25 Innovations – Turning Problems Into Opportunities

1.  The Olympic Project

Lord Mawson was one of the first movers to propose that the Olympic Games be brought to East London. In 1999 a meeting was held at the Bromley by Bow Centre with Paul Brickell, Richard Sumray and the architect, the late Lord Richard Rogers, which discussed the possibility of challenging the front runner Paris and bringing the Games to East London in 2012. Together this team wrote the first document on the London Olympics and created both the legacy logic for East London and an enticing narrative for the Games, based on East Londons impressive history of innovation and entrepreneurship. The vision was to use the Games to help both East London and the wider world rediscover the 6.5 miles of waterways that defined the Lower Lea Valley, stretching from Canary Wharf and the Royal Docks in the South up to Hackney Marshes and beyond in the North, creating a fantastic place to live, work and play; a Water City. The Olympics would act as the catalyst. London is the only city in the world to have delivered a world class legacy from the Olympic investment. Lord Mawson was a founding Director of the Olympic Park Legacy Company (OPLC) and its successor body the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC). He chaired the Regeneration and Community Partnerships committee.

2.  East Bank

Boris called it Olympicopolis, Sadiq Kahn called it East Bank. Lord Mawson, Paul Brickell and Mark Bostock who conceived the idea in 2007 thought of it and described it as an Innovation District. The plan; to encourage world class universities, many land locked on expensive sites in West London, to co locate in East London at the centre of the Olympic Park with leading edge organisations from business, the arts, science and technology. Years of experience at the Bromley by Bow Centre, on the edge of the Park had taught Lord Mawson and Paul Brickell that real innovation is spawned on the interfaces, when organisations and individuals who haven’t before shared space in traditional silo’d cultures, now would sit alongside each other in one of the country’s largest campus cluster developments. Boris Johnson, the then Mayor of London backed the idea and an Innovation Platform was born. But only after Lord Mawson and colleagues had persuaded University College London’s (UCL) Council and the then new Provost Michael Arthur to be the first mover and take their first steps into what was to be a £400M investment.

3. Bromley By Bow Centre

The building of the first integrated health centre to be run as a social enterprise and owned by its local patients. It was opened in 1997 by Tessa Jowell MP, Minister for Public Health in the Blair Government, following the tragic death of a local East End mother Jean Vialls, and a public enquiry. The health centre became one of the working models for the £357 million Healthy Living Centre program, NHS LIFT, and the Darzi Centre’s – all early attempts to collocate services and generate a more integrated approach to primary health care.

4. Social Prescribing

The Bromley by Bow Centre started the social prescribing movement 30 years ago. It then put it into every practice in Tower Hamlets 7 years ago, and persuaded the government in 2018 to put it into every practice in the country. The Centre is still involved in developing the approach as well as supporting and training link workers and primary care teams.

5. LIFT 

The Bromley by Bow Centre provided one of the inspirations for the multi million pound LIFT Programme initiated by the Blair Government in an attempt to extend and improve primary care facilities. This private finance initiative built primary care facilities across the country.

6.  Community Care

The Bromley by Bow Centre was the first to develop an integrated community based model of community care, combining services for frail elderly, learning difficulties, physically disabled etc in community context working with artists and local volunteers.

7. One of the Founders of the Social Enterprise Movement in the UK

Lord Mawson was one of the founders of the Social Enterprise Movement in Britain. He and his colleagues demonstrated how a social enterprise working with the public sector could deliver services ranging from running a local park; adult education and ESOL; childcare; adult and community care, etc in a fully integrated project. 

8.  Startup Support

The Bromley by Bow Centre working with local social and business entrepreneurs on a housing estate pioneered the first Business Hub of its kind in the country, known today as Beyond Business. Today, the Centre has generated with local people 93 new businesses. 

9.  Corporate Social Opportunity

In the 1990’s the Centre pioneered new relationships with the business community, what Lord Mawson calls Corporate Social Opportunity (CSO). One of their early business partners was Group 4 and together they won a contract, providing training and employment locally, through a £1m landscape business called Green Dreams. Lord Mawson was one of the first people in the country to pioneer in practice a new working relationship with business which explored win win opportunities for both partners. These early ideas had been extended today through the work of Andrew Mawson Partnerships. 

10. Aldermaston Nuclear Research Establishment Partnership 

In the 1990’s the Centre developed a unique partnership with Aldermaston Nuclear Research Establishment to create a children’s play area in the park behind the centre buildings in Bromley-by-Bow. This partnership created very early 3D images of the proposed new Health Centre and the model which today is exhibited in Science Museum.

11. Bow Arts 

Bow Arts brought together local artists and members of the local community, including children and people involved in the community care project to host series of exhibitions in underused spaces and empty shops (a pioneering concept the time) leading to a large arts exhibition at the Barbican Centre. Germaine Greer who visited the Centre would later write a compelling article in the Financial Times comparing the Centres approach to Arts and Health with the new Sensation Exhibition in West London sponsored by Saatchi. Lord Mawson noticed that East London was the home to the largest artistic community outside New York but few in the public sector had recognised or understood in the early 1980’s the link between the Arts and Health. The local artist Frank Creber (the Lowry of East London) spent a large part of his life working with local people and capturing in over 200 canvases (both large and small), the changing landscape and lives of East London as it went through one of its biggest transformations in history. 

12. Children’s Centre Program

The Bromley by Bow Centre pioneered the first working model of an integrated Children’s Centre in the country. In the early Blair years the government’s Children’s Centre Program was launched at the Bromley by Bow Centre by government ministers Charles Clarke and Margaret Hodge. It was seen as a blue print for this Program.

13. Healthy Living Centre

Bromley by Bow was the Founder of the Healthy Living Centre movement. In 1999 the New Opportunities Fund (now the Lottery) invested £347m in a national program of Healthy Living Centres, the Bromley-by-Bow integrated health centre was the first working model. Social Prescribing had its roots in these early years of the Health Centres development with its focus on the social determinants of health. Now, 24 years later, the Bromley by Bow Centre is embarking on a major redevelopment of its three acre site and plans to create a new and and even more radical Community Health Hub. In doing so it can provide the blueprint for the next generation of integrated primary care and community facilities across the country.

14. Poplar Harca

Lord Mawson was a founding Director of Poplar Harca, one of the first Housing Companies controlled by local residents connecting housing, health, education and jobs and skills, with a focus on community building and place making. Today this company is responsible for 10,000 homes and has a £2.1bn regeneration program in Poplar where it owns 34 percent of the land.

15. The Great Banquet

In 1995 Andrew was asked by Cardinal Hume and London’s Church leaders to organise The Great Banquet, with fellow social entrepreneurs Adele Blakebrough and Helen Taylor Thompson. A central focus was to take the emerging partnership agenda into local communities across the capital city. This London wide event brought together over 30,000 people in over 200 meals, with a central meal for 200 people at the Banqueting House in Whitehall. Attendees included Tony Blair, Sir Paul Condon, the Tory Peer Lord Peyton, Jesse Jackson from the US and a wide cross section of Londoners from all walks of life.

16. Community Action Network (CAN)

Community Action Network (CAN) was one of the legacy projects from The Great Banquet. In 1996 CAN created the first online support and engagement network for social entrepreneurs in the UK, and ran a wide range of innovative programmes. At the time the notion of social entrepreneurship was deeply controversial. In 2001 together with 4 other organisations we won £100m from the Millennium Commission and established UnLtd, with at that time also a controversial idea of giving grants to individuals (rather than organisations) as a way of improving their communities through entrepreneurial activity. This organisation is still going strong today. CAN also established the first monthly national publication for social enterprise and innovated and supported social franchising.

17. Stanton Guildhouse

Lord Mawson was asked by the then sub dean of Westminster Abbey, Doctor Anthony Harvey and the board of trustees to take responsibility for Stanton Guildhouse in 1996. This charity had its roots in Bromley-by-Bow and had a historical link with Mahatma Gandhi. This arts and crafts centre in the Cotswolds, established in 1960s by Mary Osborne (originally from Bromley-by-Bow) and built and run by volunteers was struggling after Mary’s death. Lord Mawson and his team turned the building into an exemplar project, a social enterprise which is no longer reliant on grant funding and is still going strong today.  

18. Mind in Tower Hamlets

Lord Mawson was asked by Mind in Tower Hamlets to lead the redevelopment of its new building in Tower Hamlets – Open House. His involvement in mental health issues over many years and concerns about poor quality facilities led him and a small team of Mental Health ACT Managers to challenge and suggest alternative proposals for the redevelopment of the St Clements Hospital site. It has always been Lord Mawson’s contention that the building and development of communities where people are encouraged to come together around a shared endeavour will always be more cost effective than employing an army of mental health professionals.

19. CAN Mezzanine

In 1998 Lord Mawson and his colleagues Adele Blakebrough and Helen Taylor-Thompson established CAN Mezzanine, today providing high quality open plan office space and support services to hundreds of social enterprises and charities in 4 locations. Specifically designed to encourage and promote interaction and joint working.  

20. “How to Mezzanine”

2001 DTI (now BiS) sponsored the publication of “How to Mezzanine”, a guide to setting up shared workspace.

21. One Church 100 Uses

In 2005 Lord Mawson and Donald Findley set up a new Social Enterprise – One Church 100 Uses to work with churches and christian denominations across the UK, to explore how the 55,000 church buildings could become local community hubs. They published 10 “how to guides” with English Heritage.

22. Water City

In 2005 Water City CIC was founded to promote East London as a positive destination. Innovative partnerships with Grand Design, Excel, the Tower of London and programmes of music and concerts involving young people performing in unusual surroundings such as the gardens of the Tower of London which now happens annually involving 100s of young people. The music programme is led by the amazing violinist Michael Bochmann.

23. St Paul’s Way Transformation Project

The St Paul’s Way Transformation Project was a “Neighbourhood level” (in today’s jargon) intervention that brought together the local authority, the local school, the GP Network and the local housing company (Poplar HARCA) to bring about transformational change in and around St Paul’s Way, a main street through Poplar. Together, we built a new £40 million secondary school, new primary school, new health centre, new mosque, new community centre and restaurant, new street scene and 595 new homes (and counting). In parallel with this we transformed the quality of the local leadership and thence of local service provision. The failing secondary school moved to OFSTED outstanding; the failing (semi-legal) GP practice was replaced and its successor became CQC outstanding; and the independently monitored residents’ satisfaction level is currently 85%.

24.  Science Summer School with Professor Brian Cox

Following a chance meeting with the physicist Prof Brian Cox in 2011, Lord Mawson co-founded the Science Summer School Program in St Paul’s Way with Brian, in the middle of a failing housing estate at that time, in Tower Hamlets. Now in its eleventh year the Science Programme has now been replicated in Cumbria, Rotherham, Skelmersdale, with plans for Northern Ireland and the Brooklands Museum in Surrey. 

25. Well North Enterprises

In 2015, at the request of Duncan Selbie, CEO of Public Health England Lord Mawson was asked to lead the £20M Well North Programme, taking the many years of practical experience in East London into some of the most challenging communities in the North of England. Out of this programme has grown Well North Enterprises. Well North Enterprises through its innovation platforms is suggesting new approaches to health and social care and the delivery of public sector services.