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 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.
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 or 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 2022 prize are open from December 2021 to April 2022.
Visit the Cambridge Centre for Social Innovation website for more information and details on the application process.
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.