Highlights of the ‘Health without Wealth’ event from Councillor Lisa Mulherin, Chair of the Health and Wellbeing Board.
Many people are familiar with the problems caused by poverty, and the way that it can blight the lives of people of all ages through no fault of their own. Equally, most of us understand that health is a hugely important part of everyone’s life, potentially impacting on our ability to live fulfilling and contented lives. However, the strong links between health and wealth are less well known and so the Health and Wellbeing Board sponsored an event on Wednesday 4 December which brought together health and care professionals, local authority staff, third sector organisations and partners from the city’s universities and colleges. They were able to hear from national speakers who work at the heart of the poverty, health and inequalities agenda:
- Ruth Passman – Deputy Director, Equality and Health Inequalities, Equality and Health Inequalities, NHS England),
- Dr Emma Stone – (Director of Policy, Joseph Rowntree Foundation) and
- Damian Allen – (Director of Children and Families, The Children’s Society)
At the heart of the event was a realisation that we need to find practical and innovative ways to be more responsive to the challenges of poor health and poverty. Our panel of experts spoke about the impact of cuts to Local Authority budgets and the importance of tackling poverty to reduce health inequalities. The links with our plans for integration of health and care were clear – though the challenge ahead of us is immense.
The Health and Wellbeing Board are actively trying to find ways to reduce the gap in health outcomes in the city between the best off and worst off parts of Leeds and to support more people back into work and healthy employment. 35,000 children are living in poverty in Leeds and a life expectancy gap of 12 years between the most and least deprived wards in the city is unacceptable. The effect of poverty on the health of residents of all ages is a real and major challenge which we are committed to tackling, taking ownership of the important decisions which will make this happen and making sure that those who use our services and need our support are actively engaged with what we do.
The challenge ahead in tackling this issue is enormous. We can only make a difference by all partners taking some ownership and by working together to achieve our common goal. The commitment of all the partners who attended the event to tackle poverty and health inequalities in Leeds was inspiring, and it was a great building block for future work to tackle the evils of poverty and ill health.
I would like to say a big thank you to our guest speakers and for the powerful performance by Dance Action Zone Leeds (DAZL) who showed us that we can be creative too in our efforts to get health messages across and engage young people in this process in a challenging, but fun and thought-provoking way.
Overcrowded, a video case study filmed by Joseph Rowntree Foundation highlighting the realities of living in poverty.
The Joseph Rowntree Foundation have extensive resources detailing poverty data and information at http://www.jrf.org.uk/
More information about the Children’s Society is at: http://www.childrenssociety.org.uk/