20 councils join pioneering network to tackle social problems ‘upstream’

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These councils are already leading the way in shifting culture and practice in local government, building new relationships with communities and citizens and reforming public services. The Upstream Collaborative provides a new space for leading councils to share ideas and best practice with each other and generate insight that Nesta will publish to grow the field and accelerate the movement for change.

Among the councils involved are:

  • Denbighshire County Council, who are taking a multi-agency approach to tackling entrenched and spreading deprivation in one of the most deprived areas of Wales.
  • Kirklees Council, who are trialling place-based approaches to minimise the need for social care and improve health and wellbeing.
  • Oxfordshire County Council, who are using street-level data to identify areas of high-inequality and work with residents to create targeted opportunities.
  • Staffordshire County Council, whose #DoingOurBit initiative is working to reduce pressure on local public services by connecting people to community solutions, and encouraging people to help themselves and each other.

The network is announced ahead of Nesta’s Government Innovation Summit, which will gather government innovators from around the country under the theme ‘Tools for today, ideas for tomorrow’. Nesta is working in partnership with Collaborate CIC on this initiative, drawing on Collaborate’s insights from working on the ground with pioneering councils, research on a new paradigm in public services and experience of forming effective collaborations.

Jenni Lloyd, Senior Programme Manager for Nesta, said:

“We have seen how councils and communities can be sources of creativity and innovation despite the challenging backdrop of austerity. The Upstream Collaborative will highlight, connect and support the game-changing work that local government is doing to recraft its role, with citizens at the heart. By collaborating with pioneering councils in this way we believe we can nurture a movement which will change how people think about what local government can achieve.”

Anna Randle, Chief Executive of Collaborate CIC said:

“We are excited about this opportunity to create a new space for learning and support in local government that we have believed is needed within the sector for some time. This is an opportunity to build our collective understanding of the future of local public services, as well as to support the pioneering places and people who are leading the change on the ground.”

Judith Greenhalgh from Denbighshire County Council, said:

“We’re just in the process of starting to implement a new approach to sustainable development by galvanising public sector collaboration and leadership, and – crucially – involving our communities. It’s a perfect time to embark on this journey with Nesta. We look forward to the mutual sharing of ideas, experience, and expert insight that the Upstream Collaborative project will bring.

Lucy Butler, Oxfordshire County Council’s Director for Children, Education and Families, said:

“Oxfordshire County Council and partners have been working on different ideas that will support our community and early help work, focusing on involving residents and collaborating across sectors. Relationships are so important in this work, both in our county and beyond. We are looking forward to joining a community of local authorities grappling with similar ideas and pioneering new initiatives"

Jill Greenfield, Head of Local Integrated Partnerships from Kirklees Council, said:

“We’re delighted to be part of the Upstream Collaborative. We’re creating new ways of working that puts people, not services, at its heart, by building on the strengths and knowledge of residents, communities and organisations to respond to their needs at the right time, in the right place and so enable them to lead their best life possible. Being part of this network will mean we can share our experiences and learn from other leading councils from across England and Wales”

Gill Heath, Cabinet Member for Communities at Staffordshire County Council, said:

“We are very pleased to be part of this exciting new opportunity to share learning and expertise across local government. We are all grappling with very similar demand and financial challenges, and this initiative is an invaluable way for us to really learn from each other, and drive forward local innovation to tackle issues that matter to our communities.”


Press contact - Will Hoyles, 07812 362714, [email protected]

Nesta_Press [email protected]

The twenty councils involved in the Upstream Collaborative are:

  • London Borough of Barking & Dagenham
  • Barnsley MBC
  • Cambridgeshire County Council
  • Denbighshire County Council
  • Derbyshire County Council
  • Gateshead City Council
  • Gloucester City Council
  • Huntingdonshire DC
  • Kirklees Council
  • Leeds City Council
  • Greater Manchester Combined Authority
  • London Borough of Newham
  • Oldham Council
  • Oxfordshire County Council
  • Preston City Council
  • Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council
  • London Borough of Redbridge
  • Staffordshire County Council
  • Surrey County Council
  • City of York Council