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.

Whether we call it volunteering, social action or simply people helping people, we know that public services up and down the country are being transformed by using the skills and talents of the local community to augment public services.

Evidence suggests social action is changing lives. We don’t think this is a periphery activity, we think it’s at the heart of public service reform helping to improve outcomes and save money.

But what would public services look like if they were able to mobilise the latent talents and energy of the local community to solve problems? And what needs to happen to make the most of social action in the future?

The day included panel and plenary sessions in the main hall, a ‘meet the innovator’ showcase and 8 interactive workshops featuring entrepreneurs, national and international speakers:

  • Commissioning social action in practice: overcoming the risks and challenge
  • The most promising models for scaling social action
  • Why peer support is the future of healthcare
  • Transforming tutoring: how social action is helping children excel
  • Pathways from volunteering to work: what’s really working?
  • Evidencing the impact volunteers make on outcomes
  • A service year – the new gap year or retirement plan?
  • New models of community action

The event attracted a mixture of policy makers, public service managers, commissioners and innovators in charities and social enterprises.

View the speaker presentations

Anne-Marie Hamilton

Vicki Sellick

Bobby Duffy

Workshop 1: The most promising models for scaling social action

Workshop 2: Commissioning social action in practice

Workshop 3: New approaches to volunteering and employment

Workshop 4: Power in the Community - transformative models of community action

Workshop 5: Patient Power - learning about Peer-to-Peer healthcare

Workshop 6: Evidencing the impact of social action - making evidence practical

Workshop 7: Transforming tutoring and mentoring - how social action is helping children


Alex Fox

Chief Executive, Shared Lives Plus

Clare Sutcliffe

Co-founder, Code Club

Joanna Killian

Chief Executive of Essex County Council

David Knott

Head of Social Action, Office for Civil Society

Helen Stephenson

Director Office of Civil Society and Government Innovation Group, Cabinet Office

Charlie Leadbeater

Social entrepreneur and thinker

Charlotte Hill

Chief Executive, Step up to Serve

Bobby Duffy

Managing Director, Public Affairs, Ipsos MORI

Graham Daly

Head of Partnerships, Transport for London