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Shared learning across NHS anchors to tackle health inequalities

How we created a brand strategy, website and communications plan for a new learning network for the NHS

The Health Foundation and NHS England and Improvement commissioned Innovation Unit to design and run a new learning network for ‘anchor’ organisations to help them tackle health inequalities. Working closely with the project leads from the three partners, we were brought on board to craft the overarching brand for the Health Anchors Learning Network, build the website and create and deliver comms to launch and beyond. 

Anchors are organisations which are based in one place, employ a significant amount of people and spend large budgets on estates and services. By rethinking recruitment and working practices, moving to ethical and green procurement, choosing net zero in daily activities and opening up their spaces for the community, anchors can help improve people’s health. 

The challenge was how to create and then promote the right space for anchors to share and learn from each other’s work. The learning network was championed by The Health Foundation (THF) and NHS England and Improvement (NHSE&I), who contracted Innovation Unit (IU) to design and deliver the offer, and worked with us to develop the name, website, brand positioning, member acquisition plan and ongoing communications. 

Working closely with IU on stakeholder mapping, engaging with THF and NHSE&I on audience motivations for joining a network, defining the unique offer with and for anchors, we created the brand for the Health Anchors Learning Network (HALN) – from vision to purpose, narrative to messaging, tone of voice to look and feel.  

We designed an easily navigated website in Squarespace which could hold content in a range of formats, paired with a newsletter in MailChimp, purposefully choosing two platforms which were simple enough for IU to maintain once we left the project. We created and scheduled launch activities across HALN social media accounts, partner channels, and with key influencers.  

Over the first two years of HALN, we supported the IU team with comms strategy, content and website maintenance, and provided analytics and insight to learn what was working and make good decisions on improving comms and HALN content. 

From a standing start, HALN has now grown to: 

  • 1,600 participants from across the UK, from across health and care and beyond 

  • 1,500 people attending HALN-organised events 

  • 1,300 downloads of HALN resources  

We’re also proud our colleagues at IU have been asked to speak about HALN and the work of health anchors at numerous external events.