Mobilising communities for better health and wellbeing

Passionate about improving the health and wellbeing of people in your local area? We have an opportunity for you.

Nesta and the Behavioural Insights Team are working with the Cabinet Office to offer a unique opportunity to three local areas to explore effective and innovative ways of mobilising people and communities to improve health and wellbeing.

Social movements, behavioural insights and social networks are increasingly being recognised as approaches with the potential to improve health and care through and by people. NHS England’s Five Year Forward View reflected this, highlighting the need to collectively ‘shift power to patients and citizens’ and ‘strengthen communities’.

As we know, local communities are filled with energy, skills and generosity. How can these valuable assets be cultivated, supported and used to improve health and wellbeing? How can we create social movements in health?

What do we mean by social movements in health?

When we say social movements, what types of initiatives spring to mind? Perhaps the hospice movement, climate change or the ramblers. Social movements often start with a shared purpose, create a sense of belonging for joining members, build momentum, and ultimately, shift human behaviour through mechanisms of mass participation.

We think that social movements in health have significant potential across three areas:

  • Helping health care. Creating clear routes for local citizens to help improve their local health and care services. This includes enabling people to volunteer in local services in ways that demonstrably add value. It also includes creating ways for communities to co-design and co-deliver services with health and care professionals.
  • Helping one another. Creating opportunities for people to support one another to improve health and wellbeing. This includes creating peer-to-peer networks that give emotional and practical support and which improve self-care. It also includes street and neighbourhood level community action that can, for example, enable citizens to support their older, isolated neighbours.
  • Helping ourselves. Enabling people to better manage their own health and wellbeing. This includes applying behavioural insights to enable people to achieve sustainable self-management and increasing the uptake of social prescribing interventions. It may also include working with the health and care workforce to improve their health and wellbeing.

Nesta and the Behavioural Insights Team are looking for three local sites to support in their quest for greater impact, influence, and growth. Please read on if this sounds meaningful to you! 

Why get involved?

Participating sites will receive high-quality support from Nesta and the Behavioural Insights Team to enhance their work, learn from other experienced sites across the country, showcase their work on a national programme and potentially influence the national agenda.

Specifically, Nesta and BIT will work with sites to understand local needs and assets and assemble a local coalition, and co-produce an ambitious but achievable plan to build and embed social movements locally, including a unique Behavioural Insight Framework. 

Each site will need to commit to working with us between now and summer 2016.

How can you apply?

We are looking for organisations or partnerships based in England, who are passionate about their work and eager to grow their impact.

If this is you, we’d like to hear from you.

If you are interested in this opportunity, please read the more detailed background information and our FAQs, and if your organisation is eligible, submit an expression of interest.

The closing date for expressions of interest is midday Wednesday 9 March 2016 - don’t miss out!


Annie Finnis

Annie Finnis

Annie Finnis

Director of Operations and Impact, Health Lab

Annie was Director of Operations and Impact in the Health Lab at Nesta.

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Isabelle Andresen

Isabelle is an Advisor at the Behavioural Insights Team working on local and devolved government. Prior to joining the team, she was a government social researcher in the Department of…