How we help each other matters. Good Help builds hope, agency and enables people to take control of their lives. Bad help is deactivating and dispiriting, at best creating dependencies and stopping people from fulfilling their potential, and at worst locking people into cycles of sickness, addiction, poverty and crime. When bad help affects the lives of millions of people, as we believe it does, the human and financial costs are huge. Our mission is to make Good Help the primary way we support one another.




In 2017, Nesta and Osca formed a partnership to explore the extent to which public services were supporting or undermining people’s ability to take control of their lives; what academics call self-efficacy. An initial project advisory group was established (see below) to oversee this work chaired by Julia Unwin CBE.

Through the research, over 100 interviews were conducted and a series of workshops were held with over 100 attendees.

Project Advisory Panel, 2017-19:
Julia Unwin CBE (Chair)
Adam Lent, Director, New Local Government Network
Anand Shukla, Chief Executive, Brightside Trust
Athol Halle, Chief Executive, The Trust for Developing Communities
Brendan Martin, Managing Director, Public World
Chris Wright, Chief Executive, Catch22
Conor Ryan, Director of Research and Communications, Sutton Trust
Cormac Russell, Managing Director, Nurture Development
Danny Kruger, Senior Fellow, Legatum Institute (formerly)
David Boyle, author
David Knott, Director, Office for Civil Society
Giles Gibbons, CEO, Good Business
Jane Mansour, learning and work specialist
Jennifer Wallace, Head of Policy, Carnegie
Kate Lorig, Professor of Medicine; Emerita, Stanford University
Kate Stanley, Director of Strategy, NSPCC (formerly)
Liz Richardson, Senior Lecturer in Politics, University of Manchester
Lorna Prescott, Senior Development Officer, Dudley CVS
Louise Mycroft, further education specialist
Penelope Gibbs, Director, Transform Justice
Richard Holmes, Head of Inclusive Community Building, Barnwood Trust (formerly)
Rosie Mockett, Portfolio Policy Manager, Big Lottery Fund (formerly)
Sam Freedman, Executive Director, Teach First (formerly)
Tiago Peixoto, Senior Public Sector Specialist, World Bank



Good and Bad Help report launched February 2018.

Formal government commitment to work with the Good Help Programme: The DCMS Civil Society Strategy published on 9 August 2018 made two commitments (page 37) to support the project:

“The government will work with Nesta, Osca and Big Lottery Fund on the Good Help programme, which aims to ensure that when people have contact with public services, this contact empowers them to take action and increase their sense of control over their lives”


“…the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport will explore where appropriate, ways of putting ‘self-efficacy’ at the heart of programme evaluation.”

Good Help award: A first prize of £15,000 and two runner-up prizes of £5,000 for exemplary Good Help practice were announced in September 2018. We received 317 applications and selected 19 finalists and 3 winners.

Nine events held to co-design Good Help Foundation: Events have been held in Exeter (CoLab Exeter), Sheffield (Good Things Foundation), Dudley (CoLab Dudley), Edinburgh (Carnegie) and London (NCVO [3 events], Nesta and BetterWay).



In August 2019 25 Local Authorities applied to become Good Help places.

We held place-based programme design workshops in Sutton, Liverpool, Sheffield and York.



We started working with local authorities to develop place-based Good Help programmes.

We initiated rapid research into Good Help and Covid-19, focussing specifically on schools, employment support, post-prison rehabilitation and digital Good Help.

In December 2020 we launched the new dedicated Good Help organisation.