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Magpie Meets… Women’s Health Matters

Magpie Meets… Women’s Health Matters

Magpie Meets is a unique exchange programme which exists to fulfil Magpie’s volunteering time and professional development needs through exchanges with a diverse range of change-making organisations.

Participants of the programme are invited to join Magpie to solve a behaviour change communications challenge using behavioural science, creativity and collaboration. The process involves an in-depth briefing, a cultural immersion activity and an exchange workshop which encourages Magpie to transfer knowledge, understand change-making leadership at multiple levels and bring creative and academic practices to problem solving.

Between January and February, Magpie worked with Women’s Health Matters, a Leeds based charity that exists to support women and girls to live safe and healthy lives. Since 1987, the organisation has provided holistic, trauma-informed services for women and girls who are socially, economically, or politically marginalised. This includes, but is not limited to, those affected by domestic abuse, those whose children live elsewhere, those accessing maternity services, women seeking asylum, women with disabilities, and women and their children experiencing trauma.

Last year, the charity worked with 2517 women & girls across 27 projects. Provided intensive support to 1214 women & girls, lighter touch support to 1303 women & girls, and supported 303 children. They delivered 869 group sessions and 1728 one-to-one sessions. 

The team are a positive force in Leeds and Yorkshire, they work tirelessly to increase confidence, wellbeing and provide transformational support. For a relatively small team, their impact is huge. Access to more funding and new partnerships are vital to their work so do get in touch if you can offer your support.

Magpie Meets brief

CEO, Rachel Kelly, set Magpie the following creative behaviour change challenge:

How, in a time-poor and resource-stretched organisation, can we grow our reputation?

Following this, a behaviour change exchange programme was designed to co-create an approach for cultural change with those responsible for delivery, resulting in a behaviour change communications blueprint and journey map to guide the organisation on this programme of work.

Meeting the team

‘Magpie Meets… Women’s Health Matters’ began with an initial immersion session to understand the challenge from different perspectives and to dig deeper. During this seesion, Magpie was able to gain a more rounded understanding of Women’s Health Matters vision for change and understand the practicalities of the challenge.

For every Magpie Meets programme, a hand-picked project team is selected with relevant skills matched to the challenge set by the beneficiary. The team for this exchange included Co-founder Ged Savva, Campaign Consultant – Louise Hallworth and Researcher – Mierla Neto.

Exchange day

In January, the Magpie Meets project team arrived at Women’s Health Matters HQ in Leeds for a visionary day of co-creation.

In attendance were five representatives from across the charity, each representing different areas of the organisation. The passion and belief alignment of the team at Women’s Health Matters was truly awe-inspiring, it was clear the vision and mission of the organisation was being lived and realised by all. 

It was delightful to connect with Women’s Health Matters at Magpie Meets, delving into behavioural change techniques and communication strategies for purposeful actions and fostering a reputation reflecting meaningful change. Huge thank you to the inspiring women at Women’s Health Matters for sharing their passion and expertise with us.

Mirela Neto, Magpie Researcher

The primary resource was the ‘co-creation canvas’ which would act as a one-page strategy for taking the desired change forward beyond the session, enabling the team to focus the outcomes of the sessions as well as actionable phases of work.


Together, Magpie and Women’s Health Matters defined the behavioural outcomes the charity aims to achieve through their project. 

12 possible outcomes were explored and whittled down to one clear behaviour and culture shift change goal. This is:

Making space for proactive thinking to help grow reputation and increase funds.

Using a COM-B analysis for the challenge, we uncovered the capabilities, opportunities and motivations for change. The most prominent barriers for this culture shift included:

The most prominent facilitators for this culture shift included:

The sessions resulted in a blueprint strategic approach, giving the organisation focus and an outline plan for taking change forward. This included three potential frameworks for change including an open framework, a cumulative change framework and a more creative framework to align with the creative and tenacious culture at Women’s Health Matters.

I will take away how on the same page we are. That is a rewarding outcome from this session.


Understanding that steppingstones can work. It doesn’t need to be everything right away. Small changes can take us to a better place.


It’s rewarding to have space and time for ideas.


I’m really excited and inspired to action these ideas.


The time to do this together as a team is my takeaway.


Next steps

A creative behaviour change report has been provided to Women’s Health Matters and a follow-up consultation is taking place in March to further the organisation with advice around the practicalities of adopting the recommendations. 


Magpie is currently planning the calendar of Magpie Meets activity. If you would like to be considered as a beneficiary for our next Magpie Meets programme, please get in touch and a member of the Magpie team will be in contact.

The Developing Field of Behavioural Science

The Developing Field of Behavioural Science

Our Director of Behavioural Insights, Dr Grainne Dickerson, discusses the rise of Behavioural Science and how Magpie uses it to create happier and healthier communities.

What is behavioural science?

Behavioural science refers to the disciplines of psychology, behavioural economics, sociology and anthropology to understand, explain and predict behaviour. These fields of science are driven by academia and the rigorous research produced by behavioural scientists who are trained to the highest standards in research methods in their fields. Whilst the research conducted has potential to improve health outcomes for the population, there have been many missed opportunities to apply the findings of robust research in real world settings, however, this is changing.

What is the history of behavioural science?

Behavioural science started gaining popularity when the Cameron-Clegg coalition government in 2010 set up a nudge unit, inspired by the book Nudge by Thaler and Sustein (2009).

It was in the same year that I achieved my dream of becoming a behavioural scientist when I qualified as a Health Psychologist. Reading the book, Nudge and hearing about the nudge unit I realised I had been trained in all the same stuff! I then found myself determined to utilise my learning and skills within Public Health where I had been working.

“My mantra at the time was … if they can have a nudge unit in the government, they could and should have something similar in the NHS and local authorities, for they are also in the business of changing public behaviour.”

For several years after that I was actively championing behavioural science within Public Health in order to meld together the science and art of protecting the health of the public via Public Health work with the psychological processes in health, illness and healthcare through Health Psychology work. I had fantastic support at times in the various behavioural science and public health roles I worked in, and at other times I faced challenges, and this was because behavioural science wasn’t as widely valued back then. Fast forward to now, 12 years later in a world blighted by COVID-19, there’s been a proliferation in behavioural science…

Where is behavioural science now?

There has been a steady increase in the number of behavioural science teams and roles within the public sector who can apply rigorous scientific approaches to real world settings. This development reflects the recognition that behavioural sciences provide the opportunity to improve outcomes in the many areas of the public sector that are seeking to influence and change behaviour. Organisations with behavioural science teams include the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities, the UK Health Security Agency, the NHS, the Department for Transport and some local authorities such as Hertfordshire County Council.

There is a collective moving away from using ‘good ideas’ and a reliance on assumptions to utilising science based approaches to understanding target audiences, target behaviours and barriers and enablers that interventions need to address in order to enhance the health and wellbeing of population groups.

Here is a selection of highlights that have contributed to the growth of behavioural science during the last 12 years:

Behavioural science at Magpie:

At Magpie we also adopt a transdisciplinary approach to bring our behaviour change campaigns and interventions to fruition whilst championing unheard voices.  We bring together a combination of different skills and perspectives that combine to add the value that no single approach would achieve on its own. Working in this way creates more impact, but is also more rewarding and fun!  We combine subject matter expertise from our clients and our team with behavioural sciences, community engagement and creativity.

What next for behavioural science?

You could say there is a democratisation of behavioural science; moving away from the mysterious  ‘nudge unit’ in central government and the purely academic field to a more accessible and transparent approach.

Behavioural science is now a respected part of many teams, however there is more that could be done to further enhance the contribution of behavioural science across the country, including:

Written by Dr Grainne Dickerson

(Director of Behavioural Insights and Chair Elect Behavioural Science and Public Health Network)

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