A student-led advertising agency has been set up by the University of East London (UEL) offering free services to charities and small businesses.

Creative Wave will offer its expertise pro bono to local groups which otherwise would not be able to afford them.

In return, students will have the opportunity to gain real-world experience and bolster their portfolios with projects that have a measurable impact.

UEL’s BA (Hons) Advertising course lecturer Allan Taylor said: “We want to foster longer-lasting links in the Docklands area so that the community trusts UEL and UEL students, and the students feel like they are contributing and they are citizens of this area.”

Mr Taylor said conversations with local not-for-profit organisations convinced him they were experiencing a skill gap in areas such as advertising, marketing and promoting.

He will oversee the agency alongside Dr Eleni Kasapi, a senior lecturer on UEL’s advertising degree course.

The start-up costs of establishing a more formal agency are being paid for with a grant from UEL’s Civic Engagement Institute.

Ben Kippen, a first-year advertising student at UEL who designed the Creative Wave logo, said he was drawn to the project by both the prospect of gaining valuable design experience and a desire to “help the little guy”.

Ben said, “I’m from a small town. I know what businesses struggle with. To be able to come to a big city and home in on the little guy, it feels nice.”

Business owner Farooq Mohammed said he wanted to learn more about how Creative Wave could work with his company, Extended Services and Projects, which helps businesses compete for government contracts.

He said: “We’re open to using this new agency and testing it. I’m a great believer in new ideas and innovation, and there’s no better place than from university students.

“They will help us see ourselves, our brand, what we do, in completely different ways than how we see it. We need some external fresh, innovative ideas, and that’s what I think we’ll get here.”

Creative Wave is set to become part of the advertising course curriculum and the goal is for the agency to expand to include UEL students on other courses and to provide services throughout the University community and across London.

Mr Taylor said: “People usually see advertising as a big, bad thing and what I wanted to illustrate to the students was that they can use their skills to do something good for the community.”

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