Bouncing back: Make a difference with these social impact initiatives

Bust out of the Cambridge bubble in new and exciting ways

An often underrated aspect of the Cambridge is the ability to collaborate with energetic peers and have an impact in unique and innovative ways. We’ve put together a sampling of seven societies trying to connect with the community, raise awareness about different issues, and facilitate engaging and mutually educational ways of giving back.

1) Cambridge University Students Against Pseudoscience

Students Against Pseudoscience was set up during the Covid break to focus on “the mechanism and effects of misinformation, anti-science and conspiracy.” Barty Wardell (Computer Officer) and Christopher Cheng (Secretary) share that they’re “pretty confident” no similar student society exists both across the UK and internationally.

Enormously relevant in the current climate, the society’s game plan is to build a core community in Cambridge (via speakers events and bridges with other related societies), host discussion platforms (on issues such as social media regulation and PSHE education objectives), and organize workshops that address communication with loved ones vulnerable to misinformation.

Image credits: CU Students Against Pseudoscience

Overall, “you shall find a broad academic perspective that allows you to learn about topics you otherwise wouldn’t, all while making connections and maybe even friends!”

Sign up on this events link to keep up-to-date (they’ll also be hosting a pub quiz with free drinks), follow their Instagram, and consider applying to their committee! Workload is flexible (as long as you’re committed) and subject, previous knowledge, and experience level do not matter.

2) May Week Alternative

May Week Alternative, one of Cambridge’s largest charity movements, aims to “reshape the way people interact with charity, turning it into an incredibly positive experience by combining the act of giving with celebration.”

You’ll be invited to donate a personally significant amount (going towards the Against Malaria Foundation, which is independently rated as one of the world’s most effective charities) which will then be match-funded, so whatever you give has double the impact it would otherwise! 

Image credits: May Week Alternative

To celebrate their collective impact, they always host a Summer Party during May Week (funded entirely by their sponsors, so 100% of the money raised goes to charity). Covid couldn’t dampen them– kicking off with a virtual launch party in Lent, they raised ~£80,000 (enough to protect approximately 90,000 people from malaria).

Against all odds, their Covid-safe Summer Party (pictured) went ahead too! Follow their Instagram, Facebook, and website for updates and consider signing up as a representative.

3) Band Together Cambridge

Dedicated to supporting student mental health, it’s safe to say most of us would find this newly formed society enormously relevant and engaging.

Lent term 2021 was when they really increased  output and presence– primarily through launching the 73/73 challenge– to raise awareness for the 73% of students who had reported a decline in their overall mental health and support the charities who supported them. The challenge involved people taking 73 minutes to themselves, donating £7, and tagging 3 friends.

Image credits: Band Together Cambridge

75% of JCRs and sports societies were involved, the central university posted them, and over 1000 students posted themselves taking 73 minutes to themselves. Over £10k was raised by students up and down the country with St Andrews and Newcastle University also getting involved. 

 Another project they launched (in collaboration with the OLLIE foundation) was suicide prevention workshops. Their main goals this Michaelmas are to continue to de-stigmatise mental health through their themed social media posts but also to venture into fundraising.

Look out for their fundraising club night at MASH called Jukebox and a social at Clare Cellars they have in the works. Contact them at [email protected] and keep an eye on their website, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook

4) Enactus

An entrepreneurship driven society trying to create effective, student-led social impact enterprises, “Enactus has everything that a Cambridge student who is altruistic and socially minded could want”.

As a committee, students get to decide what projects they want to work on to generate impact and they are not held back in terms of focus areas or regional scope. Projects can be local to Cambridge or international in scope.

Image credits: Enactus Cambridge

The opportunity to be recognised is also available via the Enactus World Cup– the social impact competition for Enactus societies at different unis all over the world wherein the uni that generates the ‘greatest’ impact wins.

Enactus also offers real employment chances– being part of Enactus Cambridge often enables you being fast-tracked into internship and graduate recruitment programs of Enactus UK corporate partners such as EY, Unilever, SAP and several others.

This year, they plan to have as many weekly meetings in person as possible as well as talks, events, and other projects. Follow @enactuscambridge on Instagram and Facebook to find out more.

5) Pink Week

Aimed at raising awareness and money for breast cancer charities through a week of fundraising and educational events in early February, Cambridge Pink Week has raised over £135,000 since it was started in Clare College by Nina Rauch (in celebration of her late mother Dina Rabinovitc).

They’re planning for this Pink Week to be the biggest yet! Look forward to a week jam-packed with both fun and educational events– between the 7th-13th of February, the whole of Cambridge will be turning pink.

Post-COVID restrictions, they’re also excited for the return of the Pink Week Ball, “an incredible night full of entertainment, food, drinks where we can all come together in aid of an incredible cause.’ Previous year’s themes have been ‘the Secret Garden’ and the ‘Night Sky.’

Image credits: Cambridge Pink Week

They’re recruiting for College Reps who play a super important role in Pink Week. As a representative of your Cambridge College, you’ll be able to work on college-level Pink Week events such as Pink Formals, swaps, bops or a special ‘pink’ drink at your college bar- you have complete creativity and they can’t wait to get you all involved and hear all of your ideas!

Make sure you follow them on Instagram and Facebook (both @cambridgepinkweek)

6) Schools Connect

Schools Connect is a student-led charity that runs projects in different schools across Cambridge to help students in need. Pre COVID, they were tutoring in multiple secondary schools across Cambridge in a wide range of subjects. Even under COVID restrictions, they managed to get some exciting projects launched (such as aiding with reading at a primary school).

Present Sophie Barnett shared that their tutoring is largely about “building connections with the students and boosting their confidence and engagement with academics.”

Giving a specific example, she adds that, “In the first week, one child barely spoke a word to me throughout the session. However, as we progressed, he began to open up, and we found ways to engage with the reading by figuring out what he was most interested in.”

Image credits: Schools Connect

This year it’s absolutely essential that they recruit as many tutors as possible! They hope to get back to pre-pandemic levels of tutoring, across four different secondary schools, and continue their expansion into primary schools.

They also hope to run events to increase students’ awareness of higher education and their links with Cambridge.

Follow them on Facebook and Instagram for updates! You can also contact them via email at [email protected]

7) Lawyers Without Borders (Student Division at the University of Cambridge)

Not restricted to law students, this society is very welcoming to students of all degrees who are committed to upholding the rule of law and promoting human rights.

Under Covid, Zoom speakers events became their priority. They were able to source speakers from all over the UK (and indeed, the world) to discuss prominent human rights issues.  However, they realised students were missing out on opportunities to directly engage with the issues and shifted their focus to providing research opportunities.

Image credits: CU Lawyers Without Borders

They’ve elected a completely new executive and central committee dedicated to revitalizing the society post-Covid. They’re planning collaborations with CULS and human rights-based societies and will be expanding the research opportunities they provide (as these have proved very popular).

Social impact initiatives provide an excellent avenue to break out of the Cambridge bubble and expand your horizons– along with developing your own skills and social circle. Don’t be afraid to reach out to committees even when deadlines have passed– they’re usually very happy to get new recruits on board.

Featured Image Credits: May Week Alternative, @acambridgediary, Schools Connect, CU Students Against Pseudoscience

Related stories recommended by this author: