We were asked to develop a new recruitment campaign by North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) for its Community First Responder scheme, a voluntary programme that sees members of the public trained to respond to incidents in their local community where first-aid and more advanced training is required to help the patient before ambulance crews arrive.

The objective of the campaign was to gain 50 new volunteers across the North West region, in both rural and urban areas. Whilst the target may seem low, the process of becoming a first-responder is quite rigorous, which normally dissuades many from applying.

Cornerstone set-out to create a brand look, feel and message for the recruitment campaign that was not only on-brand but also engaging to the target audience, making volunteering look, sound and seem exciting.

NWAS Hero Next Door


The campaign was research-backed through focus groups and telephone interviews to ensure detailed insight into why volunteers sign-up and the benefits they gain. This insight was then used to carefully craft all messaging to the target audience to ensure increased engagement and conversion.

Cornerstone developed the theme ‘Hero Next Door’ alongside the NWAS marketing department, with a headline asking the public “Could you be the hero next door?”

With engaging illustrations, graphic design and content from Cornerstone, the campaign was a primarily digitally-led on social media channels, PPC and web, supported by basic PR and outdoor banners on ambulance stations.

NWAS Hero Next Door


Key objectives were to increase the number of people registering their interest to become a Community First Responder by 200 per cent, increase hits on the first responder’s microsite by 40 per cent; and increase the number of first responders in the east Lancashire area by 25.

With a modest budget, the campaign results far-exceeded NWAS’ expectations. In the first week alone, NWAS received 500 requests from the public, which was ten times the entire campaign target.  NWAS also saw large increases in social media and website engagement.

The Community First Responder microsite had 2,700 unique visitors after the launch of the campaign in August 2017 with over 10,000 page views, a rise of 58 per cent.

The ambulance service answered 716 email enquiries, of which 558 were in the target catchment area for recruiting. This was an increase 1,700 per cent compared to the previous period for emails received.

The success of this campaign saw us shortlisted in the ‘Big Bang’ category at the 2018 MPA Inspiration Awards , for achieving big results on a small budget.


The campaign was so popular that NWAS had to put in on-hold for a second phase. Within just two months, NWAS had 23 completed volunteer applications for the Lancashire area, 19 for Greater Manchester, 17 for Cumbria and nine for Cheshire, with more due.

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NWAS Hero Next Door
NWAS Hero Next Door

Cornerstone DM