About Nesta

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.

Mobilising Communities - developing solutions

We recently launched an open call for organisations or partnerships to work with Nesta and the Behavioral insights team to explore how a place-based approach to mobilising volunteers and community resources can help improve health outcome for people, improve health and care services and reduce pressure on public services.

Exploring social movements in health

After an initial short-listing process, the 10 most promising ideas were invited to join us for a workshop at Nesta so we could learn more about their aims for mobilising their communities.

We were joined by patients, representatives of charities and community organisations, local authorities, clinical commissioning groups and social enterprises brimming with ideas for improving health outcomes through people powered health. Proposals included:

  • using technology to engage volunteers to support isolated older people

  • creating an open innovation community to foster transformational change from within the community

  • using asset based community development approaches to improving the health and wellbeing of people with mental health problems and long term conditions.

Each of the sites were asked to pitch their ideas to each other to include details on their organisation and their vision for the future, how they plan to impact health and wellbeing and what their strategic approach and tangible ideas are to suit the Mobilising Communities programme.

Time was then spent in workshop sessions to look at exploring the following:

  • what do we mean by “social movements in health”?

  • to identify the activities the sites were currently doing/aware of in their area relating to helping health, helping others, helping themselves and to dig deeper into some of these activities to understand them more

  • to identify the relationships that the site already had in their area and how they connect to one another

  • to get ideas of how they could build on the work already being done in their areas and work towards achieving a social movement in health

  • to create a site ‘wishlist’ in relation to their strategic areas of development, growth of current work, connections they wish to form and capacities they wish to build

  • to give sites the opportunity to see what other areas are doing and their ideas coming out of the brainstorm.

The three chosen sites

After a lot of great outputs from the workshop we selected the following sites for the Mobilising Communities programme.

  • Bromley by Bow Centre: In Bromley-by-Bow, the Health Partnership is exploring developing community-based resources to complement their move towards a new model of primary care.

  • Horsham and Mid Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG):​ Horsham and mid-Sussex CCG is developing a plan to engage a range of stakeholders in initiatives that support people to effectively self-manage their long-term conditions.
  • Spice - Lancashire: In Lancashire the County Council and Spice plan to roll out their programme of time credits countywide through the newly commissioned wellbeing service.

Find out more on their aims on the Mobilising Communities webpage.


We were hugely impressed by the quality of work already going on in this space and the appetite for further engagement. An important aim for the workshop was not only to pick the final three sites we were going to work with but to give all attendees a useful exercise to start or continue with their own mobilising communities agenda and to connect with other sites in the same space to develop a network.

Nesta and BIT are now working closely with each of the sites over a three-month period to produce a costed and sustainable plan for their mobilising community vision supported by a Behavioral Insights framework.


Ruth Kern

Ruth Kern

Ruth Kern

Head of Delivery, People Power Results

Ruth was a Senior Programme Manager at Nesta working on the Mobilising Communities project.

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Annette Holman

Annette Holman

Annette Holman

Programme Manager, Government Innovation Team

Annette worked in the Government Innovation Team at Nesta focusing on social action priorities, specifically on the Connected Communites and Second Half Fund.

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