South bank at night

Case Study: Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity

Taking a place-based approach to improving urban health

The Charity works in the London boroughs of Lambeth and Southwark, as a test bed for tackling health issues prevalent in inner-cities.

The Charity works on the interlinked drivers behind major health issues, building close collaborations with a wide diversity of partners and taking a whole-systems approach.

This approach is new for funders and is allowing them to explore the deep context needed to tackle broad, systemic issues.


‘It’s really worth spending some time trying to understand the issue. People talk a lot about codesign, which can be overused, but bringing people together and getting their thoughts and inputs complements the work you are doing. You can source ideas globally and test them with peoples’ real-life experiences.’


Programme structure

Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity has a programmatic focus. At the moment, it is focussing on reducing childhood obesity and slowing down people’s progression to multiple long-term health conditions. The Charity works at multiple scales: at a neighbourhood level to test and trial new solutions, at a borough, city, and even national levels to influence changes in policy and practice—and encourage others to adopt approaches that work.

The charity has also changed how it funds. Rather than expecting partners to approach it with fully-formed proposals from the outset, it first invites informal approaches. They look for potential, and help organisations develop and scale their projects.



  1. Understand context: The Charity decided on its research focuses by examining the evidence and seeing which issues were particularly prevalent in Lambeth and Southwark, and then matching this up with where they could add value. For its childhood obesity programme, after looking at local data and reviewing the international evidence base, the Charity decided to focus on bringing the high rates seen in less affluent areas down to the levels seen in more affluent neighbourhoods.
  2. Recognises issues are interconnected and tackle them from multiple angles: For the childhood obesity programme, the Charity does this by influencing the environments in which children live, work and play to increase the number of healthy options that are available and affordable. It works with supermarkets and schools to make changes to influence healthy eating, and with families and others to shape homes and early year settings to help encourage healthy habits.


For more information visit:


This case study is part of our framework for place-based funding.


For more on Place