Government Innovation People Power
Evidence consistently shows the power of relationships, social connection and kindness to improve our wellbeing, and help us live healthier, happier lives. Over the last 10 years much of our work across Nesta has focused on calling for a more human, personal and connected society. We believe this should be an organising principle for government and public services.
In grant funding distributed since 2013
Innovations receiving non-financial support
What do we mean by Government Innovation People Power?
In the future, the best public services will be people powered – designed to be more open, where each interaction creates connections, deliberately works to enable creative and active citizenship, and brings together professionals and the time and talents of local people to change communities and lives. And importantly, this will not be for 10 people, or 100 with specific needs, but embedded across the system as simply the way in which we operate.
One way we have been working to support this change to happen is through backing and championing great examples of people powered solutions across the country that shift power structures, value relationships, combine the best approaches of working with citizens, public servants and other sectors including the Voluntary and Community Sector, to lead to better outcomes.
Across the world there is a growing movement of public services that galvanize active and creative citizenship. Whether we call it formal or informal volunteering, giving, social action, or simply 'people helping people', spending time helping others is a deeply ingrained part of our culture. From helping young people to succeed to supporting older people to age well, the impact of people power can be felt in every corner of our society.
Over the last 6 years, Nesta has carried out a wide array of work in this field to test and scale initiatives committed to bridging the gap. In partnership with the Office for Civil Society (now part of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport - DCMS) we have run a number of funds, including Innovation in Giving, the Centre for Social Action Innovation Fund, and more recent funds, such as the Second Half Fund, Early Years Social Action Fund, and Savers Support Fund, that seek to harness the power of social action alongside public services to transform the lives of beneficiaries.
Since commencing our work under the Centre for Social Action in 2013, we have invested over £23 million in grant funding and provided significant non-financial support to 110 innovations We are committed to capturing and disseminating learning and insights to share with other innovators, policy makers and commissioners, shaping practice and spreading the practice of people powered public services.
Our Funds & Projects: A Government Innovation People Power Timeline
September 2017 - now: Connected Communities Innovation Fund
- The Connected Communities Innovation Fund supports 16 innovations that mobilise many more people throughout the lifecourse, to support people and places to thrive, alongside public services.
- The ’Community Resilience in Emergencies’ priority area of the fund specifically focuses on innovations that mobilise the time and talents of people to enable communities to prepare for, respond to and recover from emergencies.
February 2017 - now: The Savers Support Fund
- The Savers Support Fund is scaling five social action programmes that improve money management skills and reduce debt for individuals and families in England.
February 2017 - now: The Early Years Social Action Fund
- The Early Years Social Action Fund is scaling five social action programmes that help children to achieve developmental milestones by directly supporting parents.
September 2016 - June 2018: Give More Get More Fund: Exploring intensive volunteering
- The Give More Get More Fund is supporting five organisations to develop and test intensive volunteering placements for people approaching or in retirement, that work alongside public services.
September 2016 - now: Click Connect Learn Fund: Volunteers as digital tutors
- The Click Connect Learn Fund is supporting three innovations that use digital technology to enable volunteers to tutor disadvantaged pupils, to improve their grades at school.
September 2016 - now: Second Half Fund: Sharing time and talents for life
- The Second Half Fund supports the growth of 13 innovations that mobilise the time and talents of people in the second half of their lives to help others, alongside public services.
April 2016 - now: Scaling and Sustaining Fund
- The Scaling and Sustaining Fund supports five grantees to further scale up their activities in new geographies.
April 2013 - March 2016: Centre for Social Action Innovation Fund (CSAIF)
- In partnership with the Cabinet Office, Nesta launched the Centre for Social Action Innovation Fund, supporting over 50 organisations across England to develop and grow the reach and impact of social action innovations mobilising people’s time, energy and talents to help each other, working alongside public services.
- The fund worked with innovations to explore six key priority areas:
- Helping older people to live well
- Helping people with long-term health conditions to live well
- Supporting young people to succeed and find employment
- Using “impact volunteering” to support and improve public services
- Helping unemployed people improve their skills and get back to work
- Using digital technology to get people involved in social action
- In total, we received more than 1,400 expressions of interest, investing £11.5m in grants and a further £3m in non-financial advice and support, including rigorous evaluation of the outcomes for the people helped by these innovations.