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Nesta is an innovation foundation. For us, innovation means turning bold ideas into reality and changing lives for the better. We use our expertise, skills and funding in areas where there are big challenges facing society.

Good Help Award Winners Announced

Today, we are announcing the winners of the Good Help Award, an award which recognises organisations and projects that are helping people confidently take action to achieve their personal goals.

The Good Help Award was launched back in February when Nesta and Osca published Good and bad help: How purpose and confidence transforms lives. Our report drew on a significant body of research and good practice, but we wanted to identify more organisations, projects and people delivering ‘good help’, and find out how they are helping people build the confidence they need to take action and lead more fulfilled lives.

More than 300 organisations applied for the award, and we were overwhelmed by the quality and diversity of their applications. Organisations such as Cornerstone, which is transforming the social care system in Scotland; Kinship Care, which is supporting vulnerable children in Northern Ireland, and Spark Inside, which is tackling reoffending in England.

The applicants are addressing some of the most important social issues we face today, such as addiction, managing chronic health conditions, difficulties at school, social isolation, unemployment and bereavement. Despite often working in extremely tough conditions, they are transforming thousands of lives, demonstrating how our public services can and should be improved.

It was extremely difficult to create our initial shortlist, but we were delighted to invite 19 finalists to a full day exploration event at Nesta on 12 July 2018. We spent the day learning about the different - but very complementary - ways these pioneering organisations are helping people develop purpose and confidence to take action, and how they are improving their lives (see the seven characteristics we outlined in our report, and the first of our case studies).

Most of the finalists have peer workers and volunteers at the heart of their model. Indeed, many of them were set up by someone with experience of the challenges they’re helping to address, and some brought along someone who has or is directly benefiting, from their approach. It was humbling and inspiring to hear about their work and the impact they are having. Despite it being a competitive process, everyone was open and honest, ready to collaborate, share and have fun!

The judging panel had another difficult job to do, but in the end our decision was clear:

Blue Marble Training, London, part of the Shoreditch Trust, was selected as the overall winner. The judges were inspired to hear how they support young people facing many different challenges to be independent and to find work that is meaningful to them. They felt they demonstrated a real sense of community and peer support, whilst also providing pastoral support that is very much tailored to the individual’s needs, creating opportunities to help them improve their health and wellbeing. They build this support around a training programme that brings young people into a real, working kitchen to build cooking skills whilst being mentored by chefs to build their personal development. As the overall winner, they receive £15,000.

NHS Community Pain Service / Pain Clinic Plus, was selected as a joint runner up. This innovative approach combines clinical services with peer mentoring from 'expert patients' and peer support, including a volunteer-led wellbeing choir. Patients are encouraged to recognise their own strengths, feel hopeful and develop their confidence and self-efficacy. Providing a 'lifeline' for many, this inspires their belief that life can be lived well, despite pain. As a joint runner up, they receive £5,000.

The Membership team at Off the Record, Bristol, was selected as our other joint runner up. This project works with young people to help them develop their own strategies to address mental health issues, including through peer support and wellbeing activities. Young people trained as ‘peer navigators’ offer strength-based conversations, supporting peers to make informed choices, access and build on their resources; develop self-care plans and make decisions about how they care for their own mental health. As a joint runner up, they also receive £5,000.

On one matter, the judges were unanimous; that each and every one of the finalists deserved to be a winner. We were delighted to confirm that they would each receive £1,000.

We will be publishing case studies of all the finalists over the coming weeks.

Working with organisations across the UK, we are now seeking to support a community of ‘good help’ practitioners and supporters across the UK. The community intends to make the inspirational, but all too rare, practice demonstrated by the applicants become a part of mainstream services. If you’d like to find out more about ‘good help’ and join our community, please register your interest here.


Christina Cornwell

Christina Cornwell

Christina Cornwell

Interim Executive Director for Health

Christina led Nesta’s work helping to develop and grow innovations that create new relationships, networks and technologies that improve health and well being.

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