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Wigan Council: Developing a positive marketing campaign and streamlining recruitment processes

This case study forms part of the publication, 'What good looks like: values-based recruitment in adult social care.' It showcases the benefits of developing a positive marketing campaign and streamlining recruitment processes.

Key points

  • Developed the Care to Join Us brand, using positive messaging about a career in care and addressing preconceptions.
  • Replacing the standard application process with a single point of contact and simple expression of interest to make it easier for jobseekers and to find more suitable candidates.
  • Captured continuous data on the impact of the campaign and created films of care workers to highlight the career path and broaden the reach.


Wigan is a metropolitan district in Greater Manchester. It has a population of around 330,000, which is slightly older than the England average. The area is among the top 35 per cent most densely populated local authorities.

As with many councils, there is increased demand for adult social care services driven by deprivation, cost of living and the aging population, coupled with people living with more complex needs.

What problem did you seek to address?

In 2021, one of Wigan Council’s in-house adult social care teams – covering respite care, care home and supported living services – asked for help with recruitment of support workers. This was followed by a request to support recruitment across the external providers who shared many of the same recrtuiment challenges. The team used their background in marketing to develop a new brand and campaign called Care to Join Us.

It was very much about, ‘we need people in care, but don’t worry if you don’t have any professional experience, because we’ll give you all the skills and the training you need. You bring your big heart and your big smile, and your desire to care for others”. A council representative

What did you do?

Dispelling the myths

The team began by meeting a wide range of staff, to understand more about the support worker role and people’s experiences of working there:

The first thing I did was go and talk to staff, and I was just blown away by how passionate people are about the job. They love it. They really care about people, and they develop really strong bonds. So, I thought, how can we explode some of the myths about working in care.” A council representative

The marketing messages focused on ‘local jobs for local people’, with around half of the home care visits now done on foot or by bike. The team discovered younger workers who were passionate about the job, and in many cases progressing quickly through the ranks. This helped them develop worker profiles for the website and social media, and to refine their target audiences to:

  • Younger people, focusing on highlighting the range of career opportunities.
  • People later in life, who had perhaps been looking after a family, or seeking a change following the pandemic.

Simplifying the process

The team removed the standard application form from the recruitment process as they were targeting people who may not have completed a form for many years. They replaced it with a simple online form: “We were just asking for personal details, why you’re interested in the job, and what you think you will bring. Nothing on past experience, qualifications, skills or training.”

The team has since learned to ask for more details to help find suitable roles for people, such as whether they want to work in the area they live in, or which care areas they might be interested in. There is a single point of access for all applications, which are sifted by the internal team, regardless of whether people are applying for council or external provider roles. Candidates are then forwarded for interview, with teams advised to move quickly and be flexible around their needs, such as hours of work.

Targeting the messaging

The team wanted to use genuine people and workers in the videos, to make it look real but also to make the job look fun. They featured, among others, younger workers, who would talk about how they ended up in their role, to show a career path to others:

“We tried to show people do a range of things, not sitting having a cup of tea. So a man being supported to go fishing, a lady learning to cook, people out in the park, another lady enjoying rebound therapy on the trampoline. Things you might not expect. We wanted the message to be, ‘the job’s really fun’. But we also list the full range of tasks that the job entails.”

The films were complemented by in-person events for services and units that were particularly hard to recruit to. For example, a drop-in day was organised for one unit which supports people with autism and other complex needs. This enabled potential candidates to meet the staff and the people there.

Who was involved?

  • During the drop-in days, the team involved the staff and residents to meet prospective job seekers. One resident would show people round, and was also involved in the interview for his new personal assistant.
  • The council has significantly increased the numbers of placements to support their targeting of younger people to a career in care. For example, the number of T Level/BTech placements increased from 26 in 2022 to 92 in 2023, organising more than 200 placements for students in college in 2023/4. The placements are hosted either by in house social care teams or commissioned care providers.
  • The council runs a regular one-day training session on taking an asset-based approach to supporting people to live a full life. It is delivered by service managers and passionate volunteer hosts. This is delivered to all adult social care staff in the council and care providers. The team is currently exploring how best to roll the training out to health partners who are keen for staff to understand and embrace the approach.

What was the impact?

  • An evaluation of the initial Care to Join Us campaign, which ran between November 2021 – March 2022, showed that it led to:
    • 7,500 web visits and 9,500 page views
    • 361 applications, plus 68 through a staff ‘recommend a friend’ promotion
    • 136 interviews, leading to 40 job offers
    • Average spend of £75 per applicant, compared to the regional average of £350.
    • This compares to the same time last year of 15-20 applications per month, resulting in 1-2 appointments.
  • More men have been recruited, due in large part to featuring more men in the films and photographs. Nearly all of the new starters are new to the sector, “so we’re not poaching them from elsewhere.”
  • The team has produced a number of case studies to profile the journey and career path taken by some of its employees:

Anthony's story

“I’m an army veteran and love to support and serve others. Having lived experience of mental health and post traumatic stress disorder, I wanted a job where I could use my experience to make a difference to their lives.”

Five months later, Anthony applied for a team leader role.

The interview was not what I was expecting, it felt like the panel wanted to know about me as a person. They were interested in what motivates me, my interests and passion to support and lead others.” Anthony


What makes it good?

  • Capturing impact through data and stories: The team conducted an internal evaluation of the impact of the initial campaign, and continue to monitor its impact. Personal stories of the care workers, and involving people in recruitment activities, bring the jobs to life.
  • Targeting specific audiences: The brand and website have been complemented by targeted and personalised approaches, such as aiming at younger people, male workers, and people seeking a change in career.
  • Living the values: The council values extend beyond the recruitment process and into how staff are managed, supported and appraised throughout their employment:

Our values are being accountable, courageous, confident to take positive risks, and kind, and having asset-based conversations. This comes through the interview processes, but also through the management and appraisal process once you start.” A council representative


Further information


Wigan Council Care to Join Us


Caroline Hardman, Programme Manager, Adult Social Care and Health, Wigan Council

Emal: [email protected]