Cambridge Social Innovation Prize
Trinity Hall and the Cambridge Centre for Social Innovation have partnered to celebrate and support extraordinary social innovators.
This prize, awarded for the first time in 2019, rewards achievement and ambition in social innovation. It celebrates social impact through business across the UK, from Land’s End to John O’Groats. We are looking for extraordinary business leaders whose work creates social change, whether that’s in a local community or on a national level.
We are grateful to Graham Ross Russell, an alumnus and Honorary Fellow of Trinity Hall, and his family for the generous donation which allows us to offer this new prize.
The 2022 winners
Anne Bailey, Form the Future CIC
Anne Bailey co-founded careers and employment company Form the Future CIC in 2015 after, as a parent, she experienced the disconnect between the dynamic Cambridge economy and the careers support children received in education.
The company’s mission is to connect young people to a world of career possibilities, inspire them to dream big, and empower them to achieve their full potential. They try to dismantle barriers to social mobility by empowering students with skills and aspirations and by working in partnership with employers in growth sectors, helping them to build a “talent pipeline”.
Since forming the company, CEO Anne and her team have partnered with hundreds of companies and worked with over 100 schools, local authorities and other partners. By connecting schools with local employers, students learn about and prepare for their future careers while employers get support to recruit and build their workforce.
Katie Buckingham, Altruist Enterprises
Katie Buckingham founded Altruist Enterprises in 2013 following her own personal experience of mental ill-health. Since then, she has grown Altruist into a specialist provider of in-person and online resilience and mental health training to organisations and schools nationally.
Katie aims to create a culture where mental health is understood and treated in the same way as physical health. The company provides managers, colleagues, teachers and pupils with the skills to support themselves and each other through the many challenges of work and home.
Katie’s expert team have over 200 years of combined experience working in mental health and assisting organisations with bespoke well-being programmes. Since forming, they have trained over 10,000 individuals in resilience and mental health skills. The organisation reinvests a proportion of profits and resources to provide subsidised or free mental health workshops to young people and parents.
Tamara Macfarlane, Moon Lane
Tamara Macfarlane is a children’s author and the founder and co-owner of Moon Lane, a specialist children’s bookseller established in 2003 to raise equality of access and representation in children’s books and in the publishing industry.
Tamara and her team work to address the lack of diversity the UK publishing industry by bridging the gap between the UK’s diverse population and UK publishing, to ensure that every child sees themselves represented in their children’s book ranges. Their wide-ranging initiatives include celebrating the work of authors and illustrators from under-represented groups, ensuring a route to market for more diverse titles, working with schools in communities to drive the conversation about inclusion in children’s books, and creating opportunities for young people from a more diverse range of backgrounds to access careers in bookselling and publishing.
Alice Williams, Luminary Bakery
Alice Williams founded Luminary Bakery, a social enterprise providing training, employment and a community of support to some of the most disadvantaged women in London, after her experience of volunteering in the Whitechapel Red-Light area.
CEO Alice and her team use baking as a tool to support women who have experienced gender-based violence and multiple disadvantages. Offering vocational training, holistic support and paid job opportunities, Luminary empowers women to fulfil their potential by building careers and leaving disadvantage behind.
The company currently has two café locations and an online store selling celebration cakes and letterbox treats. With clients including Ben & Jerry’s, ASOS, Microsoft, and Disney, Luminary won the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in 2020. Since starting in 2014, they have provided opportunities for 155 women and seen them go on to achieve remarkable things.
About the prize
Up to four winners will receive £10,000 each to develop the skills, resources and networks they need to scale the impact of their work, develop a new project, or pursue new possibilities. An expert business advisor will support the winners for six months to develop their own leadership capacity, make connections into Cambridge networks, and think through strategic challenges. You will also join a community of outstanding social innovators: a platform for collaboration and new ideas, an opportunity to connect with experts and deepen your social impact.
The winners will be people with a proven track record (five to 10 years) of social impact through business, as an entrepreneur or an intrapreneur, and who are bubbling over with ambitious plans for the future. For example:
- Founder or senior leader in a social enterprise.
- Leader of a corporate social innovation project.
- Leader of a public sector spin-out or trading subsidiary of a charity.
This award celebrates social impact through business across the UK. Eligible candidates should meet the following criteria:
- UK-based: This prize is intended to support social innovators whose primary social impact is in the UK. They should be based in the UK or have a strong connection to the UK. You do not have to be a UK citizen.
- Dedicated to social impact: The winners must show a commitment to social impact and creating positive social change, whatever that means in the context of their work.
- Businesses (or business-like): This prize is intended for people making social impact through business and entrepreneurship. That said, the line between charity, corporate and the public sector is increasingly blurry! Leaders of charities, non-profits and public sector organisations are very welcome to apply, if their work is driven by self-generated revenue. Organisations or projects which are primarily philanthropic or grant-funded, while important and impactful, are outside the scope of this prize.
How to apply
Applications for the 2023 prize are open from December 2022 to April 2023.
Visit the Cambridge Centre for Social Innovation website for more information and details on the application process.
The 2021 winners
Kim Griffin, GriffinOT
Making occupational therapy (OT) accessible and affordable by training teachers and parents in OT tools and strategies to support children with sensory issues, motor skill or developmental delays, autism, dyspraxia and ADHD. While waiting lists for children’s occupational therapy are surging, Kim’s (main image) online resources have reached more than 250,000 people, including daily exercises to help parents support their children’s development at home through lockdown.
Sashy Nathan, Commons Legal
A specialist criminal defence law firm with social justice at the heart. Their team of lawyers ensure representation is provided at police stations, in courts and at appeals. Founded uniquely as a cooperative and a Community Interest Company, all profits are ploughed back into the firm, giving their clients the opportunity to receive legal advice and representation no matter how their case is funded.
Lisa Stepanovic, Social Ark
Born and raised a working-class East Londoner, Lisa is driven to address the inequalities on her doorstep. Her business training and expert mentoring has supported hundreds of marginalised young people from under-resourced East London communities. This is an entrepreneurial programme truly rooted in ‘place’ and locally-led, creating a springboard of positive action that has resulted in sustainable change.
The 2020 winners
Founder of GoodGym, London
GoodGym is a fitness community that combines exercise with volunteering for community projects and supporting isolated older people. Their mission is to make it as easy as possible for people to use their exercise to benefit their community, and by doing so increase health and wellbeing and reduce isolation and loneliness.
GoodGym’s work is unique in the world, and has been shown to have significant impact on two of the most pressing issues of our time: care of our ageing population and physical inactivity. Larger than any other running club in the UK, GoodGym is funded by runner subscriptions, brand partnerships and local authority contracts.
Jennifer Neff and Leeann Monk Ozgul
Co-Founders of Elemental Software, Derry
Elemental is a social prescribing platform already being used by 310 hubs across the UK and Ireland. It allows healthcare professionals to refer patients to local, non-clinical services which meet their wellbeing needs. Gardening, walking groups and debt advice are examples of community services and resources that people are connected to, which enhance their health and welfare.
Elemental Software are also committed to scaling and measuring the uptake and impact of the social prescribing model of care.
Acting Chairperson of Homebaked, Liverpool
Homebaked is regenerating the high street ‘brick by brick and loaf by loaf’, using money that is spent in the neighbourhood to benefit the community. They run a community land trust and co-operative bakery co-owned and co-produced by people who live and work in the Everton and Anfield area of Liverpool.
Inspired by the belief that ‘we all deserve to live well’, Homebaked Bakery is more than just a local bakery. Creating good jobs, great food and welcoming spaces in one of the many left-behind areas of the UK, it is a model for community-led regeneration enterprise from which other left-behind cities could learn.
Founder and Chief Executive of Cracked It, London
Cracked It is a smartphone repair service, staffed by young ex-offenders to support them away from crime and towards employment. They reduce the friction of smartphone repair by bringing their services directly to the consumer with regular pop-up repair clinics in 25 large workplaces across London.
Josh and the team have made a proven impact: 64% of trainees on their transitional employment programme gain employment within a year, and 70% don’t re-offend in the same period.
The 2019 winners
CEO of Homes for Good, Glasgow
Homes for Good is Scotland’s first social enterprise letting agency. They also own two property investment portfolios of 240 homes specifically for people who have limited housing choice.
But the way Susan talks about the business, the driving motivation is to give people dignity in housing: for tenants to love your home and for your home to love you. People who live on benefits or so-called ‘high-risk’ tenants often don’t get that opportunity.
To scale her impact, Susan wants to lead by example – her goals in the next year include meeting with estate agents and social organisations across the UK to help them adopt a similar model.
The Regather co-operative, Sheffield
Gareth founded this co-operative to allow space for community to flourish. Over time, that’s settled into three main areas: food, including a vegetable box scheme and market garden; drink, a bar and a microbrewery producing craft beer and cider; and events, a two-day music festival and event management services.
Gareth is a champion of social and economic change through food. His five-year plan is to deepen the engagement between the community and its food systems by launching a community share offer and membership scheme, inviting the community to engage fully in the democratic governance and ownership of the Regather cooperative.
CEO of Birdsong, East London
Birdsong provides living-wage work to women from migrant communities in London using craft skills that they already have. There is a wealth of making skill among London’s migrant communities but the women Birdsong employ often face significant barriers to employment: for example language, lack of qualifications and childcare commitments.
Aside from the social mission, Sarah and the team have managed to build a manufacturing process that is local and lean, which gives them margins comparable to industry standards, and have provided 10,000 hours of paid work at the living wage to low-income women.
CEO of Autonome, Weston-super-Mare
Will’s vision is to make people with learning disabilities independent. The AutonoMe app helps people learn new skills through step-by-step videos and helps them self-evaluate their needs.
This helps carers understand where each individual is on their journey of independence, so they can make evidence-based decisions about their ongoing support needs. It’s already operating in seven local authorities in South West England, and Will’s ambition to make this a mainstream part of social care nationally.