Student entrepreneurs invited to Buckingham Palace to launch Royal young leaders award
Business-minded students lead international project supporting survivors of human trafficking
Student-run entrepreneurial company makes a difference to lives across the world
Two inspirational students who have dedicated their lives to helping people in need have been invited to Buckingham Palace to launch an award celebrating young leaders across the Commonwealth.
Student entrepreneurs Bethan Rimmington, 23, and Ellie Morrissey, 19, from the University of Sheffield, visited Buckingham Palace to help launch the Queen’s Young Leaders award, a new programme searching for inspirational young people who are making a difference in their communities.
Bethan and Ellie, who are studying International Business and Economics respectively, were invited in recognition of their work for Enactus Sheffield, through which they’ve been using their entrepreneurial skills to make a difference to lives throughout the world as well as locally across South Yorkshire.
While studying in Sheffield, Bethan and Ellie are part of leading Enactus Sheffield, a student company which aims to empower people in need in the local and international community. Their project, HOPE, supports survivors of human trafficking and domestic and sexual abuse through enterprise.
Working across three safe houses in Sheffield, HOPE enables women to experience working in a jewellery enterprise, supporting them to make, market and sell the jewellery, gaining valuable enterprise skills. The project has a partnership with the Princes’ Trust and Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG), to help women into employment or individual enterprise.
“A few weeks ago I had a phone call from Comic Relief asking me to support a new programme they are launching to promote young leaders. I said yes of course, though the phone call was quite vague, so when an email arrived inviting me to the launch of the programme at Buckingham Palace I was pretty much gobsmacked!” Bethan said.
“We were there as leaders of HOPE and were mentioned in the welcome speech by Sir John Major. We also had the honour of meeting Prince William and speaking to him about our project and human trafficking. He said himself and Kate are very supportive of anti-trafficking efforts and congratulated us on what we are doing.”
Sara Pates, Enterprise Business Manager at the University of Sheffield Enterprise, said: “Beth and Ellie are an inspiration. They embody the hope and ambition the University has for all of its students and graduates; to use their knowledge, experience and skills to improve the lives of those around them. But rarely do we have the opportunity to see such transparent and visible impact. I am delighted that their passion and commitment is being celebrated in such a public way.”
Previous Enactus Sheffield projects include Blankets for Bolivia, a social enterprise making emergency blankets from recycled crisp packets. This provides the families involved with a stable income, and the opportunity to help the wider community by distributing the blankets to homeless people in the surrounding area.
More recently, Enactus Sheffield created the ‘Homemade’ project, working with homeless men to help them gain financial stability and once again become self-sufficient.
This is achieved through the framework of a jam-making business; the individuals develop transferable business skills, such as budgeting and time management. All of the profits are reinvested back into a microfinance fund, providing a source of financial support for the individuals.
In March 2013, HOPE launched a project to tackle a source of human trafficking in Nigeria and empower vulnerable women in rural communities.
Following the success of a pilot trip, the students established a co-operative of ten women, effectively manufacturing shea butter (used in cosmetics and the food industry) which is currently being stocked in local supermarkets and beauty salons, as well as being supplied in bulk to outlets in the USA.
To ensure a high quality of shea butter, the students utilised the research capabilities of the University of Sheffield’s Faculty of Engineering.
Ellie Morrissey added: “This year is a really exciting year for HOPE as we aim to develop the project even further by employing more survivors of human trafficking and domestic and sexual abuse in our cosmetics business and franchising out our project across more safe houses across the country.”
With almost 25,000 of the brightest students from around 120 countries, learning alongside over 1,200 of the best academics from across the globe, the University of Sheffield is one of the world’s leading universities.
A member of the UK’s prestigious Russell Group of leading research-led institutions, Sheffield offers world-class teaching and research excellence across a wide range of disciplines.
Unified by the power of discovery and understanding, staff and students at the university are committed to finding new ways to transform the world we live in.
In 2014 it was voted number one university in the UK for Student Satisfaction by Times Higher Education and in the last decade has won four Queen’s Anniversary Prizes in recognition of the outstanding contribution to the United Kingdom’s intellectual, economic, cultural and social life.
Sheffield has five Nobel Prize winners among former staff and students and its alumni go on to hold positions of great responsibility and influence all over the world, making significant contributions in their chosen fields.
Global research partners and clients include Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Unilever, AstraZeneca, Glaxo SmithKline and Siemens, as well as many UK and overseas government agencies and charitable foundations.