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UK projects tackling social issues win Innovation in Politics Awards

The Innovation in Politics Awards honour the most creative and impactful political projects in Europe, centred around core themes of democracy, human rights and social cohesion. This year 389 projects were entered, with nine winners – one for each category of Community, Democracy, Digitalisation, Ecology, Economy, Education, Human Rights, and Quality of Life, with a special category this year for ‘Coping with Covid-19’.  The winners are chosen by a citizens’ jury of over 1000 people across Europe.

This year’s winners include:

ProxyAddress – winner, Human Rights category:

The scheme uses duplicated address data to connect those facing homelessness with support. Using data of over 270,000 long-term empty homes in the UK, it creates and provide consistent ‘proxy’ address details that can be used to access vital support services regardless of location or times moved. Each ProxyAddress is provided through the council, so it’s free to those who use it.

Using this system, individuals can apply for jobs, receive benefits, open a bank account, receive post, register with a doctor, and get NHS aftercare – all services that would otherwise be lost when they were needed most.

Chris Hildrey, Founder, ProxyAddress said:

I’m absolutely thrilled at the news that ProxyAddress has received the Innovation in Politics award for Human Rights. To be recognised by an institute on a mission to rebuild trust in politics is a real honour and I can only hope that ProxyAddress can help further this mission in its own way.

Oldham Thriving Communities – winner, Community category:

Social prescribing involves prescribing social activities and exercise, such as gardening, cookery, arts clubs and sports as a means to improve health and wellbeing, rather than relying on a medical route

Oldham’s residents have lower life expectancy than the England average. High levels of deprivation and associated health inequalities have a significant impact on health outcomes. Over £1m has been invested in social prescribing in the area, in a pioneering programme to improve the wellbeing of residents.

Five other UK projects made it to the final, all of which have made significant contributions to the fight against the worst effects Covid-19 in local communities. These finalists include:

Can Do Bristol: A platform which links volunteers, third-sector organisations, companies and local government to provide community support during the pandemic, leading to 4000 new volunteers in the city.

Works+:  Based in the rural Scottish Borders, this project works with disadvantaged and socially isolated unemployed young people aged between 16 and 24.. The scheme has an impressive success rate: over 90% of participants are in employment, training or further education within 10 weeks.

Haringey TogetherAn initiative that convened support. In a London borough where nearly 10,000 residents are identified as ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’. They delivered 20,000 food parcels, matched 100 pairs of telephone friends and raised £300,000.

Anthony Painter, Chief Research & Impact Officer, the RSA, said:

In the midst of extremely difficult times for many, civil society has continued to innovate to meet some of the largest challenges we face today. This crisis has forced us to think creatively about how our services can be improved, and we’re hopeful that many of these lessons will be taken forward after the pandemic.