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The Social Impact Game: Everyone's a winner

Words: Giselle Kennedy

The Social Impact Game is back by popular demand, with students lining up to take part in the award-winning Nottingham Advantage Award module. The aim of the game is for students to team up with alumni and employer ‘Business Partners’ and ‘Project Advisors’ to co-create projects that have a measurable social impact. They’ve all kindly volunteered to take part and have been hard at work over the last few months, developing innovative solutions to tackle real world problems. And it’s thanks to donations to Cascade, our grant fund for student-led projects, that we were able to fund collaboration tools that helped to make the module possible.

We caught up with Physics student Polly Mitchell to find out how she’s using the experience to help others and  develop her skills. 

Taking the plunge

“I wanted to get involved in the Social Impact Game as I’ve had trouble in the past with my communication skills, particularly with public speaking. I thought that the programme would give me a chance to gain confidence in that area by forcing me out of my comfort zone."

The project 

“My project is called the Small Business Social Impact Assessment and it involves creating a toolkit to help small businesses maximise their social impact. 

“We’ve shared tasks in our team and I’ve been in charge of research. I interviewed small business owners to assess what they were already doing and find out how we could help them to make a social impact. They were often extremely busy, so persuading them to give 45 minutes of their time was tricky! You have to really focus on what benefits they will get out of it.”

Working with employers

“Our Business Partner was Paul Corcoran from Interimconsult and he was invaluable. Without him we would have never had the opportunity to do the project in the first place and certainly wouldn’t have made it to the finish line. Throughout the project we had weekly meetings and he gave really useful feedback and provided a lot of small business contacts for us to interview. I would normally never have had the chance to talk to business owners, it was an insight into the world outside university.”


A toolkit with a difference

“We found that small businesses are already doing a lot to make a social impact in their own communities and elsewhere without realising it. They have introduced social impact schemes like volunteer hours for employees, charity events, recycling or hiring more apprentices. Our toolkit will help them to understand the importance of that impact, show it off to customers and prospective employees, and give them tips and tricks to optimise the impact they’re making.”

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Developing new skills 

“At the start of the project, I was daunted by the sheer amount of work needed. I surprised myself with how much my team achieved. Learning to have confidence in myself and my team was a big thing. 

“My confidence has increased so much since starting the game. The final stage of our project will be hosting a webinar. If you had asked me to do something like this a few months ago I would have been sent straight into a spiral of fear and panic and would have refused point blank. Now I have more faith in my own abilities, I am not so nervous and I’m even looking forward to it!” 

You can play the Social Impact Game too

Thank you to our incredible volunteers who kindly give their time to support students like Polly. If you’re interested in volunteering with the university or you would like to take part in the next Social Impact Game, we would love to hear from you.

Register your interest in volunteering


Read more from Ambition issue 2:

Waste not, want Notts

How student project Foodprint has been helping the local community during the pandemic.

New Covid-19 vaccine in development
A new vaccine is in the works which potentially has greater chances of success against a mutating virus.

How your support has helped students shine through the pandemic
We asked two students to tell us how they have dealt with the challenges created by Covid-19.

Graduating to the frontline
How one medicine scholar has been fast-tracked to the fight against Covid-19.

New home for University Radio Nottingham thanks to your donations
University Radio Nottingham has moved out of its former home in the basement to a shiny new studio in the Portland Building. 

From grassroots to greatness
How your support for our student project fund Cascade is helping make sport accessible to all.



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Ambition issue two is also available as a PDF.

Download Ambition