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.

Integrated Breathe Easy Groups by British Lung Foundation

The British Lung Foundation is transforming its peer support network of Breathe Easy Groups, integrating these groups into local health services to support people to self-manage their care.

Launched by the British Lung Foundation (BLF), Breathe Easy Groups offer advice and support for people with respiratory diseases (and their families and carers). This is already a well-established network, managed and led by volunteers, with around 16,000 members in 240 groups across the UK.

In 2011 BLF piloted a new model for Breathe Easy Groups with NHS Stoke on Trent, further developing the focus to support and train people to self-manage their own conditions, and integrating groups within local health services. The results were extremely positive, including increased referrals and members feeling more confident about the future.

BLF has been awarded £396,688 to scale the integrated approach and transform the model in a further 40 sites across England – reaching an estimated 2,600 people a year.

Find out more: www.blf.org.uk/Home

Peer Support by Diabetes UK

Diabetes UK is rolling out a new model of support for people with diabetes.

Diabetes affects eight per cent of the UK population and accounts for more than four per cent of NHS costs.

Addenbrookes Hospital recently carried out one of the largest ever randomised control trials (RCTs) of a peer support model for diabetes, which combined peer group sessions with input from specialist nurses and trained volunteers to support Diabetes patients to manage their conditions more effectively. The results were extremely promising, showing significant improvements in clinical outcomes – so much so that Diabetes UK, the UK’s largest charity for people with diabetes, wants to work with Addenbookes Hospital roll this model out nationally.

In March 2014, Diabetes UK was awarded £465,452 (including £77,000 for evaluation) to replicate this model in four new areas, helping more than 400 volunteers support more than 5,000 patients through peer support. The funding also included development work to support the charity to make the case to clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) to commission the service in their local areas. This will be matched by £198,000 from Diabetes UK and the partner CCGs.

In November 2014, following excellent initial performance, Diabetes UK was awarded a further £25,000 to increase the cohort size for the evaluation.

Find out more: www.diabetes.org.uk/


My Support Broker draws on the expertise of people with long-term conditions to help others lead better lives – taking control and planning their own care.

More and more people in the UK now have access to personal budgets, enabling them to choose how their health and care needs are met. However, some individuals find this choice overwhelming.

My Support Broker, a social enterprise, has developed an innovative and credible model to support people to plan and manage their own care. The organisation recruits and trains people with long-term conditions as ‘peer brokers’, who support others with similar care needs. Peer brokers are self-employed and advise people on a range of services spanning financial, practical and emotional support.

Early testing of the model suggests this approach not only gets better results for individuals but also reduces the cost of planning and care delivery when compared to professionally-led broker services. However, some people may not be ready to be self-employed so My Support Broker also offers volunteer peer coaches who work alongside paid brokers, providing informal, one-on-one support beyond the paid-for hours. For example, if someone lacks confidence to go to a support group, volunteers help encourage them or even go along with them.

My Support Broker has found that this integrated model with volunteer peers and peer coach support is highly in demand.

In February 2014, My Support Broker was awarded £293,000 (including £20,000 for evaluation) to develop the integrated volunteer model over an 18-month period across five sites. In November 2014 it was awarded a further £205,000 (including a further £15,000 for evaluation) to mobilise a total of 810 volunteers to support 1,500 people with long-term conditions to manage their conditions more effectively across 11-12 sites.

Find out more: www.mysupportbroker.com

Let's Get Moving by UK Active

UK Active is using volunteers to expand Let’s Get Moving – an innovative programme helping inactive people adopt more active lifestyles.

Let’s Get Moving enables GPs to refer patients to Community Exercise Professionals (such as gym instructors) for a 12 week-programme that helps them become more active and change unhealthy behaviours.

The core programme already has robust evidence to show it’s making a positive difference to helping people change their lives, and is endorsed by the Department of Health and National Institute of Clinical Excellence. UK Active now wants to strengthen the model further by using volunteers to help patients maintain their healthier lifestyles long after the core 12-week programme has finished.

With Let’s Get Moving currently running in three counties, UK Active has been awarded £99,801 to structure, test and develop new ways to use volunteers to help people remain active and healthy. Volunteers will be trained as programme ambassadors and support Community Exercise Professionals to run group activities, as well as creating local peer support networks to strengthen and sustain the programme.

Find out more: www.ukactive.com

Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council

Stockport Council is embarking on an ambitious programme to redesign its local care system – with social action at its core.

Stockport was a successful site in Nesta’s People Powered Health programme. This programme demonstrated the potential of mobilising communities to help deliver care. Building on this success, Stockport is now embarking on an ambitious programme to redesign its health and care system with social action at its core.

A volunteer workforce will work alongside care professionals integrated teams, together delivering a range of practical activities, including support to help people manage their own care and stay healthy; ‘social prescribing’ – using volunteers to set up and support community groups and activities, which GPs can prescribe alongside medical treatments; coaching and buddying, and much more.

Stockport MBC has been awarded £349,000 to design social action into the fabric of Stockport’s new integrated care system. This means ensuring the infrastructure needed to recruit and support volunteers at scale is in place.

We’re supporting several programmes using social action to help deliver care, but this is the only one being led ‘from the inside’ – from commissioning teams themselves. If successful, it has the potential to evolve the national debate on the way care systems are designed and delivered.

Find out more: www.mycaremychoice.org.uk

First Call, by British Red Cross

First Call is a 12-week, volunteer-led course of support to those recovering from a crisis such as hospital discharge or bereavement.

Many of those in later life are living with multiple health problems, high levels of frailty and with insufficient family or community support. This creates a huge need for care and support, which is not being met.

As part of the First Call scheme someone who has recently been bereaved meets a member of British Red Cross staff and is then matched with a volunteer. Over 12 weeks the volunteer provides or sources the help they need to regain their independence. The British Red Cross delivers great training and support to volunteers, who respond with exceptional levels of commitment, giving upwards of 1.5 days per week on average.

In October 2014, British Red Cross was awarded £388,721 (including £30,000 for evaluation) to roll out First Call in two further areas, Leicester City and Rutland, recruiting at least 60 volunteers for the service and providing support for 800 beneficiaries. Its long-term aim is to grow the service from three locations to 10 by 2020, and benefit thousands across the country.

Find out more at: www.redcross.org.uk/


Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) offers practical and emotional support for anyone affected by sight loss in the UK.

20,000 people are diagnosed with sight loss every year. Losing your primary way of perceiving the world has dramatic consequences for day to day life and wellbeing - at best a loss of independence, and at worst social isolation.

In September 2014, RNIB was awarded £190,571 (including £23,000 for evaluation) to develop peer-led, telephone-based education and support for individuals who have been newly diagnosed with sight loss.

These courses cover practical issues such eye health, rehab training and support, useful equipment and technology and how to find support and connect with others locally. The group also provides a valuable space for participants to come to terms with their sight loss by supporting one another.

RNIB predicts 1,000 people will sign up for these telephone courses and a further 5,000 newly diagnosed, blind or partially sighted people over the age of 70 will take up the offer of free membership which will include peer to peer tele-befriending services, support and advice from qualified counsellors and signposting to other services. In the future it hopes to offer this service to every person diagnosed with sight loss in the UK.

Find out more: www.rnib.org.uk/

Stroke Association

The Stroke Association is providing practical support for stroke patients through peers who know what it’s like to recover from a stroke.

Stroke is a physically and emotionally devastating condition for both the stroke survivor and their carer. Stroke survivors and their carers frequently experience depression, anxiety and relationship breakdown. There are few treatment options available, and poor support to adjust to a very different life.

Peers (people who have recovered from a stroke themselves) are well placed to give this support. They are the experts on the practical aspects of living with stroke, and the emotional process of coming to terms with the loss.

The Stroke Association has been developing its network of self-funded stroke groups so that they can deliver this high standard of support. They have started 100 new clubs in the last five years, but demand continues to exceed its resources.

In July 2014, The Stroke Association was awarded £236,065 (including £16,156 for evaluation) in order to create 80 new peer support groups, and upgrade over 100 existing groups to a higher standard of peer support. In total this will help 4,000 stroke patients and their families.

Find out more at: www.stroke.org.uk/

Carers UK

Carers UK is being supported by the Centre for Social Action Innovation Fund to establish a national Social Action programme to enable carers to support carers.

Carers UK has made a commitment to connect volunteers with carers as a way to improve the support for some of the 6.5 million people who look after someone who is older, disabled or seriously ill. This exciting programme enables those with lived experience of caring to connect to others, and provide valued practical and emotional support to each other to help carers better manage their caring role and avoid breakdown.

The programme brings together Carers UK’s existing portfolio of volunteer led carer support projects ranging from Carer Ambassadors; to online support and mentoring; into a single integrated programme. The integrated programme will allow volunteers to take up their roles in a more flexible way, including fitting around their caring responsibilities and once integrated the programme will be scaled at pace nationally to become one of Carers UK’s national flagship carer support programmes.

In September 2014 Carers UK was awarded £320,000 (including £70,000for evaluation) to do the work above and specifically to recruit and train an additional 500 volunteers, and more than doubling the scale of the existing projects.

Find out more at: www.carersuk.org