During #makeyourmark, you will be placed into a small interdisciplinary team and provided with support to develop a business idea which matches profit with purpose. 2021's challenges were on food poverty, climate change, mental health, and social inequality.

Climate Change

Climate change describes a change in average conditions and encompasses both the global warming driven by human emissions of greenhouse gases, and the resulting large-scale shifts in weather patterns.

On 1 May 2019, the United Kingdom declared a state of climate emergency. "Over the last decade, summers have been 13% wetter, and winters have been 12% wetter than the period 1961–1990", the Met Office states in their key findings from the State of the UK Climate report.

The government's latest climate change risk assessment identifies flood risk, and particularly flooding from heavy downpours, as one of the key climate threats for the UK, alongside stresses on water resources, threats to biodiversity and natural habitats, and the repercussions for the UK from climate change impacts abroad. Conversely, it suggests the UK could also experience warmer, drier summers in the future. Heatwaves could heighten pressure on healthcare services, because older populations are more vulnerable to extreme heat, and impact on transport as higher summer temperatures bring the threat of rail buckling and associated travel delays.

The UK government seeks to achieve net-zero emissions before 2050, calling for a 'zero waste economy'. The decision stresses the need for the government and administration to devise measures to mitigate climate change. Community Resources Network Scotland (CRNS) is the national membership body for social enterprises in reuse, repair, and recycling. Their members diverted over 37,000 tonnes of material from landfill, an estimated net saving of 75,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide, combating climate change and creating jobs.

Your challenge is to develop a business or service that provides a solution to some aspect of Climate Change in the UK and/or helps to generate revenue for organisations working in this area.

Food Poverty

Food poverty has been defined by Professor Elizabeth Dowler (2003) as: "the inability to consume an adequate quality or sufficient quantity of food that is useful for health in socially acceptable ways, or the uncertainty that one will be able to do so." It can impact a person's physical and psychological wellbeing and can be based on economic, social, or cultural reasons.

Many who struggle to afford food will not, for various reasons, access a foodbank. Sixteen percent of the Scottish population are identified as living in relative poverty; these types of households typically spend 23% of their weekly income on food which is more than twice the proportion spent by wealthier households. Research into food poverty points to causes such as low income, including being underpaid, insecure work, and inadequate benefits, in addition to rising food prices and higher family expenses like fuel and rent. Furthermore, those experiencing food poverty have issues accessing shops selling affordable, healthy foods.

Your challenge is to develop a business or service that provides a solution to some aspect of food poverty in the UK and/or helps to generate revenue for organisations working in this area.

Mental Health (including Isolation)

The American Psychological Association defines mental health as "a state of mind characterised by emotional wellbeing, good behavioural adjustment, relative freedom from anxiety and disabling symptoms, and a capacity to establish constructive relationships and cope with the ordinary demands and stresses of life." In other words, mental health underlies our ability to inhabit our worlds, to feel like we belong, and consequently to flourish, to lead emotionally and materially fulfilling lives. Yet the incidence of poor mental health has been increasingly described as an 'epidemic', both in the UK and worldwide.

Some causes for a decline in mental health include detrimental work and life conditions, social alienation, and grief, including climate grief. No doubt, the Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated all these stressors with young people bearing the heaviest mental health toll. Some researchers claim that the UK is now sleepwalking into a mental health crisis.

While the stressors of mental health are many and of global significance, this challenge asks you to build a project for local and targeted action that can help transform the conditions that contribute to poor mental health, and therefore support people in rebuilding theirs.

Social Inequality (including Access to Digital Education and Migration)

Social inequality refers to how differences in social location – along lines of class, race, gender, sexuality, ability, age, and so on – produce different opportunities for and outcomes in people's ability to lead materially, psychologically, and emotionally safe, healthy, and fulfilling lives. For example, during the ongoing pandemic, poorer students lost significantly more learning than wealthier students, women have been at greater risk of unemployment and economic precarity than men, and Black and Asian people in the UK have died of Covid-19 at higher rates than white people.

Certainly, these differences are a stark reflection of already existing pre-Covid social inequalities. Tackling issues of social inequality require both changes in personal and public understanding of and attitudes towards people with diverse social histories and backgrounds (namely undoing interpersonal and public prejudice and discrimination) as well as creating alternative public and private institutions that are concerned with redressing prior harms of inequality and creating more equitable futures.

While addressing the issue of social inequality requires mass social and institutional interventions, smaller grassroots and community based enterprises have long been involved in addressing the harms of social inequality on a micro-level and advocating for change on a macro level, such as Saheliya, Living Rent, and People & Planet. This challenge asks you to identify a pressing issue pertaining to social inequality and create a holistic response that addresses immediate need and future possibilities.