In 2008, a Bradford-based organisation called Partners in Innovation held the first Solutions for the Planet competition. It was called ‘Solutions for the Planet – the Great Debate’, and the final was held at the Palace of Westminster. The winners that year were a team from St Joseph’s Catholic College, Bradford, and their Big Idea was called ‘Pack for Mums and Babies’.
The girls’ winning idea was to raise money through promoting virtual packs that could be delivered to mothers and their babies. For £30, a pack could contain all the essential life-saving items, dependent on each individual woman’s requirements. Examples of ‘items’ in the virtual pack include the training of a traditional birth attendant, a water filtration kit, essential medicines, and a mosquito net.
They went on to work with CAFOD, which adopted the idea to become part of their range of ethical ‘World Gifts’ for 2009, where people can purchase a World Gift for Christmas and in doing so, make a donation towards a specific fund which will support people living in poverty in the developing world – and this pack has raised more than £170,000 as well as saving lives! They got the opportunity to travel to Nigeria with the charity to see the impacts of their Big Idea first-hand, met the then-Prime Minister’s wife Sarah Brown, were nominated for the Sue Ryder Yorkshire Young Achiever of the Year Award, and went on to apply for university courses in medicine and international relations – “Their choices have been strongly influenced by their time in Nigeria, and their Big Idea.” (Elaine Barker, former Development Director at Partners in Innovation – news story here).
5 years and 4 more winners later, in 2013, a new organisation was born – Solutions for the Planet Ltd – and the programme and competition that had successfully run since 2008 continued, with a new name – the Big Ideas programme and the Big Ideas Competition.
Since then we have worked with more than 14,000 young people, and our footprint this year grew to include Scotland, North-East England, Yorkshire, the West Midlands, London, Kent and Hampshire. This year we worked with 32 schools – including the school where the original winning team were pupils, now known as St. Bede’s and St. Joseph’s Catholic College. The Big Ideas keep on coming!
The winners in 2017 were a team called Bin It to Win It, and they came from Pudsey Grangefield School in West Yorkshire.
Their Big Idea was to create a rewards-based app and game to encourage young people to recycle. Their teacher, Subject Leader of Business, HSC and Psychology Sarah Boyes, said: “STEM subjects tend to be typically male-dominated, which is concerning because our current economy is very much STEM-based. The jobs of the future and the competitive advantage of the country relies on the future generation being able to innovate and generate ideas faster and of a better quality than other economies. Programmes like this help to ensure that girls are a part of this movement.
The girls have developed a really strong sense of self belief, they truly feel that they can go out and conquer the world and intend to do so.”
So – with only one week to go until Solutions for the Planet’s Big Ideas Competition 2018 National Final, we can’t wait to see all 12 finalists present, again at the Palace of Westminster, and discover who the judges will choose to award this year. Make their job a tough one teams!! Good luck and see you all in London on July 11th!