The Golden List

The ultimate directory for young professionals who are ambitious about social change.

Learn to Lead

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.

  • MA/MSc Innovation Design Engineering

    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.

  • MSc Social Policy

    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.

  • Master of Public Policy

    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.

  • Campaign Bootcamp

    Campaign Bootcamp is a year long part-time course for budding campaigners that was set up by Johnny Chatterton (ex-38 Degrees, and Casper Ter Kuile (ex-Avaaz, UK Youth Climate Coalition) to address the gap in training and development for young campaigners.

  • Year Here

    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.

  • Teach First

    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.

  • Civil Service Fast Stream

    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.

  • Frontline

    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.

  • Charity Works

    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

    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.

  • Innovation Unit

    The Innovation Unit’s Traineeship Programme offers paid entry level positions in social innovation roles working on health and education projects.

  • Nesta

    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.

  • Social Impact Internships

    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.

  • Toynbee Hall

    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.

  • RSA

    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.

  • City Year

    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.

  • The Simon Community

    A  unique experience of living with and supporting some of London’s street homeless.

  • UpRising

    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 Full Time Volunteering

    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

    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.

Do It Yourself

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.

  • Kickstarter

    The world’s largest funding platform for creative projects. Nuff said.

  • O2 Think Big

    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 Youth Funding Network

    The Funding Network’s spin-off gathers groups of young people to crowdfund social impact projects.

  • The Awesome Foundation

    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.

  • Forward Foundation

    An entrepreneurial and progression corporate foundation that supports new ventures working with young people.

  • Bethnal Green Ventures

    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.

  • Emerge Education

    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 UnLtd

    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.

  • Solve

    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 Innovation Unit

    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 Hub

    The original social enterprise co-working space has branches in King’s Cross, Angel, Brixton and Westminster.

  • Makerversity

    Dubbed the Factory-on-Thames, makerversity is a home for makers movement in Somerset House – offering coworking and education opportunities.

  • Somewhere to

    Spaces for young people, aged 16-25, to make ideas happen. For free. A brilliant initiative from the equally brilliant youth marketing agency, Livity.

  • Google Campus

    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.

  • Ziferblat London

    London’s first pay-per-minute cafe where everything is free, apart from the time you spend there.

  • Google Impact Challenge

    Focussing on the power of technology to change the world, Google Impact Awards gave four winning ideas £500,000 to build their products.

  • Open IDEO

    Taking IDEO’s design methods and throwing them open to the general public to use to come up with solutions to global challenges.

  • Global Social Innovation Competition

    A global MBA student business plan competition for social ventures. In 2014, GSVC received 600 entries from nearly 40 countries.

  • Verb U

    Formally the Dell Social Innovation Challenge, Verb U runs social innovation competitions for students and recent graduates.

  • Design Council Challenges

    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.

The New Frontier

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.

  • Ideo

    The world’s leading design and innovation firm and the originators of human-centred design, IDEO are the heavyweights.

  • Snook

    Scottish outfit Snook proclaim ‘we are the how’, helping government redesign public services and launching their own ventures like MyPolice and The Matter.

  • Design Council

    The Design Council is a charity that exists to champion great design that improves lives and makes things better.

  • 00:/

    00 is an architectural practice that dabbles in all sorts – from open-source housing (wikihouse) to civic incubation (Impact Hub Westminster).

  • Participle

    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

    Bite the Ballot aims to drive the biggest turnout of informed, educated and engaged young voters at the 2015 general election.

  • Citizens UK

    The UK’s leading community organising group, Citizens UK are behind the extraordinary Living Wage Campaign.

  • 38 Degrees

    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.

  • Avaaz

    Possibly the most powerful online network of activists in the world, Avaaz was founded by British-Canadian Ricken Patel in 2007.

  • UK Uncut

    Initially established to protest against tax avoidance in 2010, UK Uncut campaigns against the government’s austerity policy.

  • Dot Dot Dot

    Filling empty properties with volunteers, who pay as little as £50 a month to become property guardians. This genius idea has grown solidly since its launch 3 years ago.

  • Casserole Club

    FutureGov’s Casserole Club is a reimagination of meals-on-wheels. Casserole helps people share extra portions of home cooked food with others in their area who are not always able to cook for themselves

  • Franklin Scholars

    When one teaches, two learn. The Franklin Scholars are bright Year 10 students in disadvantaged schools who mentor Year 7s who are struggling with the transition from primary to secondary school.

  • NANA

    A comfort food café in Clapton, Nana aims to give meaningful work to older ladies (the Nanas) and reduce social isolation in the process.

  • Volunteer It Yourself

    VIY combines volunteering and DIY by challenging young people aged 14-24 to learn trade and building skills, on the job, by committing to fix local youth club and community centre buildings in need of essential repairs.

  • Freeformers

    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.

  • FutureGov

    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.

  • Nominet Trust

    The Nominet Trust are one of the primary sponsors of social tech innovation in Britain.

  • Government Digital Service

    GDS is well deservedly known as the cool kid of government, having managed to build a government website that people actually like using (

  • Code Club

    Code Club is a nationwide network of volunteer-led after school coding clubs for children aged 9-11

Get Stuck In

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.

  • Good Gym

    Combine a bit of exercise with doing some good in your local community. This is running with a mission.

  • StreetDoctors

    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.

  • Hackney Pirates

    A pirate ship in the heart of Dalston that’s home to a thriving literacy project.

    No, really.

  • Food Cycle

    Tackling food waste and bringing communities together, FoodCycle. Volunteers use surplus food to cook meals for people at risk of food poverty.

  • YouthNet

    YouthNet are the online lifeline for young people, powered by a team of volunteers who work on- and offline to keep the service going.

  • Emerge Conference

    The UK’s premier student social entrepreneurship conference, Emerge attracts big names to Said Business School in Oxford every autumn.

  • Escape the City

    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

    Rewired State pioneered hacks in public service. They now run over ten per year.

  • Oxford Jam

    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.

  • Good For Nothing

    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.

  • Social Enterprise UK

    The UK body for social enterprise, the driving force behind the Buy Social campaign and the Social Economy Alliance.

  • FastCo Exist

    Fast Company’s spinoff, FastCoExist is a fantastic platform to stay abreast of the latest innovations in health, sustainability and wellbeing.

  • Stanford Social Innovation Review

    Stanford University’s Social Innovation Review covers nonprofit strategy, leadership, entrepreneurship and impact investing, among many other topics.

  • Founders Forum for Good

    With support from Richard Brandon and Dame Martha Lane-Fox, Founders Forum for Good brings together digital entrepreneurs who are aiming for social impact.

  • Pioneers Post

    The new name for Social Enterprise magazine and, Pioneers Post delivers the news and sets the agenda for the new wave of responsible business leaders and social entrepreneurs.

  • Make Sense

    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.

  • Sandbox

    A global network of 1,500 emerging leaders, expert in their respective fields, all aged under 30.

  • Finance Matters

    Finance Matters is a cross-corporate community of finance professionals in London with a strong interest in helping the financial industry drive social change.

  • RSA Social Entrepreneurs' Network

    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

    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.

Rising Stars

Voted by the public, these are the under 30s who are leading serious social change in Britain.

  • Tom Chigbo

    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 Currie

    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 Macalister

    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 O Boyle

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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 Trimble

    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.

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