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
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.