Here’s an interesting report – interesting not only for its contents but for the collaborative way in which it was compiled. Some lessons here perhaps for our Prudent Healthcare strategy – and its implementation. The report emphasises the importance of: building social capital, working with the third sector, communities co-creating and co-delivering services, harnessing community assets and using place-based approaches. Community-led health approaches have empowerment at their core, establishing the priorities of communities and, together with communities, developing ways of addressing these priorities. Moreover community-led health organisations tend to have the knowhow and experience when it comes to building people’s confidence and skills to enable them to take part in improving the health of their communities. Community-led approaches also help to tackle power inequalities that can only be challenged if people have control over their lives and what happens in their communities.
New research suggests that initiatives aimed at addressing the structural causes of health inequalities in Scotland are far more effective than those aimed at changing individual behaviours. This is important information to inform new social investments.
Here’s an interesting blog post – a critique of a recent North of England analysis on how best to tackle health inequalities. The original report acknowledges that “the most disadvantaged members of society lack influence over how public resources are used” and recommends that their influence needs to be increased through “shared power over resources”. Nothing to complain about there, but the author is unconvinced that anything will actually change on the ground…”The credibility of any proposal to shift power from Westminster or to redress inequality rests on our ability to demonstrate that we can deliver these powerful relationships with citizens. We have to recognise that we need to put our own house in order, a culture change is required at local level too. And we need to avoid leaping in to our usual behaviour of renewing neighbourhood committees, laying on a bit of community capacity building, providing some better information and then saying job done.”
Communities First is a Welsh Government programme targeting Wales’ highest areas of deprivation. It aims to support communities across three themes – learning, health and prosperity. Its aim is to reduce inequalities in Wales experienced by individuals living in these communities by providing increased opportunities to access learning, improve health and maintain a living income.
One ECLP (East Cardiff, Llanedeyrn and Pentwyn) Communities First project has created a team of ‘Health Champions’ and aims to build closer connections between health services and communities so as to achieve better health outcomes. When people have a greater awareness of where they can seek help, for example with stopping smoking or their mental health, it allows them to feel enabled and part of the solution. We began the “Health Champions” project to both work with active community members who have an interest in health issues, and to train them to ensure the information they provide to the wider community is reliable and consistent. This approach means that local people get key messages and helpful advice from those they trust and avoids any barriers that may exist to accessing traditional health services.
Following identification of the interests and needs of the group we have put together a training package focusing on the issues that matter most in their area. Over a period of six weeks, a range of providers including Public Health Wales, Stop Smoking Wales, Screening Services and Cardiff MIND (a mental health charity) presented key information on healthy lifestyles and choices to the group. The training package helped the group to gain a broader understanding of health issues and how to support and signpost people who need help, but it also gave them an opportunity to consider what more they wanted to do in the role. Since the training began in spring 2014, it has led to the Health Champions being involved in the following:
. Organising community events with our support
. Supporting our range of activities through volunteering
. Making a short presentation on health messages at Wales’ Patient Information Forum conference
. Some accredited training in a health-related subject
. Becoming qualified tutors for our nutrition projects
More information on ECLP Communities First can be found at eclp.org.uk/voices. If you would like to find out more about this project in particular, please contact Helen Green, 07969 185037 or Helen.G@c3sc.org.uk.
David Lammy on the Huffington Post
“Ultimately, wellbeing evidence encourages us to rethink economic success. Progress is not just about ever-rising incomes, as the obsession with GDP figures implies – particularly if the lion’s share of this growth goes to the already well-off. It’s about giving everyone the security and stability of a decent job with a decent wage. And it’s no longer enough, if it ever was, to simply go for growth and hope that ‘a rising tide will lift all boats’. Instead, we need to address head-on the things that are really holding back national wellbeing: insecurity, poverty and inequality. It’s now more important than ever that we learn the lessons of the crisis and build a high wellbeing recovery.”
“We draw on the rich contributions of other organisations working on these issues and gather insights from nef’s existing work – for example, on well-being, on economic inequalities, and on the links between social justice and environmental sustainability. We want this project to provoke fresh thinking and discussion, and to be connected to people across the UK who are working for change. We hope you will respond and let us know what you think of the ideas as they emerge. Working papers, blogs and news of events will be posted on our website and you can join in the discussion on Twitter @nefSocialPolicy#futurewelfare.” More details of the project here.
No to Competing Services – Yes to Human Rights
Sami Helle explains how tendering rules are encouraging an inhuman approach to services for people with intellectual disabilities, in a talk given at the EU Parliament in Brussels on 13th November 2013.