam co-founded Student Hubs, the UK’s leading student volunteering charity, in 2007 during a sabbatical from his undergraduate degree at Oxford University.
Adam Pike founded BeyondMe, a growing movement where professionals, businesses and charities join together to make a meaningful impact on the world beyond them, in 2011.
Voted by the public, these are the social leaders that most shape our views on society. (Public Vote)
Laura Bates is the founder of the Everyday Sexism Project, a collection of over 10,000 women’s daily experiences of gender inequality.
Shami Chakrabarti is the director of Liberty, the civil liberties advocacy organisation, labelled ‘the most dangerous woman in Britain’ by the Sun and ‘probably the most effective public affairs lobbyist of the past 20 years” by the Times.
Tom Rippin is the Chief Executive of On Purpose, a social enterprise leadership programme for early-to-mid career professionals. Tom’s background is in academia and consulting.
Dom Campbell is the founder of FutureGov. He is a digital government specialist and social innovator with a background in government policy, communications and technology-led change. He also tweets like there’s no tomorrow.
Rob leads the award-winning Bromley-By-Bow Centre in East London. Rob, and the centre, have pioneered co-location of health, housing, employability, legal and wellbeing services in a beautiful, art-filled space in one of the most deprived parts of the country.