David founded our organisation in 2004, setting up a social movement that inspired people to use their everyday actions to affect social change. 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 we’ve gradually adapted our approach to become a very different kind of organisation, 10 years on his ambition to drive mass behaviour change remains at the heart of our work. He remains Chair of our Board.

David lives and works in the London Borough of Newham, where he set up Community Links, a groundbreaking inner-city charity that delivers practical projects in East London, influences organisations across the UK and contributes to government policy.

He leads the Early Action Task Force at Community Links, working across sectors to tackle the question "How do we build a society that prevents problems from occurring rather than one that deals with the consequences?"

He is also a leading figure in social finance, an architect of the Social Impact Bond, chair of the Social Impact Bond advisory group, and a trustee of the Big Society Bank. He was also a founder of the Children's Discovery Centre. David's policy work has been recognised with an honorary doctorate from the Open University and he was named as a Morgan Stanley Great Briton for his contribution to public life.

He led the Prime Minister’s Council on Social Action for Gordon Brown and previously worked with the then Chancellor on the book - "Britain's Everyday Heroes". More recently he set up Changing London to improve the impact of the London mayor.

If he were to begin again, David claims he would find a circus that could use a magician with more enthusiasm than talent. As it is this is a half forgotten hobby which gets very little attention from a full time community worker and father of three.


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.




October 1, 2002

Paper exploring new methods in behaviour change.

David Robinson



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