Reimagining Help


Reimagining Help

2 years ago 2 years ago Published by
This toolkit was developed by Nesta, Macmillan Cancer Support, British Heart Foundation & UCL Centre for Behaviour Change.


Now more than ever, there is a need to help people live well in their homes and communities. The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the importance of diversifying sources of help beyond the hospital, and of drawing on support from friends, neighbours, local organizations, and charities to ensure people can live healthy lives. We must think more flexibly about what ‘help’ means, and how the right help can make a huge difference.

While medical care is fundamental to saving lives, people need more than a ‘fix’ to live well every day. If we are to support people to reach their goals, we must move away from ʻexpertsʼ holding the knowledge and power, and instead draw on people’s own knowledge, relationships, strengths, and purpose to determine solutions that work best for them.

We believe there is an opportunity to ‘reimagine help’ by applying insights from the field of behaviour change research to a wide range of organizations and places – community facilities, local charities and businesses, employment and housing support, as well as health and care services, all of which play a role in supporting people to reach their goals in a way that feels right for them. This is by no means a new idea, but previous policies and programs that have attempted to spread behavioural principles have struggled to get widespread adoption, because they’ve tended to focus narrowly on certain ‘problems’ (e.g. drinking, smoking, and diet) without taking into account the wider issues that affect people’s health and wellbeing. Furthermore, the knowledge and skills needed to apply behaviour change practices have been limited to practitioners in particular roles.

Collectively, we have produced a guide that outlines eight characteristics of Good Help, which aims to support practitioners, system leaders, and any person working in a direct ‘helping’ organization to understand the behaviour change evidence that underpins Good Help, and develop new ideas or adapt offers of Good Help, which can be tested out in their own organizations or local communities.

Flanagan, E., Hackett, T., Atkins, L., Chadwick, P., & Cornwell, C. (2020). Reimagining Help: An Evidenced-Based Approach to Helping People Reach Their Goals. Nesta.

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