Network of student consultants wins Points of Light award

16 October 2020 3 min. read
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A network of students providing free consultancy services to charities has been handed a Points of Light Award by the Prime Minister’s Office. The awards scheme is aimed at recognising the commitment of volunteers offering important services to the community in difficult times.

The Points of Light concept dates back to the administration of George H. W. Bush in 1990. Launched to laud outstanding individual volunteers or people who are making a change in their community, over 6,000 Points of Light have been recognised in the US since. The UK equivalent was developed in partnership with the US programme before launching in the Cabinet Room at 10 Downing Street in 2014.

In the six years since, hundreds of people have been named Points of Light by the last three British Prime Ministers, praising volunteers focusing on everything from knife crime to supporting families of dementia patients. As the UK faces a sustained public health crisis, and the worst recession since the Second World War, individuals looking to support their communities with their response to Covid-19 have also been commended.

Network of student consultants wins Points of Light award

Most recently, this has seen the Covid-19 Student Response Network recognised as a Point of Light. Founded by Jack Elliot, Immy Ireland, Tom Steggall and Lee D’arcy – all senior members of the Bristol wing of 180 Degrees Consulting – the CSRN platform aims to provide the necessary resources and infrastructure enabling student consultancies to achieve impact at scale. The team of over 500 student volunteers is a collaborative effort led by student consultants from top universities around the world, as well as in the UK.

In a personal letter to co-founder Elliot, the UK’s incumbent Prime Minister Boris Johnson said, “I was inspired to hear of your fantastic ‘Covid-19 Student Response Network’ through which you have harnessed the intellectual might of Britain’s brightest young minds to support charities... Your army of volunteers are turning their talents from analysing data to management strategies and showcasing a spirit of collaboration and ingenuity which embodies the very best of Britain.”

The network of established students consultancies – including a number which belong to 180 Degrees – has linked its sizable talent base with 85 social impact organisations, while the consultants are supported by official training partners Accenture, DATA3, and Tata Consultancy Services. This has seen the students develop management strategies, service design, data analytics, and other consultancy services, allowing students to build their skills and experience while helping to create social impact.

In addition to their Covid-19 response, the network has also supported charities in Lebanon responding to the Beirut explosion. Partnering with 180 Degrees Consulting branches from all over the world, it has offered management consultancy services to organisations impacted by the recent Beirut explosion, or those supporting the community and other organisations that have been. Meanwhile, the Covid-19 Student Response Network alsobuilt a team of incredibly passionate Lebanese students who are working hard to engage with charities and community groups in Beirut on behalf of the network.

Commenting on the network’s recognition, Elliot said, “It is an incredible honour to receive the Points of Light award, it means so much to all of us at CSRN to see the incredible work of our network recognised at such a level within the UK Government…  We hope that our success inspires talented and driven students from all over the UK to engage in third sector consulting during their studies. We launched CSRN at a time when the third sector needed it most and it is difficult to put into words just how proud we all are of what we’ve managed to achieve in the last four months.”