The Civic Hall recently hosted a gathering of like minds and committed partners who are part of ‘Better Together’.
With an underpinning commitment to building ‘Healthy Communities and Healthy Lives’, Better Together is the name of the new locality community health development and improvement service for Leeds.
Better Together service providers will link with other local partners to improve health and reduce health inequality by targeting and focusing support on individuals and groups living in the ten per cent most deprived neighbourhoods in the city. Councillor Rebecca Charlwood, Chair of Leeds Health and Wellbeing Board, tells us more…
The Better Together service will be delivered city wide in areas broadly matching the clinical commissioning group (CCG) areas, with a consortium led by Feel Good Factor in East North East; one led by Health for All in South and East; and a single provider, BARCA, in West North West.
At the heart of the new work is a commitment to the vision outlined in the Leeds Health and Wellbeing Strategy (2016-21) – that Leeds will be a healthy and caring city for all ages, where people who are the poorest will improve their health the fastest.
There is a particular focus on two outcomes:
- People will live longer and healthier lives, and
- People will live in healthier and sustainable communities.
The service will focus primarily on the wider determinants of health – the things in society which influence health. It will use a community development approach to work with individuals, groups and communities to see what local needs are and then make sure appropriate support and interventions are provided.
The city used to have 14 mainly lifestyle focused contracts delivered by 11 separate providers. There were individual monitoring arrangements, expertise wasn’t shared as well as it might have been and this had an impact on the opportunities to tackle challenges in a co-ordinated way.
The new arrangements will see three area based contracts, focussed on tackling the social issues that impact on health. There’ll be more support for individual’s capacity to act and strengthen access to services, as well as support for healthy behaviour, lifestyle change and improving health protection.
We believe this will be a better way to build sustainable and resilient communities.
The new service will focus primarily on issues that lead to poor health, such as poverty, unemployment, relationships and housing issues and use a community development approach to work with individuals, groups and communities to identify local needs and work with them to find appropriate support and interventions that can help them improve their situation.
This will be a bespoke service-for the individual, for the group and for the community. It will seek to meet the needs of those who, for whatever reason have found it hard to help themselves. It may deliver physical activity sessions, such as walking groups, exercise or cooking classes, when these meet the citizen’s needs.
However, the service is just as likely to help people gain valuable work related skills, such as improving language and communication skills, developing volunteers, encouraging interaction with other groups and helping people to improve their confidence to look for work by developing their CV.
Importantly the service will help people in local areas to identify and together start to tackle the local issues that affect their health and wellbeing. In time this will build strong support networks on which people can draw, during challenging times.
By building community capacity, increasing social capital and strengthening individual and community resilience, both individuals and groups can take more control over their own health and help build sustainable communities.
This will not necessarily be easy, but there is plenty of evidence of things which can make a difference. By using best practice and working closely with communities and individuals to support them appropriately with evidence based action, we are sure we can make progress. At the same time a secondary focus will look at promoting healthy lifestyles and protecting health within communities, reflecting the Change4Life and One You Public Health campaigns.
The service will connect with and use a full range of interdependent services and assets available in the local communities. These will help to strengthen infrastructure for personal skill development, language skills, capacity, work readiness and personal resilience. As well as this, delivery will be based on identified community need, for instance empowering large numbers of people to address a common health and wellbeing concern.
We know the assets available are not just buildings and funds, but there are a huge range of community and human assets too.
This is health improvement for and by communities, and it will be a crucial part of the future health strategy for Leeds as individuals are supported to play a greater role in their own health improvement. It is part of the wide range of activity across the city helping people look after their own health, helping us look after each other and making the most of the strengths and assets we all have as individuals and communities – better together.