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Unleashing the Potential in People and Places

Placemaking in Ten Northern Towns and Cities with Well North


Despite decades of initiaves and programmes, many part of northern England have persistent health and other inequalities.  Under the initial leadership of the late Professor Aidan Halligan, the Well North Programme was created by Aidan and £18m match funded by Public Health England to support ten northern towns and cities to work across partners and businesses to catalyse opportunities to change the dial.

Donna Bradshaw was appointed as the national system leadership advisor to the programme, and other members of the Prospect team supported the work, which resulted in the three-year programme forming a CIC – Well North Enterprises, where the work continues, now led by Lord Andrew Mawson.


  • Design and facilitation of a 60-person evaluation conference to explore from the beginning how an innovative and unique programme like this would be evaluated.  This workshop brought together academics, community leaders, politicians, practitioners from across the world.  This event resulted in the adoption of Realist Evaluation as the approach for the programme, which was conducted by the University of Manchester, who hosted the programme.

  • Recruitment of the ten towns and cities.  We developed a bespoke system maturity diagnostic tool, to support the Well North Board in selecting and approving the ten towns and cities.  This tool was based upon evidence and research about effective system’s change to drive health improvement.

  • Design, facilitation and write up of post diagnostic immersion residential events.  Each place brought together an eclectic mix of partners from across business, statutory and social sectors to immerse themselves into the findings of the diagnostic, and to agree which opportunities and priorities they would back.  We used artistic based approaches designed by Matt Worden in our team, to engage people emotionally, creatively, and intellectually in the work.

  • Facilitation of cluster events of all ten places together each quarter to share learning, best practice, problem solve and develop their personal leadership.

  • Commissioning of a senior leadership cohort to join the Armed Forces Command Leadership programme, through our partnership developed with Staff College.

  • Coaching programme for several community entrepreneurs across our towns and cities, along with local workshops and events to progress their local programmes, and to develop their local partnerships and teams and system leadership together.

  • Supporting, facilitating, and brokering local and regional discussions to unblock barriers which were political, financial, and structural, to progress the local programmes and remain focused on delivery of outcomes for communities.

  • Developing Community and Social Entrepreneurial Leadership.  Working with local leaders and social entrepreneurs, we:

  • developed a bespoke leadership formwork

  • conducted many 360-degree appraisals using this for community leaders

  • designed and delivered a Social entrepreneurial and system leadership programme, with masterclasses, coaching and action learning.

  • Evaluated to over 97% very good / excellent 


Several of the towns and cities achieved health improvement outcomes, although the evaluation is still ongoing. 

Three places have gone on to work with WNE as they are now at the stage of multi-million-pound investment programmes, using the opportunities to catalyse opportunities for local people and optimising health gains.

Unleashing the Potential in People and Places

Placemaking in Ten Northern Towns and Cities with Well North

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