David Robinson is co-chair of our board and founded We Are What We Do, the social movement inspiring people to use their everyday actions to affect social change, from which Shift evolved as an independent organisation.

David was an early advocate of using behavioural insights as a tool for tackling social issues and was a social innovator before the term became widely used. Whilst Shift has gradually adapted its approach to become a very different kind of organisation to We Are What We Do, David’s ambition to drive mass behaviour change and create solutions that appeal to their users remains, like David himself, at the heart of our work.

David is a community worker and the community development lead on our Relationships Project. He has founded and led several other organisations including Community Links, the Children’s Discovery Centre and Changing London. He led the Prime Minister’s Council on Social Action for Gordon Brown and the original London Advisory Board for what is now the National Lottery Community fund. His policy work has been recognised with an honorary doctorate from the Open University and he was the first Practitioner in Residence at the LSE’s Marshall Institute. David is an Ashoka Senior Fellow and was once described by the Guardian as “the godfather of the community sector, equally admired on the left and right”.


Connecting Well

David Robinson is Shift’s founder and a community worker in east London. He is currently exploring new work on social isolation at the Marshall Institute. This is the first in a series of blogs.

Unconditional Leadership

David Robinson eloquently and honestly distils 35 years experience of starting and building inspiring local, national and international charities and social enterprises, drawing out lessons on unleashing people’s potential that have application across business and government.



Active Neighbours: Understanding the experiences of Covid volunteers

March 10, 2021

A field guide from the Relationships Project, presenting five ‘types’ of Covid volunteers and key considerations for supporting them to carry on caring.

Turning to the Light: Looking back and looking forward after one year of Covid

March 8, 2021

Reflecting on what we’ve learnt from one year of Covid, this report makes the case for reflection and recuperation, and then for building energetically on the many positives from this period.

Relationship Makers Impact Report

December 18, 2020

Drawing together our learning from a twelve week peer learning programme with a cohort of community businesses committed to building better relationships.

The Moment We Noticed: The Relationships Observatory & Learning from 100 Days of Lockdown

July 7, 2020

Bringing together learning from 50+ contributors after 100 days of lockdown, this report explores how we can build back better post-Covid, with stronger connections and relationships.

The Relationship-Centred City: Building a better London by building better relationships

March 13, 2020

A report from the Relationships Project unearths learning for cities the world over.

Case studies: relationship-centred practice

February 2, 2020

A collection of inspiring examples of relationship-centred practice from across the UK.

VIDEO: The You and Me Principle

October 9, 2018

How relationships change the world and where to go with what we know. Film of lecture by David Robinson.


October 1, 2002

Paper exploring new methods in behaviour change.

David Robinson


Changing London will help to change lives
The Guardian, November 2013