Business works with student talent to better support local community

Logos of HLSM and the ESF

This project is part-funded by the European Social Fund.

A non-profit community interest company has been able to access vital student support from local universities in order to make a positive difference to young people, families, the homeless and more in the community.

Posted 11 August 2022

An animated image of a community.

A company with the community at its heart

OpenDorz provides individuals with the tools they need to become positive role models in their own community.

They then take the OpenDorz values to the wider community, striving to work with those in the wider community who have been harder to reach.

“The overall aim (of OpenDorz) is to provide opportunities for individuals, in order to help them succeed in reaching their goals,” says Emily Ashmore, the company’s Founder and Director.

As a non-profit organisation, Emily and the team rely heavily on volunteering and funding opportunities, depending on availability and criteria.

Opening doors to a bright future 

Emily is a graduate of Newman University in Birmingham, where she began her journey in creating OpenDorz. Through the support at the university, she began receiving help from the Higher Level Skills Match (HLSM) programme.

HLSM – part-funded by the European Social Fund – is an account-managed recruitment and upskilling service that helps businesses in the region build their skills and knowledge, as well as access new talent.

Partnering with HLSM has supported Emily with skills gaps and equipped her with the necessary resources to build the organisation.

“My HLSM account manager gave me the confidence to believe in myself and encouraged me to turn my ideas into a social enterprise,” Emily explains.

“The networks I have made have enabled me to secure work and funding, which has helped my business to sustain itself.”

Accessing talented students

Logo for OpenDorz

Newman University provided a placement student that helped OpenDorz to gain “fresh ideas and skills from future graduates.” This student has since graduated and become a full-time employee of the business.

Another partner of HLSM is Birmingham City University (BCU), and Emily began a fruitful partnership with BCU’s marketing students.

Together, Emily and the students worked on a campaign entitled ‘Help the Phoneless’, which aimed to help Birmingham’s homeless people by providing them with 100 free handsets.

By having access to these phones, the homeless could make doctors appointments, contact job centres and seek help from charities.

The campaign proved to be hugely successful and was achieved through the students creating high-quality content and producing monthly social media reports, which helped the team attract extra publicity and vital funding.

The knowledge shared by students helped the team to understand their social media impact so they could continue to grow through these channels.

Additionally, students from Newman University helped create and deliver informal educational workshops in schools. These included workshops focusing on financial literacy and career development.

Only the beginning…

Recently, OpenDorz ran a family fun day at Newman University.

The event provided a day of activities for families and young people within the area of Bartley Green, which does not currently offer any known youth provisions.

The fun day was set up to promote OpenDorz’s upcoming youth centre.

Looking into the future for the organisation, Emily hopes to continue to work closely with the HLSM partnership to both support OpenDorz and help bridge the skills gaps that is present in students, which is one of the aims for the organisation.

“Signing up to HLSM has enabled me to take my business to the next step,” Emily beams.

“(I have gained) undergraduate support in relation to marketing and promotion, and work placement students to help run events and deliver informal educational workshops.”

It is not the first time HLSM has provided talented student support to make a difference to a business.

Recently, Birmingham CEO Dalbir Kaur successfully launched an innovative health and wellbeing app thanks to the support of BCU students and graduates.

HLSM has also been recognised nationally, recently winning an AGCAS Award for Excellence.

Interested in gaining new skills, knowledge and talent? Find out more on how HLSM can help you.

More information on assistance for SMEs can be found via our business growth support page.