Community Success: Birmingham University Students pitch #ImYourRock for the Virgin Money Giving Challenge
How we all met
In the early morning of a weekend in November, the University of Birmingham Careers Network organized a bootcamp in collaboration with Virgin Money. The bootcamp presented 4 challenges, each from different areas of the Virgin brands, and gave participants two and a half days to create and pitch solutions to these challenges.
As individuals, we could choose which challenge we wanted to participate in however we were placed in teams at random. So the five of us, complete strangers, were put into a team with the task of coming up with a viral campaign for a charity. View the full challenge.
We all came from different backgrounds; Salma is currently a final year Economics student, Aistė is also a final year studying Business Management and Ramyar is a second-year Political Economy student. We weren’t just undergraduates, Kamlesh is currently doing his PhD in Physical Sciences for Health and Mengyi a MSc in Financial Engineering!
We knew almost instantly that mental health would be the focal point of our campaign, as the issue is very acute these days, particularly among students experiencing high levels of stress and anxiety.
Whilst coming up with ideas, we were told a personal story which later formed the concept of our viral campaign. The story was an actual experience of one of our members. Salma was sitting on a train and a girl approached her with a colourful ‘Travelling’ pebble painted by hand, explaining that it had been passed on to her by a stranger and was asked to keep it moving. Salma then passed it on to her friend who was very excited to be a part of the pebble’s journey and ensured it continued. We’ve been told that the pebble has now left the country!
We loved the fact that the idea involved a personal human touch in this increasingly digital world. It seemed to perfectly encapsulate the warmth and empathy that is needed to raise awareness about mental health stigma. Our idea was to issue rocks with the #ImYourRock hashtag around the University campus, encouraging people to say something nice to a person when passing on the rock and to share a photo with the hashtag on social media.
After an intense weekend at the bootcamp, we’d prepared for the pitch as much as we could in the given time. As a team, we walked to the Business School, rehearsing our lines and calming our nerves. The teams were spread into three rooms to do the initial pitches, with the winners of each room moving on to the finals. We presented our idea to the panel of judges, and once all teams had rejoined in the main lecture theatre, it was announced we had been chosen to move on to the finals. Here we presented to over 100 students, who now became our judges. Everyone in the room was given a vote, and after some painstakingly long announcements, once tallied up, we were declared the winners. The euphoria of winning was amplified by the resounding support from everyone in the room who encouraged us to launch the campaign saying how simple yet amazing the idea was.
Judges from Virgin Money and Student LifeStart then invited us to present the concept to Virgin Money Giving in their London HQ. With their support and advice, we decided to do the testing at the University of Birmingham.
Getting rocks ready
Despite everyone’s busy schedules, we managed to meet up to discuss the next steps of the project. After trying a few design ideas, one very crafty member of the team created a stencil which we could use to spray paint the rocks with.
On a cold winter afternoon, we came together with a mission to spray paint 15 rocks with the #ImYourRock hashtag in gold. The next day we couldn’t wait to share them with our friends and course mates. In fact, it has quickly become clear that we will need more of these rocks as people are so eager to get them!
All 15 rocks have begun their journey with most of them starting in Birmingham, but one can only imagine where they’ll end up. Maybe you’ll receive one soon, and if you want to see where they are check #ImYourRock on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to log their journey.