Full report on Social Movements for Health published

The Social Movements for Health Programme was initiated and funded by Nesta and Dunhill Medical Trust in response to emerging evidence about the potential of social movements to create positive change in health and health and social care and extending this theme of ‘people powered health’. In particular, there was a desire to learn more about the forms of capacity-building, funding and support that can build social movements and enable them to bring about social change.

Defining social movements can be challenging: they have diverse visions, complex interconnected networks and widely varying methods to bring about change. They are, by nature, spontaneous and unpredictable, emerging from the bottom-up and represent the collective passion of people for change. This in itself presents a challenge for funders. One way to think about a social movement for health is when people;

Come together to promote or resist change in the experience of health or the systems that shape it. They unite people around a common vision and they grow networks to amplify their message and challenge society, institutions and elites to think and act differently. Often they bubble up outside formal institutions, but they can also come from within.


Health social movements seek to promote or resist change in the experience of health and the systems that shape it. Their impact on health and social care can take different forms:
• Bringing about changes in the experience and delivery of health care.
• Improving people’s experiences of disease, disability or illness.
• Promoting healthy lifestyles.
• Addressing socio-economic and political determinants of health.
• Democratising the production and dissemination of knowledge.
• Changing cultural and societal norms.
• Proposing new health innovation and policy-making processes’.

Seven groups were selected to be part of the programme, receiving funding and support over a 12-month period from April 2019-March 2020. Together, Nesta and the Dunhill Medical Trust wanted to learn more about the journeys that social movements go on and the ways that funding organisations can support them. We hoped that we could help emerging movements build momentum and find ways to support one another, as part of a growing number of ‘people-powered health’ movements. We published a paper on the funder perspective last month. You can now read the stories of the seven participating groups in the full report published by Nesta.