Transcript of episode 15 of our behavioural insights podcast – Nudges for Social Good – in which Katy Ellison and Carys Ward of Cheshire East Council discuss their behavioural insights trial which focused on improving men’s mental health during the COVID-19 lockdowns.
Rhian Gladman: Hello and welcome to the latest episode of the Nudges for Social Good podcast from the Local Government Association. My name is Rhian Gladman and I manage the Behavioural Insights Program here at the LGA and as you know our aim is to demystify behavioural insights and behaviour change and provide learning from practical projects that you can then try in your own council and in your own place. So, in today's episode we're going to share the work that Cheshire East have been doing to use behavioural insights tools and techniques to improves men's mental health locally. So, before we start the podcast, I just want to make you aware that this episode will contain content that some people may find upsetting, in particular references to mental health and to suicide. If you or someone you know is feeling emotionally distressed, organisations such as the Samaritans offer advice and support. So on with the podcast. It's great to have Katy and Carys with us here today, how are you both doing today?
Katy: Good thank you.
Carys: Yes, really good thanks.
Rhian Gladman: Excellent, excellent thanks for your time. Over to you really, would you like to introduce yourself and the role at the council please?
Katy: So, I'll go first. So, I'm Katy Ellison, I'm Commissioning Manager based at Cheshire East council. I'm responsible for commissioning public health services currently and my previous role was based in the Communities Team at the council and I, kind of, had I guess the first interest in Behavioural Insights and brought on for the project and commissioned it.
Carys: And I'm Carys, I'm the Research Intelligence Officer. So, I sit within the Communities Team, and I joined, sort of, at the latter stage of this project and it was this project that sparked my role, so yes.
Rhian Gladman: Excellent stuff, excellent stuff. So really to, sort of, get into the conversation, we always like to start at the beginning here in these episodes, so what was the behavioural challenge that you were looking to tackle locally?
Katy: Initially, so we kind of, the beginning of our journey, I guess, starts probably around the beginning of the pandemic. So being on the Communities Team, we were on the frontline of everything really in terms of impact of pandemic. So, Boris told us all to stay at home, we had lots of vulnerable people in our communities who were unable to source food, to get prescriptions and we equally had a lot of people in our communities that were willing to help. So we spent a lot of time setting up a service that again was on the frontline which matched those people that needed help with the people that were offering help and that was the backbone of our response to the direct impacts of COVID from the local authority perspective and during that time we were speaking a lot to people and there were a lot of distressed people that we were speaking to who were vulnerable, who were stuck at home and we were starting to notice dips in mental health. It's no shock to anybody I think during the pandemic that that's, kind of, how everybody felt and we were starting to notice anecdotally that men were feeling the impact of that isolation.
There was a lot of worklessness, my husband included who lost his job through the pandemic and it was that feeling of provider and being unable to provide for your family as a male. It was coming up time and time again and locally our statistics were showing us that there was an increase in male suicide. And around that time, the opportunity came up for us to apply for some funding from the LGA to run a behavioural insights project. To be honest, it was a search that I did to try and take my mind off COVID I think, to look at what else was going on in the world, but the LGA funding came up. So, I put an application in to look at how we help men particularly to access services early to stop them being on that trajectory of, 'I'm fine, I'm fine, I'm fine. I'm really not fine,' and we were particularly interested in looking at how we encourage men, how we increase take-up of early intervention and prevention services. So that's, kind of, how our journey began.
Rhian Gladman: So, it's really back within COVID, in the midst of lockdown.
Rhian Gladman: Looking obviously, you know, seeing the stats locally, worrying stats locally and then really as an early prevention upstream, how do we encourage men, the behaviour we want really to tackle how to encourage men to take up preventative services earlier on. So, in a nutshell that's, sort of, where you're at. So, once you'd identified that behaviour, what came next?
Katy: Well, we put the application into the LGA fund, we were successful in our application and then we began our journey of sourcing a provider, so a collaborative partner to do the piece of research. So, we were interested in speaking to people and digging a lot deeper and understanding, kind of, the drivers and the motivators behind their behaviour. So, we went through normal procurement processes, and we ended up partnering with an organisation called ICE Creates who are local to us. So, they're based on the Wirral, and it was the beginning of an amazing partnership really and ICE straight away understood the piece of work that we wanted to do, they understood the sensitivities around it and as you said at the beginning Rhian, you know, it is triggering. It's a difficult subject to discuss, especially in, kind of, group A settings. So, they understood that, and they were sensitive to everything really, but the first port of call from our project was around gathering those insights. So having those workshops, talking to people, and understanding what men's mental health is like right now, what services are out there and actually what services do we need. So, in an ideal world, what services would you have to address men's mental health and I guess I went into it with an assumption that there either weren't enough services, or the services were inaccessible. Both of those assumptions were proved wrong during the insight gathering phase, because actually what we found having spoken to a lot of men was that the services are there, they're accessible should you need them, services can always be improved but they are there in our community. It's the fact that men don't look in on themselves enough, they're not self analysing. They're not looking at themselves and thinking, 'how am I feeling today? Am I okay? Do I need to go and talk to somebody?', they are just on this trajectory of, 'I'm fine, I'm fine, I'm fine', and so that's why we decided to focus on upstream, encouraging men to be more introspective. To more look at their own wellbeing.
Rhian Gladman: That's, that's really interesting around the sort of, service provider assumption there and you do go into these challenges with assumptions, professional or otherwise and I just think that's a really interesting early piece of learning, isn't it? That the assumption actually would...
Katy: And it changed the course of our entire project. So had we not have done that really, really deep dive insights phase, we would have probably been looking at something completely wrong.
Carys: Yes, and it's also made us, kind of, question how we do things even outside of this project. So, it's had, kind of, a knock-on effect for us to really reflect on how we do projects generally to get the right outcome and the best outcome that we can.
Rhian Gladman: Can I take you back, you talked there about obviously difficult subject to get people to open up about, can you take me back to those workshops? How did you get local men along to those workshops? Who were you talking to? How were those workshops run? Can you give me a bit more detail about that insights gathering phase, for other councils looking to do something similar?
Katy: I'll be honest the early workshops, because I sat in the Communities Team we have a massive voluntary community-faced social enterprising infrastructure in Cheshire East, we're really, really lucky. We have a number of partnerships across the borough who work together to address and identify issues and we used our networks and our partnerships, we put the offer out there and said-, we weren't specific around male suicide, we put the offer out there and said, 'we want to talk to you about men's mental health'. We weren't specific about inviting men, we just said, 'we want to speak to professionals, people with lived experience, anybody that wants to talk to us about men's mental health and we, kind of, we got a broad representation. We had, kind of, stakeholders from the council there from our Public Health Team, we had our health colleagues who were on the acute end of the spectrum, we had voluntary sector organisations who were there, we had actually colleagues internally who were men who have lived experience of mental health. So, we had a wide range of people on those stakeholder groups and having the benefit of that partnership infrastructure (TC 00:10:00) to be able to get the word out there and say this is what we're doing, yes really benefited us at the time.
Rhian Gladman: So, you'd run the workshops, you'd challenged that assumption, you've done that deep dive which has changed the course of the project. What was the intervention that you decided on and how did you design that?
Katy: Well, first of all we started with our-, well I say we, it's the royal we, our delivery partner ICE Creates did it, but they did some focus interviews with men. So, they asked for men to sign up individually to talk around mental health issues and they used the insight that they gathered to create a number of visual assets and those visual assets were created to encourage men to look in on their own mental health and wellbeing. So, the assets were co-created over a number of different sessions with the men to tweak them, so that they were speaking directly to men. So, using those assets, we ran a randomised control trial. So, we had a treatment group of men who had signed up to a wellbeing trial, they weren't told at the time that it was identifying mental health issues. They signed up to a wellbeing trial, a six-week wellbeing trial. The treatment group were sent the assets on a regular basis via WhatsApp encouraging them to think about how they're doing, how they're feeling. The control group were sent nothing and then we had at the end, we were able to compare. I'll let Carys, kind of, pick up.
Carys: Yes, so there were two scales that we used to measure, you know, from start to finish. So, we had scores taken at the start and scores taken at the end and then we can compare both between the start and the end and also between the groups for any fellow science-y, nerdy people out there, we did a mixed ANOVA.
Rhian Gladman: There'll be lots listening.
Carys: So, the two scales that we used, we used the WEMWBS scale which is the Warwick and Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale. It's a fourteen-item scale measuring on the scale from one to seven from not at all to all of the time and you rate in terms of each of the various statements and we also used the five ways to wellbeing which isn't necessarily a scale in itself, but it is a concept that's been heavily utilised in the kind of, wellbeing sphere. It's a five item, or five category scale that you can use and it's again one to seven based on the frequency of actions. So, one of them for example is, 'how often do you socially meet with friends, relatives, work colleagues.' So, we wanted to use both of them, because it's quite interesting I think to get a bit more robustness in terms of that evaluation and what we found is we got statistical significance for WEMWBS both from start to finish.
So, our intervention group were got significantly higher scores at the end in terms of wellbeing, so the higher the score the better and also there was a statistical significance again between the control group, which is great. It shows that actually the kind of digital assets that we used were seemingly having a positive impact, which was great. On the five ways to wellbeing this one was slightly more interesting. We found that there was this statistical significance for the intervention group from start to finish, but there was no difference between the groups and when you look at the data, the control group scored originally slightly higher but then had a slight decline and we can speculate for days in terms of why that might have been the case, but it's interesting in comparison but equally still interesting that that intervention group still had a statistically significant increase. So yes, so that's the stats-y, science-y bit of it all, but from our perspective we were delighted that it seemingly was having a positive impact for those and also in conjunction with the quantitative data we also got qualitative data back as well, where we heard actually what were the experiences of the people on the program and as much as I love the stats, actually hearing that the men that had taken part were making and had made life changes as a result of the six week wellbeing challenge that was a real positive, because actually it's not just numbers at the end of the day.
It's people making, you know, one person decided that the shift patterns that they were working just weren't working for them and actually were taking away in terms of their mental health, so they changed their shift pattern that they worked which is a huge positive in terms of that realisation and then taking action, because I think that's the really important bit and a lot of the qualitative feedback was promising, when we look at a longer term behaviour change and from that perspective. So yes, all round we were pretty happy with it.
Rhian Gladman: Some results, excellent results. Just jumping back to with obviously an RCT, randomised control trial, a lot of councils say that they can struggle to get the numbers on to the trial to make it statistically significant as you say this one was, so how did you go about recruiting people to the trials to ensure that you had enough people to run your RCT?
Carys: So, we pushed it out to as many channels as we possibly could communication-wise. ICE Creates were fantastic again at helping with that and trying to get a really broad, broad reach, because that was also really important to us that we got a good representation from, you know, I mean we've got rural and semi-rural areas and then more urban areas, so it was good to get as much of a split as possible across a variety of demographics, but yes, I mean they were fantastic. I know Katy mentioned it at the start, but they really were a partner to us. They really felt, you know, invested in it, and really supported us along the way, but getting the word out there was key.
Katy: Yes, and again we used our, kind of, our infrastructure of partnerships to be able to do that, but I think we had just over 300 men apply to be part of the trial, where we only needed just over 100 and I'm sure the £30 Amazon voucher wasn't the reason for that, and because we had such a big pool, we were able to selectively sample. So, we were able to pull men from different demographics, different areas of the borough and from different ages and different walks of life, so it gave us a real opportunity to reach everybody.
Rhian Gladman: So, I guess it was through a combination of council communication channels, your partners, your stakeholders. Katy said this worked within, you know, you sit within the Communities Team of the council so you're using all of those connections into the community. Am I right, I might have made this up because I know we've talked about this project a while ago, it's been a while ago, something to do with local boxing gyms? Your guys from the Community Team were going out? Tell me more about that please.
Katy: Yes, we wanted to get to the-, a key thing around our roles in Communities is we want to hear from the people that we don't normally hear from. So, we went everywhere, we went to speak to people and like you say in football clubs, boxing gyms, coffee shops and that, kind of, stuff and anywhere that we could engage we went and just offered that opportunity and opened up those lines of communication and actually, from a council perspective, I think the whole process has changed the way we engage with people if I'm honest. So from a, you know, councils have a statutory responsibility to consult in certain areas, what we did and what we do better now I think is engage and they're two very different things and we talk to people and we understand people and we let them talk to us, we gather intelligence and I think our approach to engagement has changed through this and it was the catalyst I would say to changing that.
Rhian Gladman: And I think you talked earlier obviously about that assumption, and you talked as well Carys about how this has changed how you run other projects, so you've obviously run a successful RCT to improve men's mental health, you've got statistically significant results and you've challenged some assumptions. Can you say a bit more about what next? Like how is this project going to continue beyond the life of obviously running that RCT and then what else across the council is changing as a result?
Carys: Yes, so in terms of the project itself it's really twofold that we're looking at it both externally and internally. So externally we have a suicide prevention network that’s called Champs which is across the kind of, Cheshire-Merseyside region. So, it's been great, because we've been able to feed into that and, you know, we're quite excited at that opportunity to really have an impact again on that level and through the LGA as well sharing the word out there in terms of what we've been able to achieve in the project and how we approached it again has been a fantastic experience and hopefully adding value right across the UK. But internally we're also looking, because as much as (TC 00:20:00) we can say, 'this is great', it's also important that we reflect on actually, you know, what can we do internally and look really close to home. So that's something that we're exploring at the moment particularly as we're going into the winter period, how we can support the people that work directly within Cheshire East as well. So, from a project point of view, you know, it means linking back in with our VCFSE sector and building close relationships with mental health charities.
There's a great mental health charity called Men's Health that provide a lot of support within our area which is great. So from that perspective I find it quite exciting, I think it's something that's going to remain an important topic I think we need to keep talking about it and keep banging the drum and just keep it moving and, kind of, don't stop, but there's a lot of people that are behind us as well which is fantastic and as cheesy as it sounds, we can only do it if we all do it together. Then in terms of the approach itself, I mean, as I mentioned at the start, my role came about as a direct result of this project to really bring more behavioural insights to the work that we do through communities, but also further afield as well and from that perspective, you know, we are on a bit of a changed trajectory where we're looking at actually well how can we do engagement when it might not be required by default, but actually it's going to be beneficial because it's helping us in line with the leadership quote firstly to understand then to be understood. So, you know, the opportunities for actually really addressing the crooks of the issues and addressing the key gaps that exist is just huge, I really don't think it can be underestimated.
Katy: I think that from my perspective, so since this piece of work happened which is what, a couple of years ago, I've recently moved into a new role within commissioning, so I now work in public health commissioning and part of my role is commissioning the mental health service. So, the learning I guess from this piece of work, and I can't emphasise enough how much this piece of work and working, the partnership with ICE Creates and LGA has changed the way I personally do my job in terms of that insight phase. I think when I mentioned at the beginning that my assumption during the insight phase was proved wrong, I think that's quite a bold thing to say especially as a commissioner, you know, I was wrong, but it shows me how important it is to do that insight properly and to do the engagement properly and to do the intelligence gathering properly and at the beginning of a commissioning cycle, from a people perspective, we start off by saying what is the question? What are we trying to solve?
And actually, if you look at this piece of work that we did around male's mental health, the question with wrong and from my perspective as a commissioner I want to make sure that once I get to the development of service point of my commissioning cycle that I've got the question right and only by gathering the insight thought the intelligence gathering and the effective engagement will I get that question right. So, you know, and I think since we started on our behavioural insights journey, we've taken that approach to a number of different projects. We've recently commissioned a project around COVID recovery which Carys is managing and there's loads of different projects that we've got across the whole of the council, because we're keen that it doesn't just sit within our silo of people. There are two other directorates out that we want to, kind of, embed the loss of (mw 23.48) into, that Carys is doing an amazing job of squeezing it in anywhere and into any conversation we can do.
Carys: It's true, it's very true.
Rhian Gladman: Yes so many of council services are related to human behaviour, therefore the potential opportunities across the council, the 8-900 services we run it's limitless isn't it really and I guess what I'm hearing you say is doing that deep dive, really understanding the power and understanding the barrier that was stopping a behaviour or, you know, what is really behind driving a certain behaviour that may be a negative behaviour locally has been the lightbulb moment really on this?
Carys: Yes, absolutely. Definitely.
Rhian Gladman: And now it's how can you start to roll it into different parts of the council and partners etc. etc. I guess have you got any advice for councils listening? Again, you know, there's lots of services, we want more people to take up our services to have better outcomes in the local community, which is sort of where you were coming from. Maybe there are some more services we need, you know, that's the starting point. Other councils that are, sort of, in that headspace is there any advice, any learning you would offer them? It might not be around male mental health, it might not be around mental health at all, but is there anything that you would want to share to those listening?
Carys: I think from my perspective the crucial part is that insight gathering, intelligence gathering, what I've just said, you know, talking to people. Talking to the people that don't normally get a voice. So, using the networks, using opportunities such as joining whatever social groups is happening in the community, to be really informal, to be approachable, to listen and to understand people, understand what they're telling you and they'll tell you a lot. They like to talk to you, but actually to understand the key things of what they're telling you and then bring that back and start analysing it and start challenging your own thinking. Certainly, as a commissioner, challenge my thinking and say, 'what do I now know?' I think that would be my key thing.
Katy: Yes, I'd mirror that in terms of starting off with a blank sheet of paper, because you don't know what you don't know and it's a great opportunity to go out and find out what it is so, but I also think to add to that, involving the right people and having the right expertise. So, we were really lucky in this project with ICE Creates, they are absolutely fantastic and worked with us so much as a partnership and I think it gives you that boost to really go for it, because from a behavioural insights or behavioural science there's a lot of terms that mirror the same thing. But don't just dip your toe in it, just go for it, because the evidence out there whether it's on the LGA website or on your own search terms, the evidence I huge. There is so much out there that just backs it, because it's almost back to basics back to psychology, back to human behaviour and actually if you involve and empower people it really does make the key difference.
Rhian Gladman: Great plug for the LGA website Carys, love that.
Carys: You're welcome.
Rhian Gladman: Just to say, the assets you were talking about, the visuals are fantastic, you know, they are really good, really engaging and we are going to share those on the LGA website, so we'll get those up, and you're happy for other councils to steal shamelessly?
Carys: 100% yes, we want them used. So, we've flooded them out into our partners and our networks and said, 'use them please', because I think the assets went through probably about twelve different iterations, testing, things like colours, images and words used on them. So yes, we're really keen that they are used.
Rhian Gladman: And the aim of those really is all around that encouraging men to, sort of, have that earlier check, check-in of how they're feeling, how they're doing and you're still using those yourselves on all of your comms and on the website?
Katy: Yes, yes.
Carys: Yes, and it's just that it does come down to that introspection piece, because one of our participants we were lucky enough to have a bit of a catch up with one of them, he basically gave us his-, well told us how he felt about the whole process. It was a really, really positive discussion and he said, 'you know there's this pressure on men generally, particularly in rural settings he mentioned, but there's having that stiff upper lift where you just have to carry on and it, kind of, makes you numb to how you feel and your own emotions and things like that', so he mentioned actually taking that time just to reflect and then do things that you actually enjoy and bring the best out of you, it's just absolutely the key for keeping positive wellbeing.
Rhian Gladman: Yes, that's really powerful isn't it and you talked about some of the practical actions that some of the participants in the trial were taking, are there any others that really jumped out at you?
Carys: Oh, there were loads. People taking up daily puzzles, it didn't have to be big things and I think that was the key and again what the participant that we spoke to directly, kind of, shared with us that it's just that snippet of time, it does not have to be this big, I think when people think of wellbeing they think where am I going to pull that extra hour out of the day? You know, we've got enough pressures on as it is, but actually taking those little and micro things that really make you feel good whether it's a puzzle, listening to music, spending time with your pet, your dog, or going for a walk with someone or on your own, or going running. Just all of these things that again, it depends on the person there is no one size fits all, but there was just such a variety in responses.
One individual decided that, because he usually went to, sort of, the big football games but couldn't for a variety of reasons, decided to go to a local game with his son and said that that's something that he's going to keep doing because he found so much joy in it and I think it just comes down to that assessing what's going to work for you as an individual and doing it and supporting your wellbeing through that. Again, it's why, you know, on our assets it doesn't say mental wellbeing spread all over it because right at the very beginning that's what people were telling us, is that term just doesn't resonate. It's not something that is meaningful for that group, so it's really important. I think language is a big one, particularly when it comes to behavioural science and insights, is a key one to get right.
Rhian Gladman: Sorry Katy, I thought you were going to come in there.
Katy: No, no, no.
Rhian Gladman: No probs, didn't want to talk across you.
Katy: No, I completely agree.
Rhian Gladman: So I guess there's those things there around, you know, physical activity, there's joy, there's connection, spending time with loved ones and as you're saying not a huge great thing and I think at a time when mental health services are under extreme pressure, there's huge demand, this project shows another way, another resource that people can tap into and a different way of looking at it from a preventative, upstream approach and yes really interesting what you found about the language and not talking about mental health. Did that come out quite early on?
Katy: Yes, right at the very beginning, right at the very beginning. We had, and hopefully maybe you could share on the website, but during the stakeholder workshop we had visual minutes. So there was a colleague on there who was basically, sort of, showing the minutes of the meeting in picture format and it was a really, really good visual representation of the conversation, but slap bang in the middle it says mental health and a massive cross through it, because that was the thing that came out so, so strongly is that the term mental health does not, like Carys says, does not resonate at all because mental health is something that happens to somebody else. It doesn't affect me and that's what the men told us from the offset. So that's why we made sure and again, the participants of the whole study were involved in the co-creation of the assets. So again, they wanted to ensure that they weren't just for addressing mental health, they were for wellbeing and making yourself feel a bit better about general life. There was no mention of mental health on those assets at all.
Carys: Yes, and there's no tell either, it's just encouraging as opposed to coming from a place of tell.
Rhian Gladman: Perhaps you could say a bit more about that Carys?
Carys: So, in terms of-, because I think particularly and maybe this is my personal view, but when we're telling people to do things you kind of put pressure on people whereas actually in terms of, we can tell people go and run and speak to someone and all of this sort of stuff, but actually is that really going to get the behaviour change? Well, there is no one size fits all for wellbeing and actually the things that bring us joy, somebody might find doing a little puzzle or sudoku or whatever might bring them absolute joy and make them feel really good whereas for somebody else, it might just cause them more stress because that's just not for them. So as opposed to, kind of, being direct it's just more encouraging, that encouraging tone just to help get people thinking about what's right for them, because we can't tell them what's right for them, but all we can do is encourage.
Rhian Gladman: Back onto one of my favourite topics on this podcast, intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. So, if we are, you know, telling as you say you're relying on an external motivation which doesn't really last for very long all the studies show, whereas if you could appeal to what motivates people it motivates them intrinsically, they see what's in it for them and then it sustains the behaviour because they can see the purpose, the benefit for themselves. So yes, that's definitely a topic that's come up before on the podcast so thanks for letting me indulge that one again. Brilliant. Great stuff, great stuff.
So I guess we've talked about, you know, to recap the challenge that you had, how you did that deep dive into the research around the behavioural insight, what was driving the behaviour and you found out some really fundamental truths didn't you that challenged your thinking and changed your language and changed the focus of the project and it sounds like it's changed the focus of your directorate within the council as well. So, some really profound stuff there. You've ran the RTC, you've got to statistical significance with positive results within your trial and there is a clear way forward, both within the mental health topic but also in other COVID related projects as well that you're taking this forward in. So, I guess what I'd like to really pick your brains on is each of you, what are your top three tips for other councils who are looking to implement a similar project in their council?
Katy: I'll go first. One is just do it, don't overthink it and just do it. Second is I think as we've mentioned, our partnership with our initial provider was incredibly valuable and it wasn't, sort of, a provider-council relationship it was very much a partnership. They were very much-, they are, we still work with them now, so they very much were on board with our values as a council, our direction as a council and fundamentally they understood what we were trying to achieve all of the way along and they were prepared to be challenged as well, which was really interesting. I guess third top tip, follow your gut, I guess. Follow your gut and it probably links to the first one, but just do it. I suppose the top tip for me is get some quick wins and evidence where it works and evidence the benefit of using behavioural insights models and practices in everything that we do and getting some quick wins gives you the opportunity to then sell it, which is what Carys, and I are doing at the moment. So yes, just go for it.
Rhian Gladman: Yes, that just do it, that's interesting. Is that about, is that risk averseness? What's driving that? Is it because it's innovation and new and difficult? What drives that, sort of, (talking over each other 37.21)?
Katy: I think in Cheshire East we're really lucky because there was not reticence at all. We were encouraged from the start, we're encouraged as officers to be innovative, to do things differently and it was probably having the confidence for myself at the beginning to say, 'I don't even know what behavioural insights is', I Googled it. I had no idea, but we've come on a massive learning journey with thanks to the LGA wholeheartedly because I wouldn't be on it if it wasn't for you guys, but I think it's not something that is extra work, I think that is something that I would highlight. It's not a job, it underpins everything we do. It's, kind of, a way of thinking slightly differently and like I say, at Cheshire East we are always given the opportunity to think differently, and I embrace that.
Rhian Gladman: Yes, I like that it's not something on top, it is the job. It's the approach, try and understand what's driving behaviour locally and use behaviourally informed ways to drive improvement.
Rhian Gladman: Excellent. We've got three there, Carys over to you. Your top three learning tips for the councils listening please.
Carys: So, my three are first off, you don't have to have all of the answers, you just have to go and ask the question. I think you just never know what's going to come out of the woodwork and it really does help shape and build a relationship of trust and empowerment between us as an organisation, our VCFSE sector residents. The whole point of this project came about because it's, kind of, what we were hearing from our VCFSE sector that there was a problem and just delving deeper into that has proven to be a really beneficial thing, in terms of this project and hopefully the impact that it's having. I think the second point is, sort of, on the provider point, linking with a provider that's behavioural insights informed. So, ICE Creates are one of them, they're not just a research company, I mean, I'm doing research companies a discredit there, but they are behavioural science and behavioural insights informed, which is great because they know the models like the back of their hand, and they can draw on it actively.
So, you do feel like you are, again, working more in partnership with that organisation, so I think definitely having a BI informed provider if you're going to go down that route. I would also say, you know, look to grow the behavioural science and insights capability internally, whether that's capitalising on the current skills and people that you've got or actually saying, 'Do you know what? We need somebody with specific expertise to come in,' because perhaps that's what we're missing internally. I am biased because we've done that, but having been in this role now for a little bit of time, and just seeing it snowball from a blank sheet of paper that it's started at it's been, you know, a personal joy and professional joy from me personally. As a bonus fourth one, I'm going to say tap into a network. I think this one just pays dividends time and time again. A network, it might be, you know, there's health psychology networks which are fantastic, because health psychology is all around behaviour change and that's integrally linked to behavioural science and insights and there's some great networks out there to tap into, whether it's behavioural science, specific behavioural economics, there's so many different ways that you can go about it, but definitely tap into a network because you're not alone.
Rhian Gladman: Excellent stuff. Thank you both so much for your time this afternoon, and thank you as well, you know, on behalf of the LGA for the fantastic work you are doing on such an important area and councils across the country will be really interested in hearing more. So, thank you so much for your time and we'll have to have you back again when you've done some more projects.
Carys: Definitely. Definitely. It's been a pleasure.
Rhian Gladman: Thanks ladies. So once again if you or someone you know is feeling emotionally distressed, organisations such as Samaritans do offer advice and support and we encourage you to reach out for help with those organisations. Please do let us know if you have any suggestions for future speakers or topics that we could cover on the podcast. You can drop us an email at [email protected] with your ideas and feedback. As we mentioned, the report from Cheshire East and the visual assets as well are going to be on our website at www.local.gov.uk and then you can search for the behavioural insights page from there and we have a host of other Nudges for Social Good that you can learn from, and you can use. So please do share the podcast with your friends and colleagues and many thanks for listening.