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People helping people: the future of public services

Public services should be redesigned to make mobilising the energy and contribution of the public a core organising principle.

Public services should be redesigned to make mobilising the energy and contribution of the public a core organising principle.

Key Findings

  • There is a long tradition of people helping people, but there is the potential for far more to be done by people alongside and within public services.
  • Public services could do more to be open and create opportunities for citizens to use their talents and capabilities to support each other through social action.
  • In England, the economic contribution of social action in and alongside public services is £34 billion

Rising demand and resource constraints makes redesigning public services imperative. There is a long tradition of people helping people in the UK, but there is the potential for far more to be done. What is needed are more open public services that have the mobilisation of people as their core organising principle.

There are compelling reasons for doing this: it would increase the resources available to achieve social goals; given public services access to new knowledge and expertise; reach people and places that public services cannot reach, lead to a fundamental change in the way we respond to social needs and challenges; and, create better services and reciprocal value for the people who give their time.

There is no blueprint, and it won’t be easy, but there are many examples where the challenges of redesigning public services to engage more fully with people have been successfully addressed.

With ten detailed case studies highlighting the opportunities and benefits of reshaping public services to mobilise people, the report argues that public services that are open, facilitating and recognise and reward the contribution of people will help public services to address changing demands and social needs, and improve experiences and outcomes for people.

Authors

Emma Clarence and Madeleine Gabriel

Authors

Madeleine Gabriel

Madeleine Gabriel

Madeleine Gabriel

Head of Inclusive Innovation

Madeleine Gabriel leads international projects that explore how new models of innovation can tackle big social challenges. Her current work includes a study on whether and how the co...

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Emma Clarence

Emma Clarence

Emma Clarence

Principal Researcher, Social Innovation

Emma was a Principal Researcher on Social Innovation in Nesta’s Policy and Research unit. She joined Nesta in April 2014 and worked on areas including the collaborative economy and s...

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