Do you fancy a challenge?

Do you have great ideas or emerging evidence about how we can help more people with musculoskeletal and/or mental health problems stay in work?

Introducing the Challenge Fund    #WHChallengeFund

The Government’s Work and Health Unit, a joint unit funded by the Department for Work and Pensions and Department of Health and Social Care, is launching the Challenge Fund, a new time-limited source of funding aimed at testing new or promising approaches to helping people experiencing mental health or musculoskeletal (MSK) issues stay in work.  They might be at risk of losing their job because of sickness or may already be off work temporarily through ill health.

As a Unit, we do not have pre-conceived ideas about what works or could work.  However, we do know that the existing evidence base is not sufficiently strong.  As we believe that you are best placed to judge what might have promise, we’ve drawn our parameters broadly, with applications welcomed for projects that operate within one or more of the following areas:

Helping people stay in work by increasing their ability to self-manage their mental health and/or MSK conditions.
Helping people access advice and support about what sort of work they might be capable of doing given their wider needs and circumstances.
Developing new approaches to help employers and individuals develop workplace solutions, or ways of working that facilitate greater work participation of those with MSK and mental health conditions.
Improving systems by joining up services to strengthen communication, liaison or joint action to help those with mental health and MSK conditions to remain in work.

Who can apply?

We do not have pre-conceived ideas about who you are.  We welcome applications from employers, charities, social enterprises, local authorities, health bodies and others.  You might apply as a single entity or with partners.

We know that innovation often develops in community settings, so we particularly welcome applications from smaller organisations.

We also know that geographies vary widely. We therefore welcome applications from rural and urban communities and from across England, Scotland and Wales.

It’s also worth remembering this Fund is primarily about learning.  We are therefore looking for a good spread of projects and thus funding decisions will be taken with this in mind.  

How much is on offer?

The Fund is squarely aimed at encouraging innovation and ideas with an emerging evidence base.  To that end, the Unit is looking to fund small to medium scale initiatives, with £4.2 million available.  Projects are due to run in the period between October 2018 and February 2020 and could be completely new ideas, projects in development or those which could benefit from investment to scale up. The Fund cannot be used to support business as usual.

How do I learn more?

Rocket Science is working with the Work and Health Unit to run the Fund.   To access the Guidance and Application Form visit

The following market engagement events took place in July and August around the UK.

Birmingham:       26 July, 1 – 3pm ENDED
London:               27 July, 11am – 1pm ENDED
Glasgow:             1 August, 1 – 3pm ENDED
Cardiff:                3 August, 1 – 3pm ENDED

The video of the London Market Engagement Event is available here

Further information:

The Fund is open for applications from 16 July until 5pm on 17 August 2018.



twitter:  #whchallengefund