Resetting the relationship between local and national government. Read our Local Government White Paper

North Lincolnshire Council: Creating an inspiring campaign and overcoming barriers to employment

This case study forms part of the publication, 'What good looks like: values-based recruitment in adult social care.' It demonstrates the benefits of creating an inspiring campaign and overcoming barriers to employment.

Key points

  • External providers were engaged early on to understand the nature of the recruitment challenge, fostering a closer ongoing working relationship.
  • A far-reaching values-based advertising and marketing campaign was developed, with the help of local businesses and featuring real people, alongside personalised approaches to recruitment.
  • A range of incentive schemes were established, with the support of other council services, to overcome some of the financial and wellbeing barriers to employment.


North Lincolnshire is located in eastern England, with a population of 172,000. Its largest town is Scunthorpe, with 80,000 residents. The rest of the region is more rural, made up of villages, small towns, farms and countryside. The region is relatively sparsely populated, with an older than average population compared to the rest of England.

What problem did you seek to address?

While recruitment challenges in adult social care were nothing new in North Lincolnshire, the scale of the challenge became unprecedented following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Capacity issues became so severe that registered managers were having to deliver care personally to ensure people remained well. This, in turn, took managers away from their recruitment duties – “it became a vicious cycle”.

Some small, short-term grants were available during the pandemic to kick-start recruitment activity, but the team wanted to invest in ideas and projects that would have longevity. This resulted in Proud to Care North Lincolnshire. Proud to Care is a brand used by several councils to help promote the value of, and career opportunities for, people in caring roles:

We wanted to raise the profile of the caring role, and celebrate the difference that it makes to people’s lives… so that people see it as a valued job, just as you would a nurse or a doctor”. A council representative

What did you do?

The team developed their website, which advertises all care sector vacancies in a single user-friendly search function. It also includes an employer’s hub featuring guidance on taking a values-based approach to recruitment. The team then “flooded the local area” with an array of marketing materials:

We had t-shirts made, pins, posters, pharmacy bags, we delivered leaflets to every household, we had adverts on petrol pumps…” A council representative


A key aspect of their campaign was working with Sky to air a minute-long advert, Celebrating North Lincolnshire’s care workers. The advert was produced by a local film company, with a voiceover written by a local poet, featuring real people and care workers. The team worked with Sky to target certain geographical areas and household profiles to maximise the impact. The team also developed a series of videos featuring inspiring personal stories of care workers who are proud to care in North Lincolnshire.

Care Friends

The Care Friends employee referral app was introduced to complement the marketing campaign with a more personalised approach – “the best person to promote jobs in your company are your own employees.” A care worker gets a point every time they share an advertised job, 25 points if the person they referred the job to applies, and more if they are appointed. Points are converted into pounds to spend. The incentive has proved an effective way of referring friends by motivating and engaging staff.


The team also wanted to address some of the barriers that people experience when considering applying for care roles, such as being unable to drive, the cost of childcare, and experiencing burnout. The aim was to ensure they feel like valued employees. The initiatives included:

  • wellbeing incentives – employees are given a three-month pass to visit a local stately home, as well as gym and swim passes and other benefits. The incentive gives parity with the NHS blue light card.
  • funded childcare – employees are given funded childcare, on top of the 15 hours most people are entitled to, to make it viable for workers to accept extra shifts without worrying about the financial trade-off.
  • transport – the council’s existing Wheels to Work scheme was extended to care workers, funding 20 electric scooters and 20 electric bikes that support people who do not have access to a car or a full driving licence.

Introduction to Care programme

An Introduction to Care Programme was developed on behalf of providers, which includes a series of bite-sized classes for people to better understand if a role in care is right for them. It covers many aspects you would expect to see in an induction programme, provides a more real-world view of the job to manage expectations, and matches people’s values to different roles and service types:

... we can also see if you’ve got the right values, and where would your values sit, whether that’s residential care, learning disability, mental health and so on, because you’ll find that someone may have a personal experience or family history and they’ve got far more experience than they realise.” A council representative

Who was involved?

  • Independent providers: The team engaged their local providers (they have more than 80 within their geography) to understand what was causing the workforce capacity gap. They discovered that providers faced stiff competition from supermarkets and other sectors, and could not compete on pay alone.
  • Council services: The team worked closely with wider council colleagues to put their incentive schemes into action, including children’s services, leisure services, transport and highways, and legal.
  • Devon County Council: The team worked with Devon County Council to develop the Proud to Care website, building on their experience so that it was operational within just a few weeks.
  • Local business: The team employed local companies to produce an advert, to develop a marketing campaign, and to help establish more childcare providers.

What was the impact?

  • North Lincolnshire’s Proud to Care campaign won the Best Innovation in Recruitment award at the Local Government Chronicle’s Workforce Awards in November 2023.
  • The Sky advertisement campaign increased traffic to the website by around 400 per cent.
  • Relationships with local providers have improved significantly, meaning they were more receptive to change. For example, they agreed to having only one provider operate on each street, creating more foot and cycle-friendly catchments for care workers.
  • The work has resulted in a dramatic fall in the number of open requests for home care in the past year, from 170 to 27 (as of December 2023), which has taken them back to pre-COVID levels.

It’s probably the best in the whole time I’ve been here. And you’ve got the knock-on effect across the system, so more people are supported to return home from hospital. That means someone else won’t go into residential care for a short-term placement and then decline… Not only that, but we’ve really improved our relationships with our providers… in some places, relationships can be quite adversarial, but in my mind, they’re our partners. We couldn’t do our job without them…  ” A council representative

What makes it good?

  • Making a national brand local: The team used the Proud to Care brand to develop their online presence and advertise all care vacancies in one place. They complemented this with a range of tailored marketing materials and videos to reflect, involve and appeal to the local community.
  • Making it personal: The campaign raised the profile of the vital role care workers play in the community, while schemes such as Care Friends enables employees to act as champions for recruiting people within their personal network.
  • Making people feel valued: The wide range of exclusive benefits and financial support schemes ensure employees feel valued, and allow the council to compete with other big local employers.

Further information


Proud to Care North Lincolnshire


Jo Johnson, Interim Assistant Director Safeguarding and Assurance, North Lincolnshire Council
Email: [email protected]

Charna Manterfield, Head of Adult Strategy and Assurance, North Lincolnshire Council
[email protected]