User Power Can Deliver Significant Public Service Improvements

August 19, 2016

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The Enabling State in Practice report explores the challenges experienced by six innovative projects as they developed different models of working with people and communities to improve wellbeing. This has meant that power has been given to users and communities to deliver services and decide how they receive are run and managed. The recognition of the six organisations based in London, Wales, Birmingham, Sheffield, Durham and Worcestershire, comes following a UK wide competition to celebrate those who are doing the most to reshape services by putting citizens in the driving seat.

Jennifer Wallace, Head of Policy at Carnegie UK Trust and Chair of the Expert Panel overseeing the project said:

“Our innovators clearly show it is possible to deliver significant improvements by placing power in the hands of individuals and communities but that they often do so ‘on the margins’ of public services. The challenge is how to learn from their experiences to make it easier for projects like these to get up and off the ground and to reshape mainstream public services to be more open and empowering.”

The competition follows a three year research and development programme by the Carnegie UK Trust which explored how wellbeing could be improved by changing the relationship between citizens and local and central governments. Developments towards more a flexible Enabling State have been taking place across the UK and with support from citizens, public services and the community and voluntary sector.

The winners of the competition are:

  • Club Soda – A UK-wide support group which helps people to change their drinking habits, whether they want to cut down, stop for a bit, or quit. Its innovative approach enables it members to decide on the type of support they receive so that they have a programme specific to their needs.
  • Cartrefi Cymru – A care service in Brecon in rural Wales is a floating support care service for people with learing difficulties. They have moved away from set care plans to a new person-centered and flexible approach to care.
  • Envision Community Apprentice – A business and life skills programme for young people aged 16-18 in Birmingham. They work with 20 schools to challenge young people to identify problems or issues in their local community and come up with practical solutions to tackle them.
  • South Yorkshire Housing Association – A housing association for people in Sheffield which has created a new healthy eating project; Eat Well, to help educate and encourage its service users to make healthier choices.
  • Durham County Council – Their community asset transfer programme has seen the management of a community hub, Macrae House, taken on by members of the community. In just two years, the centre has gone from being used by just six people a week to 150.
  • Worcestershire Micro-enterprise Project – A support service for the elderly, those living with a disability, as well as those looking to start their own business, started out as a pilot two years ago. It now supports the entire county as a result of its support being so valued within the community.

To find out more about the Carnegie UK Trust’s work around the Enabling State, please visit:


For media enquiries, please contact Kirsty Anderson or Billy Partridge at Grayling on 0131 226 2363 or [email protected]


The Carnegie UK Trust

The Carnegie UK Trust was established in 1913 by Scots-American philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. It seeks to improve the lives and wellbeing of people throughout the UK and the Republic of Ireland through influencing public policy and demonstrating innovative practice.  To change minds, the Policy Team seeks to develop objective, evidence-based policy to improve lives. The Trust’s work is focused on a set of three themes: enterprise and society, knowledge and culture and people and place. To change lives, the Trust’s Practice work takes forward the initiatives generated by policy and research, either the Trust’s own research or that developed by others, and developing them into practical pilot projects to be undertaken in partnership with other organisations interested in working in the same areas.