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Insights about Health

From fund to Foundation – building a rapid response mechanism in the pandemic

Neighbourly is based on the belief that community resilience builds from strong connections between government, businesses, not-for-profit organisations and individuals. Over the last six years we have proved time and again how big businesses can make a critical difference to individual lives by sharing resources and skills through hyper-local causes. Often ignored, these small causes ... more

10 November 2020
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What I’ve learnt from living at home during a crisis

As a newly appointed Junior Account Executive, still finding my feet in communications, to suddenly be working from home during the lockdown has been a whirlwind experience. I never thought I would be working from home this much until much later in my career. After many weeks of trying to adjust to the “new normal” ... more

28 May 2020
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Now’s the time for visibility

I’ve done a fair amount of training and consultancy around communicating in a crisis over the years, complacently believing that for many of the participants, it would remain a store of unneeded knowledge and approaches. Well, as far as crises go, it’s Christmas and for many organisations, pretty much everything they are putting out currently, ... more

20 May 2020
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There’s no ‘I’ in purpose

As I sit at my bespoke home-working space – or “kitchen table”, as it’s more commonly known – I’m chasing a client for late payment of an invoice, one that predates the current troubles we are all facing. This will be an all too familiar feeling to many working for an agency, particularly if you’re ... more

16 April 2020
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Communicating with kindness

COVID-19 – such an anodyne, anonymous collection of letters but one that has thrown the world off its axis and fundamentally changed millions of lives at a bewildering speed. It has also spawned an avalanche of communication from pretty much every organisation under the sun. If you are not currently self-isolating from this deluge you ... more

30 March 2020
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Tackling isolation through digital innovation

Last week brought to a close, a 10 month project which we have been working closely with our client Nesta Challenges and Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) on, to launch the Tech to Connect Challenge – an England-wide competition to scale tech-based solutions to reduce social isolation. Tech can be alienating or ... more

Where’s the action on International Women’s Day?

It’s International Women’s Day. Which means a lot of things are all happening at once. We’re celebrating the truly amazing achievements of women around the world. We’re also calling for equality of opportunity and recognition. Richard Herring is no doubt spending the day on Twitter reminding disgruntled users that, yes, there is an International Men’s ... more

What a difference a year makes

My 2019 calendar social impact story reflects on a year when we finally started to wake up to the threat of the climate emergency… January   We kicked off the year in our fabulous new offices. A quiet but important policy came into effect with the revised Corporate Governance Code strengthening director responsibilities for listed companies ... more

Three Weddings and a Dress

It started with someone borrowing trousers for fancy dress, then something for a wedding, a graduation and so on. We now swap Winter coats for whole seasons and lend each other entire holiday wardrobes. At Forster, our ever-increasing understanding of the environmental and human cost of fast fashion meant that many of us no longer ... more

Along for the ride

After having the luxury of living a ten-minute walk from Forster since we relocated to Whitechapel at the end of 2018, I found myself facing the dreaded London commute once again when I moved house in September this year. Aside from the fact I didn’t want to be crammed amongst commuters on the underground, I was ... more

17 December 2019
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Ideas plus people – the equation for better health

Big problems need radical ideas and action and they don’t come much bigger than improving health. In 2019, Forster has been helping clients promote radical ideas and inspire action off the back of them. The partnership we helped create between the Daily Mail and Helpforce inspired 33,000 people to volunteer with the NHS in 2019. ... more

17 December 2019
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Small and many is powerful

The cheerful gentleman on the right in this photo is Robin. He is a resident at Etheldred House, a care home in Histon, Cambridgeshire, where I live. Robin suffered a brain injury a few years back and now needs care support. He is unusual in that he is resident in the same care home as ... more

17 December 2019
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Reach out and connect

Back in 2013, the health secretary described loneliness among older people as “our national shame”. Fast forward to 2019 and more than nine million people in the UK say they “often or always” feel lonely. The loneliness epidemic isn’t new, and we are doing more to tackle it at a systemic level, but it often ... more

17 December 2019
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Eating for the future

Four years ago, I looked at what I could do to tackle climate change and came up with six areas for not only myself, but for anyone who would ask. 1.) How you vote 2.) What you eat 3.) How you travel 4.) How you waste/recycle 5.) What energy you use 6.) Where you spend ... more

17 December 2019
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When funders get active

Big problems abound and urgent action is required to tackle them. Perhaps it has always been that way, but something has changed and there is an exciting shift in how many social funders are ramping up their approach to positive change. It is marked by a decisive move towards being more active and taking a ... more

21 November 2019
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Where we are, where we want to be

Where we are, where we want to be Forster has been living and breathing sustainability issues for our entire existence and central to that is our commitment that we always walk the talk. Even before we became a founding UK B Corp, we were committed to being transparent about our impact – good and bad ... more

Improving access to free mental health training for SME’s

Our ambition is to help give people access to the products, information and services they need to support their health, and the confidence and ability they need to use it to live well. Which is why we are so proud to be involved in the development of a new e-learning tool for SME’s. Small and ... more

16 April 2019
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Turning sustainability cynics into storytellers

Your business purpose is clear and you have a strong social change ambition – but now it needs to become a reality.  How can you find the tipping point where ownership shifts from a few individuals to a company-wide culture that is hardwired into decision making and behaviours? Typically, employees will be segmented according to ... more

Forster Communications partners with Cello Health Communications to deliver new sustainability offering to the Pharma industry

Cello Health Communications and Forster Communications say the combined strength of their specialist experience in understanding the pharmaceutical industry and sustainability communications will unlock existing potential and help bring sustainability to life Today Forster Communications and Cello Health Communications announce their joint endeavour ‘Sustainable Pharma Futures’ – a new service developed specifically for the pharmaceutical ... more

19 February 2019
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The Wates Principles and the $1.8 billion opportunity for pharma

In December, the Wates Principles were published as new guidance for large private companies, reiterating the need for them to behave in a way that benefits society as well as the economy, building trust and confidence among all stakeholders. It is an important moment, recognizing the impact of the private business sector, and sits alongside the revised ... more

7 February 2019
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Every employee an ambassador

We are delighted to have been recognised as one of Britain’s Healthiest Workplaces for three years running – coming in with a silver medal at today’s awards among some of the UK’s most pioneering organisations. It would be easy for me as CEO to take the credit, but I know that the consistency of our ... more

16 January 2019
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Transforming NHS volunteering

We launched Helpforce to the public via an exclusive, in depth interview with David Brindle in the Guardian on 6 December 2017. On 1 December 2018, the Daily Mail filled eight pages to encourage people to pledge time to support the NHS, yielding an incredible response from people of all ages across the country – ... more

12 December 2018
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Person centred social care – is it too much to ask?

You could hear a pin drop as the all too familiar stories were told. One from a council worker who is trying to provide assistance to an elderly couple in their home. His physical condition is deteriorating, but the only person whom his wife – managing some mental health issues of her own – trusts ... more

16 November 2018
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Ready to eat: How far should a brand go to accommodate?

The last few weeks have seen the tragic story of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse spun out across the media, naming and shaming Pret for not doing enough to protect people with allergies. So, how far should businesses go to accommodate allergy sufferers and where does personal responsibility fit in? Accommodating is such an innocuous word, but for ... more

6 November 2018
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Adapting communications to changing lives

Earlier this month saw the publication of the government’s loneliness strategy and there is much to applaud in it. Firstly, it is great to even have a strategy for such a critical public health issue, and secondly, it is fantastic to see businesses such as Royal Mail playing an active role in tackling it. It’s ... more

26 October 2018
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Mental health – from awareness to action

Awareness and understanding of mental health has dramatically increased in the last 20 years, thanks in part to pioneering campaigns like MindOut for Mental Health that we helped to create. Yet, one in four people in the UK still experience mental health problems each year[1] and it cost 300,000 people their jobs[2]. Within the UK, ... more

9 October 2018
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Employers need to prioritise flexibility

We have produced a diverse range of toolkits for employers recently, on behalf of Public Health England and Business in the Community, the most recent being one on domestic abuse which launched this summer. The issues we’ve covered are very different, but there is a common thread that runs through them all – the importance ... more

21 September 2018
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We need safe spaces to challenge the status quo

Every year the UN celebrates International Youth Day, and this year the theme is Safe Spaces. A ‘safe space’ is not a tangible or physical location, more a descriptor of a culture in which people can share their experiences without judgement, in an environment where they can exist free from violence, harassment, or hate speech. ... more

Delivering the Sustainable Development Goals is everyone’s business but how do you convince everyone else of that?

This week Measuring Up, the first comprehensive assessment of the UK’s performance against the SDGs, was released. It makes for tough reading. The UK is performing well on only a quarter of all the goals, and the profound problems of poverty and malnutrition are on the rise. This matters for every business in the UK ... more

You are not alone

How do you solve really big problems? The answer never changes but always bares repeating – by working together. There is of course something very romantic about a lone visionary labouring away in a lab / garage / garden shed to conjure up game-changing inventions, innovations and insights, but the reality is far more likely ... more

Sustainable transport at Forster

Here at Forster we’re big advocates of sustainable transport. So much so that we encourage and support all of our staff to either cycle or walk to work. Included in our employee benefits programme are the following: Peddle points: 5 minutes additional holiday for every return journey walked or cycled to work Free company loan ... more

6 June 2018
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Turning policy into living, breathing practice

Being a PR professional can be hard. No one really understands what we do; and those that have some idea often don’t like the sound of it. We tend to have clients on one side and journalists on the other. We’re a service industry with deadlines and jobs that don’t always fit into the 9-5 ... more

31 January 2018
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Think Global, Act Local

PR agencies spend a lot of time talking about living their values, for themselves and their clients. It is an important thing to do in an industry that gets shaken by scandals like Bell Pottinger every few years, where companies have forgotten that this mantra needs to be practised and not just preached. It was ... more

Improving health

We have been named ‘Britain’s Healthiest Workplace’ for the past two years by Vitality Health and ‘Best for the World’ for in the staff, overall and long term categories by the B Corps movement, but we wanted to dig into more detail, to understand where we’re doing best and where we could do even better. ... more

25 January 2018
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Society and the environment – our impact

No matter how innovative and progressive we are on improving health through our clients and employees, we also do our best to reduce our environmental footprint and have a positive impact on our community. Here are some of the things we have done: Staff volunteering: all our staff volunteered for a day for FoodCycle, creating ... more

25 January 2018
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Our people – our impact

The health and wellbeing of our people has always been incredibly important to us. It is great for staff and it is good for business. We have created a comprehensive wellbeing programme over the past two years and produced some impressive results: Sessions with nutritionists and mindfulness experts. Regular lunchtime running and walking clubs. Exercise ... more

25 January 2018
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Living Well

Encourage people to live well and we can reduce the incidence of health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancers, and so ease the strain on our health systems and help people live healthier, happier lives. This is no better illustrated than with the case of diabetes – a largely preventable life-changing condition that ... more

25 January 2018
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Shining a light

Since Forster’s inception, we’ve been proud to shine a light on issues that are considered taboo or ignored by others. Back in 2003, we launched the first ever integrated mental health campaign – MindOut – at a time when mental health was still very much a taboo topic. Back then, we helped raised awareness, smashed ... more

25 January 2018
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Health – Looking ahead

Giving people access to the products, information and services they need to support their health, and the confidence and ability they need to use it to live well. That’s a big goal, so we have broken it down into a series of commitments and targets covering each of our spheres of impact ... more

25 January 2018
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Making flexible working work for you

Encouraging flexible and remote working can enable organisations to become more agile and better respond to the needs of their people. But how do we introduce flexibility and manage our culture effectively to avoid the ‘always switched on’ syndrome, while increasing outcomes? We spoke at the CIPD annual conference earlier this month about how you can ... more

23 November 2017
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Living with Lupus

16 months after my diagnosis, I am still coming to terms with what it means to live with Lupus. Lupus (Systemic Lupus Erythematosus) is an autoimmune disease where the body’s white blood cells attack the healthy tissues, resulting in inflammation to the joints, skin and internal organs. It is a life-long condition, there is no ... more

8 November 2017

Restoring dignity and hope – Kenya’s fight against fistula

When you work in social change communications, you can sometimes feel a long way from the actual social change. Recently Laura Hedges, a senior consultant at Forster Communications, got the chance to experience first-hand the impact of the campaign she helped to develop and implement for Astellas Pharma Europe, a campaign that is tackling one ... more

8 November 2017
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Bringing diversity and inclusion into the heart of a business

Diversity and inclusion is increasingly recognised as being vital to business success because the benefits of inclusion and diversity are clear. A range of backgrounds, faiths, genders and ethnicities bring new ideas, innovation and practices that can vastly improve operations. There are countless reports and studies which show the impact increasing diversity can have on ... more

28 September 2017
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Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

Nudging has been fashionable for a few years as the key to creating behaviour change around all sorts of public health issues like smoking, exercise and healthy eating. But nudging can be exhausting because you have to keep doing it. Sustainable behaviour change needs more than the nudge, it needs initiatives that crack the hardest ... more

28 September 2017
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Forster wins Britain’s Healthiest Workplace, for the second year running

Over 167 organisations and 31,950 individuals from across the UK took place in this year’s survey developed by VitalityHealth, which is now in its fifth year. Looking at nine different risk factors for employees including nutrition, physical activity, mental wellbeing, smoking, alcohol and sleep as well as workplace interventions, facilities and services it crucially gathers ... more

13 September 2017
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When the Drugs Don’t Work

As someone who has enjoyed summer music festivals for almost ten years, being around people using something other than alcohol to keep them partying is par for the course. About one in 20 people age 16 to 24 have taken ecstasy – a common festival drug – in the last 12 months, ONS figures suggest. ... more

24 August 2017
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Communication needs to be free from assumptions and biases

The Social Market Foundation estimates that raising disability employment to the national average would boost the UK economy by at least £13 billion. On average, disabled employees are just as productive as non-disabled people, have significantly less time off, fewer workplace accidents, and stay in their jobs longer. They have inside intelligence on the “purple ... more

24 August 2017
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Transforming Lives in Kenya

We’re delighted that, last week, our groundbreaking campaign with Astellas Pharma Europe, Action on Fistula, won Excellence in CSR at the 2017 Communiqué Awards. Launched in 2014, the Fistula Foundation’s set out to transform the lives of women in Kenya living with fistula: an injury caused by prolonged obstructed labor. Supported by a grant from ... more

12 July 2017
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Responding to terrorism – head versus heart

Our office was closed early last week as it was inside the police cordon surrounding Borough Market following the London Bridge terrorist attack. It was a real jolt to see such a familiar place sealed off with police tape, to see the rubbish dropped in panic on the Saturday night still lying in the gutter. ... more

15 June 2017
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Progress never sleeps

Progress isn’t easy. A lot of the time it feels like you are swimming in treacle, thrashing about and making little headway. Even worse, it can feel like one step forward and two steps back. That is why it is important to take the time to reflect on and celebrate when real tangible progress is ... more

Managing mental health at work

Mental health is in the news more than ever;  whether it’s the royals launching the “Heads Together” campaign, the positioning of mental health in the major party manifestos in the run up to this year’s general election, or that mental health related sickness absence is overtaking muscular-skeletal conditions in non-manual employment, it’s clear that there ... more

The battle between head and heart

Working in social change PR inevitably means working with emotionally-charged topics more often than not. It’s rare to have a week at work that’s simple “business-as-usual” given that you might be developing an awareness campaign on FGM one week and promoting fundraising for children’s mental health support the next. Our brand of PR isn’t champagne ... more

11 May 2017
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Promoting the work of the Infection Prevention Society

We’ve been selected by the Infection Prevention Society to help position the organisation as the UK’s leading authority on infection prevention and control. We are supporting the organisation– which represents around 2,000 healthcare professionals working in infection prevention and control – with media engagement to highlight its value to patients, healthcare providers and wider society….. ... more

5 April 2017

Britain’s Healthiest Workplace – webcast

After being named Britain’s Healthiest Workplace, an award developed by VitalityHealth and delivered in partnership with the University of Cambridge, RAND Europe and Mercer, we recently joined GlaxoSmithKline and Phoenix Group to share our experience of taking part in the study. From innovative cycling policies to training our line managers on mental health, we know ... more

6 March 2017
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Aviva: The business case for supporting staff with caring responsibilities

Employers for Carers estimates that one in nine workers are carers and one in six of these will leave the workforce due to their caring responsibilities. For Aviva UK that’s 1,700 carers, of which 300 are in danger of leaving. In the current economic climate it is an important time to retain skilled workers rather ... more

9 February 2017
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Businesses unite in a bid to make the UK economy ‘fit for the future’ by backing sustainable development

Over 80 major businesses have united to call on the Government to demonstrate its commitment to delivering the UN Sustainable Development Goals in the UK and overseas Open letter to Prime Minister says sustainable development is essential for long term prosperity and the wellbeing of future generations Letter is published on the eve of the ... more

It’s all about the application

In the lead up to FutureFest last month, Nesta carried out a survey which revealed that more people would rather live now than in 20 years’ time. Geoff Mulgan, Chief Executive at Nesta, reminded us that our future is a choice; we have an opportunity to change this fear into possibility. “The concept of the ... more

22 years: Proof Positive

We’ve been thinking positively and working with our clients to make real positive change for the last 22 years. Here are just a few of the things we’re most proud of which show that if businesses, governments, charities and people work together, we can make good things happen…   In 2003 we created Seeing is ... more

Can the heroes of Rio really inspire a nation to get fit?

There had been hopes that London 2012 would be a turning point in the nation’s health, and that the legacy of the Olympics would be to inspire people to walk, run, swim and jump in large numbers. Alas, the warm glow did not last beyond that Olympic summer and there is no evidence to suggest that Rio will be any different. ... more

25 August 2016

Forster calls on PR industry to act on mental health

We have been working with Business in the Community and Public Health England to develop a new free toolkit for employers to act on mental health – and now we want it to change they way the PR industry promotes mental health in its own workplaces. With one in six employees currently experiencing problems, mental ... more

17 May 2016
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Mental health? We’ve barely started

People remember the headline ‘Bonkers Bruno’ from the Sun, one of the saddest and most misguided headlines ever published. But the article that was printed beneath it was just as corrosive. It described the retired boxer Frank Bruno as “a nutter” who had been “locked up”. We have come a long way since those days ... more

17 May 2016

Taking a lead on workplace mental health

So much is written about mental health in the workplace and plenty of advice is available on how to protect and support employees. But many organisations still fail to act – are they confused by where to start, shackled by the stigma that still surrounds mental health, or have they simply failed to understand the ... more

17 May 2016
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Where next for mental health in the UK?

Mental health has come a long way over the last decade or two but there is still more that can be done to ensure appropriate products and services are in place to help. We asked some of our clients and associates working in mental health to share their thoughts. You can join the conversation by ... more

17 May 2016

Five Ways We Can All Limit Loneliness

Loneliness is a public health crisis. And one that's getting worse. It's a crisis facing individuals, so it's often invisible, yet pervasive - in organisations, at home, among the young and elderly, advantaged and disadvantaged. ... more

7 January 2016
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Bringing business to society

As the year comes to an end, you would be forgiven for believing the world has never been in worse shape. Social unrest, environmental devastation, economic uncertainty, multiple conflicts and the seemingly relentless rise of extremism – all have reared their heads repeatedly in 2015. But, you’d be wrong. The world is currently more peaceful, ... more

The charity sector needs to campaign for its reputation

Predictably the recent Times exposure have inspired much gnashing of teeth and cries of “why us?” – just as the previous scandals and crises have done so. It is a legitimate question to ask – it is not paranoid to think someone is out to get you when someone is really out to get you. ... more

22 December 2015
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We’re in the business of action

Raising awareness is one thing, getting people to take action is another. We’ve spent 20 years successfully inspiring the latter and have brought all that knowhow together to create our new Activation practice. It will focus on helping clients create campaigns and movements that inspire people to challenge attitudes, support a cause, change the way ... more

The challenge of engaging staff on mental health issues in the health sector

The need for NHS employees to be supported by health and wellbeing plans is well documented. NHS Employers estimates that 30 percent of NHS sick leave is caused by stress, costing up to £400 million a year in lost productivity, and NHS England’s Five Year Forward View has highlighted the need for Trusts to help ... more

11 May 2015
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Mental Health at Forster

We’ve all heard the statistics; one in four people experience mental illness symptoms in any given year. What’s more, a recent survey from PRCA suggests this figure rises to a third within our sector, costing the UK economy an estimated £70 bn per year. In the last 15 years we have worked on a number ... more

13 April 2015
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Why long-term campaigning works: spotlight on cycling

2015 will mark the 10th anniversary of the London 7/7 tube bombings, a terrible tragedy but which had the unexpected side effect of increasing the number of people cycling to work in London. Many will have reverted back to the tube having experienced riding a bike on the capital’s roads is perhaps not as expected. ... more

We’re talking about mental health, are you?

Last year, more than 15 million days of sickness absence across the UK were caused by everyday mental health conditions such as stress, anxiety or depression. And despite one in six employees (that’s your colleagues, friends and family) currently experiencing mental health issues, many businesses are not putting in place plans to ensure the mental ... more

29 April 2014
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Hard message? Get creative

As an agency that focuses on behavioural change campaigns we are often tasked with reaching audiences who are disengaged from what we are trying to say, whether this is because they are socially isolated, have ‘heard it all before’, or in many cases, more

17 April 2014
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We’ve come a long way

Mental health has never been more relevant. There’s been public outrage about the level of cuts to mental health services: The Guardian recently reported that the NHS currently allocates just 13% of its resources to treatment of mental health problems, despite these problems accounting for 23% of disease burden in England. Campaigns such as the ... more

19 February 2014
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We’re not allowed to discriminate… but we do

Last week Forster had a session on becoming a dementia friends. For those not familiar with the scheme this is an hour’s interactive briefing run by Alzheimer’s Society, designed to make people more aware of what it is like to have dementia and the problems those with the disease encounter on a daily basis. As ... more

5 ways we can all limit loneliness

Loneliness is a public health crisis. And one that’s getting worse. It’s a crisis facing individuals, so it’s often invisible, yet pervasive – in organisations, at home, among the young and elderly, advantaged and disadvantaged. What can we do about loneliness? Here are some suggestions. In Paulo Coelho’s book ‘Eleven Minutes’, loneliness is the worst ... more

18 June 2013
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Taking an open-minded approach to mental health

Forster recently helped Business in the Community’s Workwell programme to launch its first ever FTSE 100 benchmark results. This gave an insight to how some of the world’s leading companies manage the health and wellbeing of their people. There was one particular set of findings that was most compelling – only 6% of the FTSE ... more

4 June 2013
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Help me plan for the future

I can’t make up my mind where to go on holiday next year. And I still haven’t decided what to do this weekend. Hey, I don’t even know what I want for lunch today. So it will come as no surprise that I haven’t thought much about my future when it comes to care. And ... more

31 October 2012
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Silence on mental health – that’s the global crisis……

It’s not the prevalence of mental health that is the crisis – it’s the stigma and discrimination that’s the real issue.   The stigma which continues to shroud all forms mental illness is deeply unhelpful. It prevents people seeking the help that they need It prevents people talking, sharing and comparing experiences It makes it ... more

10 October 2012
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MPs shine a bright light on mental health

I applaud the MPs who stood up yesterday and disclosed their very personal mental health stories in a bid to address the stigma and discrimination that Forster has been developing campaigns around for over a decade more

15 June 2012

Mental Health Awareness Week

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, and it is interesting to see that mental wellbeing is the theme. The Mental Health Foundation is encouraging the public to do a good deed to feel good.  We have come a long way from the days of ‘mental health’ meaning ill health. And mental ill health being ... more

23 May 2012
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Let’s care about carers

The principle of personalisation – for both the cared for and the carer – is absolutely right. The systems, services and support – the real choices – just aren’t there yet. Over 3 million people juggle care with work. However, the significant demands of caring mean that 1 in 5 carers is forced to give ... more

9 May 2012
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