Citizen directed volunteering to a) improve "health" policy understanding of citizen assets and b) increase citizen appetite for active/healthy living & ageing
Through insight activity, we have found that citizens in Liverpool do not prioritise their health/wellbeing (but rather physical & financial safety). To engage citizens & improve their understanding of health/well-being, NHS Liverpool CCG worked with civil society partners, PSS and TUC Unionlearn. A team of 5 workers spoke to people (18 years+) in a range of settings e.g. shops, social, places of worship, sports clubs, workplaces etc. to promote the idea that being involved/active in one’s community will e.g. improve their physical/mental well-being, social connections and skills. The team offered citizens support to become more active by asking people what they were interested in doing and/or what they felt their community needed. Citizens who didn’t how to respond, were helped to find something they wanted to do within their community and/or introductions to other active citizens were made. Activity included e.g. walking groups, visiting lonely citizens, helping digitally excluded citizens get online. These “active citizens” and “digital champions” were then a) given training to keep them safe and offered education packages to e.g. improve literacy and numeracy, understand particular health conditions, mental health first aid b) asked to have 1 conversation a week about health and wellbeing with their family, friends and/or neighbours. Activity includes that provided by older citizens & that provided by younger people to support vulnerable/isolated older people

Resources needed

NHS Liverpool CCG contracted People Shaped Services and Trade Union Council Unionlearn c£120kpa to develop and operate this service. This paid for:
• staff team of 1 x coordinator and 4 workers
• room hire
• ICT equipment to support citizens get online
• education material/course enrolment

Evidence of success

Outputs: 679 active citizens & digital champions recruited, 50 digital hubs (physical spaces where people helped to get online) 7737 people advised about health/well-being services & products, 15853 people personally advised about digital products/services, 3717 people digitally included by coaching, training & support, 5970 people became involved in local community action & volunteering, 9109 people received support to produce well-being plan, 305 people supported to managed hypertension

Difficulties encountered

1. Developing business cases to support this activity becomes difficult as a) resources are increasingly focussed upon those with higher levels of health/care needs b) “health” impact is longer term and more difficult to evidence 2. Traditional forms of volunteering in UK are becoming less popular

Potential for learning or transfer

• The UK, like other European countries has a long tradition of citizen volunteering. In traditional volunteering models however, activity is organisation/community identified and driven. Active citizens and digital champion activity are citizen identified and driven.
• Encouraging active and healthy living, at scale requires new routes to engage with and activate citizens. This good practice offers model that is transferrable to both regions that have volunteers and those that do not.
• Active citizens and digital champion activity are flexible and personalised to citizens interest and community need
• Because the citizen is “in control” they can change the nature and/or level of input at any time (making it a more sustainable)
• This good practice offers a bottom up model of smart communication to improve health/wellbeing
• Active citizen and digital champion activity support citizens to self-serve/care by leveraging assets to address social determinants of health
Main institution
Liverpool City Region LEP
Merseyside, United Kingdom
Start Date
October 2012
End Date
April 2015


Paul Clitheroe Please login to contact the author.