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Over 70 students from Keele University’s Business School have worked alongside local charities to support their recovery from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

As part of a social enterprise module taught by Dr Xuebing Cao and Dr Moshood Bello, the students worked in small groups to help 11 local non-profit organisations such as the Alice Charity, Brighter Futures, and Canine Partners find practical solutions to real life challenges they were facing.

The students interviewed CEOs and representatives from the organisations and provided a range of recommendations to help them overcome issues they are facing such as ways they can adapt their business model in accordance with Covid, suggesting new marketing techniques, and ways to increase the success of fundraising activities.

Florian Michelmann, a third-year international student, said: “The module provided me with new insight on the work and mission of non-profit organisations and the challenges they face. I really liked that guest speakers were invited to describe their individual experiences in different businesses. Moreover, the group assessment helped me to strengthen my skills regarding organising projects, and allowed me to take a new perspective of business and management

“Working with Alice Charity was superb, and we worked with their HR director to provide a number of recommendations including ways to help them attract the right talent to work at the social enterprise and advising them to consider changing their branding to better represent their services as they are currently very female-orientated through their logo and use of imagery.”

These recommendations were then presented to the organisations through online group presentations and a report, with many of the organisations giving positive feedback and supporting the students’ recommendations.

Kayla Poole, HR Director at Alice Charity, said: “It was an absolute pleasure to work with the students and hear their ideas and solutions to organisational problems. They came to each problem witch fresh, innovate and creative ideas.”

Erin Sohnrey, a second-year Human Resource Management and International Business student, said: “The experience of working with Brighter Futures has made me more aware of how much Staffordshire is affected by homelessness and poverty and how this is linked to other socioeconomic problems such as mental illness, helplessness and exploitation.

“The module taught me how HR can support individuals who may come from difficult circumstances and the important role that social enterprises play. In my opinion, I think the organisation benefitted by the work we did and suggestions we made, and now fellow students are more familiar with a range of societal issues.”

The success of the module showcases Keele Business School’s commitment to facilitating student engagement with a range of organisations, markets and the local community.

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