Test and Learn grant funding for Health Anchors Learning Network (HALN) participants Funding for NHS anchor institutions who are HALN participants

Webinar: NHS as an anchor institution - Illustration

This programme is closed for applications.

Key Points

  • There are four grants of up to £25,000 available for NHS anchor institutions to make progress on their anchor ambitions, test approaches and generate new and valuable learning for the Health Anchors Learning Network (HALN). 
  • Participants from the HALN in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales were invited to submit an expression of interest by 16.00 on 27 September. 
  • Projects must be ready to start from early 2022 (January – March) for a six- to nine-month period.  

The Health Foundation and NHS England and NHS Improvement are working together to improve the wider determinants of health and tackle health inequalities through supporting the NHS in its role as an ‘anchor institution’. This work includes the Health Anchors Learning Network (HALN), which launched in March 2021 for participants to share and develop ideas, knowledge and skills, helping them to implement anchor strategies in practice.  

The Health Foundation and NHS England and NHS Improvement are providing Test and Learn grant funding for NHS anchor institutions who are participants of the HALN to make progress on their anchors work, test approaches and generate new and valuable learning for both HALN participants and the wider health and care system on what it takes to deliver anchor work in practice.  

There are four grants of up to £25,000 available for activities within England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. The grants will be selected by December 2021 for six- to nine-month projects.  

The aims of the funding are to test anchor practice, through which we hope to:  

  • Support NHS anchor institutions to deliver projects that enable them to help make progress on their broader anchor ambitions and contribute to tackling health inequalities.  
  • Create new and valuable anchor learning for HALN participants, and others working on anchor activities across health and care, to use and apply in their own contexts.   

This funding supports the Health Foundation and NHS England and NHS Improvement’s broader aims of building capacity and capability of NHS anchor institutions to improve the social determinants of health and reduce health inequalities for local communities.   

Anchor institutions are large, often public sector organisations that are ‘anchored’ in their surrounding community – they are unlikely to relocate and are rooted in and connected to their local populations.

This provides an opportunity to maximise their economic, social and environmental impact by adapting the way they employ people, purchase goods and services, use buildings and spaces, consider their environmental footprint and work in partnership.

For the NHS, this means the potential to make a make a far greater contribution to improve health and wellbeing, and reduce health inequalities, by enhancing their role as anchor institutions. 

Who can apply  

Funding is open to applicants across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.  

To be eligible for funding, projects must:  

  •  Name an NHS anchor institution as the lead applicant i.e., NHS trusts (England), Health Boards (Wales) NHS Boards (Scotland) and Health and Social Care Trusts (Northern Ireland). Organisations are welcome to apply in partnership with local partners, non-health anchor institutions, health systems, local authorities, charities, social enterprises, regional bodies and networks.  
  • Start from early 2022, taking place over a six- to nine-month period.   
  • Name a member of the project delivery team who is a HALN participant (have signed up to the newsletter via the HALN website). This should ideally be the project lead. There is no minimum time requirement for being a participant prior to applying for funding.  
  • Focus on anchor activities i.e., NHS organisations maximising the economic, social and/or environmental impact for their local populations. 

Applicants will be expected to contribute to any related programme evaluation commissioned by the Health Foundation or NHS England and NHS Improvement.  

Application timeline and process  

The Test and Learn grant funding will follow a two-stage application process. 

Please refer to the guidance which can be found in 'Related downloads' at the bottom of this page.

Expressions of interest  

The expressions of interest stage is now closed. 

Full application  

  • Longlisted applicants will be invited to submit a full application via Salesforce-Grants by 29 October. The deadline for submitting full applications is Monday 22 November
  • The full application must be submitted by the same applicant that submitted the expression of interest.   
  • In the full applications, applicants will be asked to expand on their expressions of interest. These will be assessed against the programme requirements outlined above.  
  • Shortlisted applicants may be invited to take part in short, informal interviews during the week commencing 6 December.  
  • The Health Foundation will notify teams of the final decisions by 13 December. All applicants will be offered feedback at this stage.   


Activity Date
Expressions of interest phase opens Friday 3 September
Applicant drop-in session Wednesday 15 September, 10.00 - 10.45
Expression of interest phase close and review starts Monday 27 September, 16.00
Longlisted applicants invited to submit full applications Friday 29 October

Applications close and review starts, including:

- shortlisting

- short interviews

Monday 22 November


w/c Monday 6 December

Final decision made and four successful applicants informed Monday 13 December

Information call 

The Health Foundation and NHS England and NHS Improvement ran an informal information call as an opportunity to hear a brief presentation about the grant funding programme and for prospective applicants to ask questions. You can watch the recording and see written responses to all questions that were submitted in the FAQs document below. 
If you would like to ask any further questions, please contact anchors@health.org.uk.  


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