Innovation programme

As part of Frontline’s philanthropically funded Fellowship, the Innovation programme gives Frontline fellows the opportunity to develop pioneering ideas that positively impact social work practice and drive social change for children and families.

The programme has been designed to guide participants through an innovation journey to help turn their ideas, whether small, sustainable change in an individual local authority, or national, system-wide change, into something tangible.


What makes the Innovation programme unique?

The first of its kind, the Innovation programme has been developed specifically for social workers, empowering them to create change through ideas that stem from their practice. Solutions will be directly driven by improving the lives of children and families, as well as overcoming challenges within the social work system. The Innovation programme aims to harness the unique insight social workers have into the root cause of these challenges, and support them to create real, tangible innovations to overcome these. While many of these challenges are not new, taking an innovative approach to tackling them that is led by social workers, is. By sharing their learning and best practice with the sector, we hope that more social workers will be inspired and encouraged to do the same.

Michelle Ziregbe

Project name: MZBIU

The challenge
There are not enough diverse leadership teams, which often impact on inclusive workspaces. Most often the leadership teams do not reflect the communities in which we serve.

The solution
My idea is an inclusive mentoring programme which promotes the importance of diverse leadership and inclusivity for all of the workforce.

How the Innovation programme has helped
The Innovation programme has developed my strategic thinking around practices and what needs to change. It has equipped me with tools on how to make my innovation move from an idea to a possibility and helped me to market my idea to a variety of organisations.

Raphael Cadenhead

Project name: Diversionary Police Custody Intervention

The challenge
The needs of young people at risk of exploitation are regularly overlooked and under-prioritised during and immediately after police custody. Professionals are often ill-equipped to harness these critical moments as opportunities for diversion and change.

The solution
My idea is to design and deliver a systemic model of intervention for custody diversion workers and police officers which will incorporate evidence-based, relational techniques into a police custody context.

How the Innovation programme has helped
I’ve learnt to turn my wider innovation ambitions into achievable, replicable sub-goals that are easier to focus on. It’s been valuable thinking about the “innovation journey” as an iterative process, and learning about various strategies to implement my project.

Why does the Innovation programme exist?

When it comes to innovation, it is widely acknowledged that the best people to look to for answers are those closest to the challenges. Social work is no exception – we believe social workers are best placed to identify ways to overcome the challenges they face. However, social workers rarely have the capacity to translate their insight into practical solutions to overcome these challenges. They also often face pressures and a lack of resources that stop them doing their best work. They aren’t able to spend the time they need to really get to know a family and understand what is going on for them – both of which are so vital to ensuring they can provide the support families need and keep children safe. This needs to change.

We know how adaptable, creative and resourceful social workers and Local Authorities can be. In this ability to adapt and innovate lies the solution to those persistent problems that social work faces. That’s why the Innovation programme exists: to support our growing community of fellows to turn their ideas and innovations into something tangible that brings about change in the social work system.

The process

Across the course of the 17-week programme, participants work through a three-stage process; define, explore, and build and design.


Fellows take part in group training and workshops, use innovation tools to clearly define their idea and what they need to make it happen, and research opportunities to implement the idea.


Fellows work with expert mentors to identify key stakeholders and potential collaborators and refine their learnings from stage one.

Build and design:

Fellows attend an intensive residential bootcamp and work with an expert to scope a pilot implementation of their idea, before pitching it to the innovation panel.

Want to get involved?

If you are interested in joining the next Innovation programme, please contact David Miller (

Please note the programme is currently only available to Frontline fellows.

Our Innovation programme is funded philanthropically

We rely on philanthropic grants and donations, as well as individuals like you, to deliver our pioneering, system-changing work. The donations we receive mean that our fellows can drive social change for children and families.

Going back to the heart of social work

Frontline fellow Daniel Comach is passionate about changing the system so social work, and social workers, can be the best it and they possibly can. In this podcast episode, he talks about an initiative he is working on that will bring back human relationships and connectedness, and change the way that families engage with and view the service.