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Social Hackathons are problem-solving and solution-creating events that give UCL volunteers first-hand insight into charity careers.

Volunteers are placed with a local not-for-profit organisation for one day, devising and implementing solutions to issues they currently face.

In teams, the volunteers develop skills, learn about the Third Sector from its own professionals and connect with new communities across London.

If you’re interested in taking place in our Social Hackathons programme this November, you can apply here (UCL login required)!

Here’s what it’s like to take part in our Hackathons below.

Social Hackathons - February 2019

In February 2019, volunteers went into four local charities: Fulham Good Neighbours, Age UK Westminster, Yes Futures and Calthorpe Project.

They worked on a range of tasks: compiling a Business Case for setting up a trading subsidiary; designing a visually impaired-friendly website; devising a marketing strategy and engaging an isolated community.

You can find out more about each Hackathon from our Photojournalists who attended and documented the events.

“I met some lovely and friendly people” - volunteer with Age UK Westminster 


We also spoke to Rhea and Dorad, Hackathon volunteers, about their experience. Rhea told us all about her day with Fulham Good Neighbours - although not usually a fan of group projects, Rhea loved taking part in the project and seeing that her work had made a genuine impact. 

Dorad was placed with Age UK Westminster and looked at designing and implementing a more visually impaired-friendly website. Looking for a career in coding and IT, he was super happy that the Hackathon enabled him to combine his passions with altruism.

“I feel as though the charity will actually use our research, so it’s very worthwhile” - UCL volunteer with Fulham Good Neighbours

For each charity, volunteers produced an incredible, comprehensive report on their research with suggestions and recommendations. These were gratefully received by the charity leads and have been presented to trustee boards and other governing staff members to implement solutions. 

“We now have fresh new ideas to work with and implement” - Yes Futures representative

Social Hackathons - November 2019

Last November, our Hackathon series ran for a second time, with the London Museum of Water & Steam, Action on Hearing Loss, Holborn Community Centre and Museum of Brands. Students for each Hackathon were tasked with developing a volunteer recruitment process, designing a sensory garden for service users, creating a social enterprise and coming up with engagement strategy respectively. 

Our photojournalists attended two of our Hackathons - find out what happened at the London Museum of Water & Steam and Action on Hearing Loss.

“Social Hackathons are a great way to get out of your student routine and try something new” - UCL volunteer with Museum of Brands

Philippine attended our Hackathon at the Museum of Brands - as someone who wants to go into the charity sector, she loved that it gave her a unique perspective on how a charity operates and engages their visitors.

Maria volunteered with Holborn Community Association and enjoyed the fact that the problem-solving nature of Hackathons gave her a refreshing outlook on volunteering. 

“It’s such a great feeling to know that you’re having such a positive impact on your community!” - UCL volunteer with Holborn Community Association 

Social Hackathons - November 2020

We’ll be running another series of our Social Hackathons this November virtually - you can apply here!

In the meantime, we’ve got plenty of engaging opportunities on our volunteering directory, where you can browse the latest virtual volunteering roles to get involved in. Alternatively, if you want to help in response to Covid-19, we have several opportunities which you can also view on our directory.

And don’t forget to stay in touch - sign up to hear more from us about volunteering!