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Nesta launches £15,000 prize for innovative social programmes to increase their impact

Innovation foundation Nesta has launched a £15,000 prize for practitioners running innovative ‘good help’ programmes which have the potential to transform public services across the country.

The Good Help Award (1) will recognise teams or organisations that are taking a creative approach to helping people manage and overcome a range of issues - from long-term health conditions and homelessness to unemployment and special educational needs.

Shortlisted entrants will be judged after a workshop with Nesta and leaders in the field on how they can increase their impact by developing their model, upscaling in their local area or sharing their approach with other organisations nationwide.

A Good Help Award of £15,000 and two further prizes of £5,000 each will be awarded to three organisations who can demonstrate the most potential for increasing their impact, to be spent on developing their approach.

The Good Help Awards follow research by Nesta and Osca (a social impact hub) into social programmes and public services that offer effective help (2). The report Good and bad help: How purpose and confidence transform lives found that organisations who helped people to make long-term changes focused on increasing people’s sense of purpose and confidence, so they were motivated and supported to take action.

In contrast, bad help involves practitioners attempting to fix specific issues ‘for’ people, without taking into account people’s motivation or wider circumstances.

Nesta and Osca will identify further examples of Good Help approaches which can inspire other social programmes and offer alternative ideas for how to run public services - and are calling for teams and services to enter the Awards.

Christina Cornwell, Director of Health Lab at Nesta says:

“It’s clear that we need to rethink how we are providing many of our public services. Services are set up to help people fix an immediate problem, but don’t enable people to make lasting changes to their lives. The result is that people end up trapped in cycles of dependency, where they need help again and again and services are put under more pressure.

“The Good Help Award aims to identify programmes that are helping people to move forward in the long term, increasing their quality of life, and potentially freeing up capacity to provide good help to more people.”

Rich Wilson, Director at Osca says:

“The Good Help awards will recognise those projects that are transforming lives by helping people renew their sense of purpose and confidence.

“Mainstream services too often lock people into cycles of dependency from which they find it very hard to get out. This has huge social and financial costs. This award is about recognising those projects which are tackling this through helping people live hopeful and confident lives.

“The Good Help award is about hope. Hope isn’t an abstract idea that is created by chance, it is a product of carefully crafted interventions that build purpose and confidence. Sadly too often purpose and confidence are eroded by mainstream services. That’s why we need an award to recognise the vital work people are doing across the country. Often in tough circumstances, having to go against the grain of service delivery culture.”
The Award is open to anyone offering ‘good help’ in the UK through an established project, programme or service.

The deadline for entries is 18 May, and the winners will be announced at the Good Help Awards celebration event on 13 September 2018.


Notes to editors

  1. The Good Help Awards will be judged by 11 professionals from Nesta, Osca and Good Help organisations, including NSPCC, Grapevine and May Day Trust.
  2. In February 2018, Nesta and Osca launched Good help: how purpose and confidence transform lives. This identifies the seven elements of Good Help which practitioners use to work with people with a range of problems:
  • Power sharing - rather than directing people to do things, sharing control over decisions
  • Enabling conversations - helping people to think through what’s important to them and why, and helping them come up with their own solutions
  • Tailoring - help people define their own purpose and goals, in the context of their personal circumstances
  • Scaffolding - supporting people to sustain change over time, by helping people to make first steps with support and further steps by themselves
  • Role modelling and peer support - helping people develop relationships which give them support and inspiration to make changes
  • Opportunity making - creating opportunities or removing barriers, such as brokering relationships or practical changes to free up time or address financial constraints
  • Transparency - giving people access to all relevant information in a timely way, such as test results.

About Nesta

Nesta is a global innovation foundation. We back new ideas to tackle the big challenges of our time, making use of our knowledge, networks, funding and skills. We work in partnership with others, including governments, businesses and charities. We are a UK charity that works all over the world, supported by a financial endowment. To find out more visit

Nesta is a registered charity in England and Wales 1144091 and Scotland SC042833.

About Osca

Osca is a social impact lab. We combine our knowledge of people, data and systems to help organisations increase their social impact. We do this through building partnerships with governments, businesses and charities. We are based in the UK but work across the world. To find out more visit

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