One of the best ways for RSA Fellows to connect, share knowledge and skills is through the RSA’s SkillsBank, a network of individual Fellows who have been inspired to share their experiences, time and expertise to support others and specific projects.
SkillsBank is headed up by myself and Joanna Massie, and we’re always looking for new SkillsBank members and projects that Fellows can get involved in. As well as linking individual Fellows to projects, we send regular email updates which demonstrate a range of opportunities for Fellows to get involved in, from Fellow-led projects, RSA partner organisations and the RSA.
There are no rules of engagement – the connection can be a one-off phone call to give advice, acting as a mentor or trustee, or becoming an integral part of a project. This means that the matches don’t rely on geographical boundaries, so we could connect you to a Fellow or project in any one of the 80 countries covered by the RSA’s Fellowship.
We’re keen to showcase some of the connections we have made over the past couple of years. We linked Phyllis Martin FRSA (PM) who leads RSA Crowdfunded project Commonwealth Youth Circus to Amanda Chambers FRSA (AC), who has a background in marketing. This is how the connection worked.
Here in the Fellowship department we are very keen to forge partnerships with organisations that share similar values to our own, the overall idea being that through mutual collaboration we can make a much bigger impact. Recently, our thinking has turned to how we can open up the expertise within our network of Fellows to a younger audience.
Since the summer we have been working with an organisation called Student Hubs to develop a partnership which will bring together the collective expertise, enthusiasm and ideas of RSA Fellows and Student Hubs participants. Working across the UK, Student Hubs seeks to transform student involvement in social action. They act as a catalyst, empowering students to become active members of their community by promoting social action, social entrepreneurship and citizenship.
As with all of our Fellowship partnerships, by collaborating with like-minded organisations we hope to reach out to new audiences – making a bigger impact and helping our partners to do the same. With the support of Social Enterprise Berkshire’s Tony Davis FRSA, we held our our first joint event in Oxford two weeks ago, where students from the Oxford Hub met with RSA Fellows for an evening workshop to brainstorm ways to use Oxford’s empty shops to address a social need.
Be it youth unemployment, sustainable food production or community isolation, people came armed with ideas and possible solutions…
Set in the amazing Turl Street Kitchen (Oxford Hub and Student Hubs HQ), the event had a dual purpose: to introduce social enterprise by thinking about how we could use empty spaces for social good, and to encourage a mix of ideas and collaboration between different generations.
And this is what happened (click to enlarge)…
Great conversations made for some great ideas! But where can we go from here? Well, Student Hubs offers access to a range of funding bodies to support new ideas, and of course RSA Fellowship provides access to small grants through the Catalyst fund and the expertise of Fellows through the SkillsBank. The RSA South Central region is also launching a pop-up shop advice line for Fellows and RSA friends who want to know how to go about taking their ideas forward – get in touch with Alice Dyke, Regional Programme Manager at the RSA, for more information.
We’re hoping to run similar events and initiatives with Student Hubs in 2013 – so watch this space! Student Hubs are based in universities across England such as Southampton, Bristol and Cambridge – if you live in one of these areas and want to get involved get in touch with Amy Anderson, Oxford Hub Manager.
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We’re always happy to hear about potential opportunities for collaboration and partnership at the RSA – if you’d like to find out more, please contact our Partnership Development Co-ordinator, Jo Painter.
For more pictures from this and other RSA events, join the RSA Flickr group.