I chose to study at the University of Birmingham because when I was visiting universities it was the most pleasant place to be actually. It was a wonderful red brick campus, lots of grass, but you’re so close to a city centre and having chosen to do my Master's there as well, I really enjoyed the nightlife, I enjoyed the friendships I made, I enjoyed being part of the societies at university.
My fondest memories from my time at the University of Birmingham are probably partly from the first year, the Halls of Residence, the Vale where first year stay is absolutely beautiful. I also worked there for four years as a maintenance man in the summer holidays, so loved that. And then partly also just at the sports pitches, the five-a-side, I spent many hours there with friends playing football, enjoying getting away from the course for a bit. I was involved in a society called Kids Adventure and this has now become a national charity and from my time there I got involved in the Third Sector and how you grow and develop small organisations and then my career has now taken that to the next level, so I work with individuals and organisations to help them generate income, to have a social impact and to make sure they’re sustainable in what they do.
Impact Hut Birmingham is one of over 70 of these hubs that are emerging or existing around the world and I first listed one in my normal job at the time, Bridging to the Future, in Zagreb and I spoke about what they do, how they work to develop social enterprise, social innovation and to really put local agendas and economies at the heart of growing new businesses. And then I heard that some people on Twitter, I saw the tweets, were developing one in Birmingham, did I want to go to London and so I got involved, got on a train at 5.30 in the morning down to London and that’s the first time I met the other co-founders.
I’ve worked with Bridging to the Future for four years, pretty much since I – when I was a Master’s student I started working with them and have done since then and they work to promote economic independence throughout the world, so we work with peripheral communities and individuals and we offer job creation methods, entrepreneurship education, we partner lots of organisations who are working with those really at the edges of society so they can create their own jobs, generate an income and have freedom of choice in their everyday life.
I think my top tip to students to make them make the most of their time at the University of Birmingham would be to always say yes. There’s lots of opportunities, there’s lots of people, there’s lots of different experiences you can have when you’re there.