Why are we doing this?
Whether we call it formal or informal volunteering, giving, social action or simply "people helping people" – spending some of your time in the service of others is a deeply ingrained part of our culture.
From school governors to special constables and first aid training there are lots of great examples, but there could be more. Most of our public services still operate on a paternalistic model where they do things to people not with them, and fail to engage with the capabilities, networks and resources that they don't directly control.
New models are emerging in the UK and internationally, from community networks supporting older people to live well, peer networks for people living with long term health conditions and young people helping their peers navigate job and training opportunities.
What are we doing?
As part of the Cabinet Office Centre for Social Action, Nesta is running a £14 million Innovation Fund.
We will provide financial and non-financial support to help grow the impact and reach of innovations that mobilise people's energy and talents to help each other, working alongside public services.
Our ambition is to:
- Find innovations that harness different types of social action to make a positive difference across a range of outcomes.
- Support the most promising innovations to have more impact, including building evidence of what works.
- Enable a small number of proven innovations to achieve impact at significant scale, by reaching and benefiting many more people.
The Innovation Fund is focusing on a small number of big social challenges, like helping older people to age well or supporting young people to get into work, where there is a plausible account of how social action can make a difference and is under-exploited by the existing approach of public services.
Our Current Priority – Using digital technology to get people involved in social action
We have now opened a call for proposals for a new priority – using digital technology to get people involved in social action – which closes on 31 July 2014.
Between April 2013 and March 2014, we invited proposals across five different themes:
- Helping older people to live well
- Helping people with long-term health conditions to live well
- Supporting young people to succeed and find employment
- Using “impact volunteering” to support and improve public services
- Helping unemployed people improve their skills and get back to work
Click on the links above to read about the projects we’re supporting across these five themes.
Alongside this, we’ve also launched two new programmes that focus specifically on harnessing social action in the following areas:
- Helping in Hospitals – a £1.5m initiative to back up to 15 hospitals to significantly expand the impact and reach of their volunteering services – to improve the hospital experience for patients and their families.
- Cities of Service UK – a programme to back seven UK cities to mobilise the talents and energy of volunteers to meet city-wide challenges, in partnership with Bloomberg Philanthropies.
Want to know more? You can get in touch at CSAinnovationfund@nesta.org.uk
Our current call for expressions of interest focuses on digital social action.