Addressing the UK's challenges

The Churchill Fellowship supports UK citizens from all parts of society to travel the world in search of innovative solutions for today’s most pressing problems: 

  1. Fellowships cover the key issues that face UK society at any time.
  2. We identify emerging issues through our Open award category. 
  3. We build networks of Fellows in common topics to magnify their impact.

Covering the key issues in UK society

Churchill Fellows are selected for two outstanding qualities: the power of their ideas and their potential to be change-makers. We pride ourselves on recognising individual talent and responding to the vision of Fellows from every walk of life. This gives us an unrivalled reach across the questions facing society and the people likely to answer them.

At the same time, we ensure that our work overall impacts on the whole spectrum of issues facing UK society. We do this by offering a range of subject categories in which candidates can apply. These cover the crucial concerns of the day, and range across seven overarching themes: communities, culture, education, economy, environment, health, and science and technology.

Each year we will offer one or more categories within each of our themes. For example, in 2018 the communities theme is represented in two Fellowship categories: rural living and migration. Up to 12 categories are offered each year, usually with 10 Fellows in each.

Focusing in this way allows the Fellowship to develop expertise and presence in those particular sectors, so that we can reach the widest range of candidates and spread their findings to the greatest number of practitioners.

Identifying new issues

We keep our coverage of crucial issues up to date by constantly developing new categories within each theme. We also maintain an Open category, which accepts proposals on any topic whatsoever, provided they can be shown to have a tangible public benefit when the Fellow returns home.

The Open category is particularly important, as it alerts us to new ideas and issues that applicants may have spotted before anyone else. This keeps us ahead of the curve and often informs us of growing concerns that might then become a dedicated category of their own.

This combination of focus from us, and ideas from applicants, ensures that our actual range of Fellowships year on year is effectively universal - in the Fellows themselves and the topics they explore.

For example, in 2018 we announced a new award category around suicide prevention and bereavement. This issue has been little studied in the UK, but we were alerted to its importance by a cluster of Fellows in other categories whose work touched on it. We researched the field, found an ideal partner in the Samaritans, and are pleased to now be addressing this under-reported crisis.

In contrast, our arts and crafts awards usually focus on a particular genre whose practitioners need immediate support or could benefit from learning overseas. This has included ‘threatened’ crafts like tapestry and bronze casting, as well as cutting-edge design Fellowships in partnership with the British Council that have taken Fellows to the Amazon, Hong Kong and New York.

Magnifying impact through networks

In every issue that we focus on, we aim to fund a cohort of Fellows over several years, developing a bank of expertise and contacts that can be accessed by all. We network Fellows on common topics, hold conferences on their specialisms, and help them to jointly brief policy-makers in their issues. Fellows’ reports on common topics are also grouped together in the library area of our website, where anyone can access their global insights on specific issues.

Over time this has built into a cadre of knowledge leaders across the UK who are able to rise to new challenges and contribute to the progress of the nation. Today there are 3,500 active Fellows across the country, tackling a vast range of current topics whether local or national - dynamic people devoted to the public good.