A volunteer-led charity, SMBP is a collaboration of over 200 commercial organisations, professional services firms and professional sports teams working in towns and cities across the U.K. All are committed to supporting students from low income backgrounds in their pursuit of a career in business. Since 2014, SMBP has grown from offering opportunities to 20 students in London, to 650 student places across the UK in 2023.

Students are invited to an induction prior to the Programme where SMBP staff will discuss the importance of competencies and inform students of their week and what to expect.

Students benefit from visiting four different businesses in a week, learning through interactive business games, and spend the fifth day at a professional sports club where they learn about the psychology of resilience. They are given access to the SMBP App upon registration where they can access everything they need for the week, access to additional career support, skills zone, information on student finance plus much more. Following the week, the SMBP Career Mentoring platform then supports them through their journey to a career.


Do you have an app?

Yes we do – the SMBP Student App is available for registered students to download via the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.

Please note, the app is only available to access by students who have received confirmation of their place on SMBP WISE.

If you have any questions, queries or issues with the app, please contact info@smbp.org.uk.

How do I get involved? (students and schools)

The SMBP student eligibility criteria can be found by clicking this link.

SMBP have a direct application route for eligible students wishing to participate – details can be found on our Apply Now page. We also work with a number of other sourcing partners from schools to charities. We avoid competing for participants or reinventing the wheel by working with the following organisations to provide complimentary work experience and coaching to students on existing outreach programmes:

  • The Sutton Trust;
  • Law firms who have agreed to follow the PRIME model;
  • IntoUniversity; and
  • The Elephant Group

There are however some towns and cities which are not covered by these programmes; in these situations we look to partner with education focused bodies (e.g. New Schools Network and the Greater Manchester Combined Authority) to identify partner schools or create direct relationships with schools. Hence if you think your school, town or city could benefit from access to a SMBP cluster please go to the contact tab on this website and get in touch.

How do I get involved and what is expected? (Companies and Professional Services firms)

We are always looking to expand the geographic reach of SMBP. All existing partners recognise the importance of identifying talent from up and down the UK irrespective of where they operate given their future employee base will not be solely sourced from the town or city in which their place of business is located.

SMBP is based around a local cluster delivery model with one organisation taking the lead (as Cluster Head – see below for an explanation of their responsibilities) in each city on a voluntary basis to keep costs to a minimum. A cluster consists of four commercial organisations and one sports club.

Each commercial organisation is asked to:

  • provide a day of immersive business game experience showcasing how law, finance and other business areas interact within an organisation. The day can be provided in partnership with a company’s external legal and/or financial professional advisors – indeed this has been a key feature of many of the clusters to date;
  • provide refreshments and lunch for the students; and
  • make a donation towards the student’s travel costs including the cost of return travel to the cluster town/city from their home and transport to the businesses and sports club they will visit during the Work Insight and Skills Week. The donation is calculated in accordance with the following scale and can be shared with an organisation’s external professional advisors:
200 + Employees: £500+
101-200 Employees: £300
51 – 100 Employees: £200
0 – 50 Employees: £100

The Monday of each week is provided by a local sports club using materials SMBP has commissioned from leading sports performance coach, Mark Soden (Cleartrack Performance) on the topic of resilience and goal achievement models. These materials have been validated by a child psychologist and are licensed to the club free of charge.

If you are interested in creating your own cluster in your city or town, please go to the contact page and get in touch.

What does a Cluster Head do and how are they supported?

A cluster is a group of businesses that come together in one area to deliver a SMBP WISE Week. The Cluster Head takes overall responsibility for project managing delivery of the week. They are supported by the SMBP team on a day to day basis.  

The Cluster Head will have access to a centrally recruited team of volunteers, responsible for individual key areas, to ensure smooth delivery of the SMBP Week. 

Cluster Heads are provided with a full Resource Pack including a Cluster Checklist and Timeline to support on managing a cluster and deliver the programme.  

This is a unique volunteer opportunity to gain access to a variety of diverse organisations, to use and enhance existing skills and knowledge and give your business access to a future talent pool. Please contact info@smbp.org.uk if you are interested in running a cluster. 

How did the SMBP come about?

SMBP is an evolution of the multi award winning Legal Social Mobility Partnership (“LSMP”).

LSMP stemmed from a successful joint work experience initiative run by ITV and Slaughter and May in 2013 and Barry Matthews’ (SMBP Founder) realisation that multiple in-house teams were also engaged with their panel firms on work experience that met the PRIME criteria.

Building on this successful pilot, a model for work insight and skills placements involving a week with different in-house legal teams and a professional sports club coupled with ongoing alumni support developed. Barry Matthews brought together Olswang, Arnold & Porter and Bird & Bird and client organisations Yahoo!, Microsoft and Viacom to create the model in 2014. Harlequins RUFC then agreed to come on board to provide a day of resilience training to students, and with that SMBP’s predecessor organisation, LSMP was born.

Summary of SMBP history and programme growth

From our humble beginnings in London, where we initially provided opportunities to 20 students, we have burgeoned into a nationwide force for change. Our collaborative efforts, bringing together over 180 commercial organisations, professional services firms, and professional sports teams, have been instrumental in our transformative impact on student lives.

As of 2023, we now offer over 650 student places across the entire United Kingdom. This expansion underscores the increasing recognition and endorsement of our mission by a diverse array of stakeholders.

Beyond the numbers, our growth speaks volumes about the efficacy of our collaborative model. The symbiotic relationship between commercial organisations, professional services firms, and professional sports teams, working in tandem with students, has created a dynamic ecosystem that fosters real, tangible opportunities.

What do students do during their SMBP WISE Week?

The groups of students from different schools come together to form a cluster and spend a day at four different businesses and a day at a professional sports club. Where the students spend time depends on the cluster they are in. For example, students in our Rugby & Coventry cluster may spend their week as follows: Day 1 at Leicester City FC (SMBP Resilience Day), Day 2 at BT, Day 3 at The Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC), Day 4 at DLA Piper, and Day 5 at Aviva Investors.

The week of work insight and skills training is designed to be as hands-on and immersive as possible; students are not merely brought in to watch other people working – but are set realistic tasks and challenges and also participate in workshops to develop their employability skills. These include written and oral communication, interviewing, influencing, presenting, resilience, negotiation and networking.

SMBP then provides virtual Career Mentoring; SMBP alumni can draw on the experience of business professionals, including those in legal and accountancy, for advice on their CVs, personal statements, interview skills, university applications, jobs applications, and career progression & promotions.

How is the impact of the programme being measured?

Students are surveyed before and after their placements to measure the impact of the programme on key competency indicators such as skills development, career aspirations, confidence and overall satisfaction with the programme.

As well as providing opportunities and guidance to students, the SMBP Alumni network is also used to keep in touch with students to inform them of employment opportunities and track their progress into university and the working world.

What do the participating organisations get out of it?

  • Access to diverse future talent pool.
  • A unique opportunity to collaborate with a diverse range of organisations for a collective purpose.
  • Chance for companies to engage with a social mobility focused work experience initiative which may not have been possible on their own previously due to limited funds or human resources.
  • Increase in senior buy-in to social purpose initiatives.
  • Skill development, team building and morale boost for host team.

What is the SMBP's Safeguarding Policy?

SMBP safeguards and promotes the welfare of children and young persons by ensuring there are adequate health and safety arrangements in place at participating organisations and best practice guidance with regard to safeguarding is followed. To this end:

  • all participating organisations are required to conduct a Health and Safety workplace risk assessment;
  • all SMBP Trustees and Student Sourcing Leads hold enhanced DBS Certificates;
  • SMBP volunteers who are the lead-chaperone for students on SMBP booked transportation will hold enhanced DBS certificates; and
  • SMBP Group Mentors are trained on the platform and sign SMBP’s Safeguarding Agreement before being given access to assist students. Group Mentors are not permitted to advise by phone, email, via real-time technologies nor to meet students in person; all activity takes place on the platform.

The full SMBP Safeguarding Policy can be found here.

Does the SMBP have any brand guidelines?

For those who require the use of the SMBP branding (e.g. participating partners), our brand guidelines can be viewed by clicking here.