Students offer advice for SWA

20 Jun 2024

We were delighted to welcome a group of University of Birmingham students to the Green Wood Centre last week as part of a challenge to help us engage with a broader, younger audience.

One of the students, Kieran McRae, from Team Aucadia – which won the Capgemini Community Challenge as a result of their work, analysis and recommendations for Small Woods last week – gave this account of the time they spent at our headquarters in Shropshire...

Last week, I had the privilege of participating in the Capgemini Community Challenge, in partnership with the University of Birmingham. As a team of five enthusiastic students, we were given the unique opportunity to act as consultants for a week, tasked with providing innovative solutions for Small Woods, a remarkable charity based in Telford dedicated to woodland management and enhancing mental health and wellbeing through nature.

We were warmly welcomed by Small Woods' inspiring team members. Their passion for woodland conservation and community wellbeing was deeply motivating, making me eager to immerse myself in the challenge and help them reach a broader, younger audience.

Day 1: Meeting the team and understanding the mission

Our first day was all about getting to know Small Woods and the incredible work they do. We learned about the importance of sustainable woodland management and the various programmes they offer to support mental health through nature engagement. We came prepared with plenty of questions and Deb, Julia, and Dave were keen to share their insights and challenges, which provided us with a solid foundation to start brainstorming solutions.

Days 2 to 4: Research, strategy, and solutions

With a clear understanding of Small Woods' needs, our team dived into research and strategy development. We focused on three key areas: digital strategy, market research, and fundraising solutions. We needed to create a comprehensive, sustainable plan that would address their needs and set them up for long-term success.

Digital strategy: Being our primary focus, we proposed a dynamic social media plan and website enhancements to increase online visibility and engagement with younger audiences. Leveraging platforms like Instagram and TikTok, we suggested content that highlights the beauty of woodland activities and the benefits of nature for mental health.

Market research: We conducted thorough market research to identify preferences among younger demographics and compiled our findings into a detailed PDF report.

Fundraising solutions: To utilise Small Woods’ online traffic, we recommended monetising their social media accounts. We also initiated contact with universities, societies, and local colleges to raise awareness and recruit potential ambassadors for the cause alongside new membership tiers, a website tech report and newsletter recommendations.

Day 5: Presentation and feedback

The final day was an exciting competition where all the teams presented their solutions to their respective charities. We dedicated the day to preparing and presenting our deliverables to the Small Woods team, the executive vice president at Capgemini, and other stakeholders. Our tailored approach and practical solutions received overwhelmingly positive feedback, and we were honoured to be called the best team to help Small Woods in the past five years. Most importantly, we won the competition – a proud moment for all of us!

Reflection: A memorable experience

Participating in this challenge was an enriching experience for all of us. It not only allowed us to apply our academic knowledge in a real-world setting but also underscored the importance of understanding and addressing client needs directly. We are grateful for the opportunity to support Small Woods and contribute to their mission.

Team contributions

Precious: "Conducting the market research was a fascinating process. It was rewarding to see how our findings could directly impact Small Woods' strategies."

Rachel: "Developing the digital strategy was challenging but exciting. It was great to brainstorm creative ways to engage younger audiences."

Rakka: "Working on the fundraising solutions allowed me to think outside the box and propose ideas that I hope will make a difference."

Adam: "Collaborating with the Small Woods team was a highlight. Their dedication and feedback were incredibly motivating."


Our week with Small Woods was more than just a challenge: it was a journey of learning, collaboration, and impact. We look forward to seeing the positive changes our recommendations will bring and hope to stay connected with this wonderful charity as they continue to grow and thrive.

Team Aucadia, who won the Capgemini Community Challenge after presenting their findings and recommendations to help Small Woods reach a wider, younger audience.


The students were shown how the retort kiln works at the Green Wood Centre


Learning about woodland management at Small Woods


Exploring The Coracle Shed, at the Green Wood Centre