Working with Communities

Why work with communities?

Communities, both place-based and where people share a common identity have a vital contribution to make to health and wellbeing.  Community life, social connections, supportive relationships and having a voice in local decisions are all factors that underpin good health.  The existing 'resources' (or assets) within communities, such as the skills and knowledge, social networks, local groups and community organisations, are all building blocks for good health. 

Many people already contribute to community life through volunteering, community leadership and activism.  Community empowerment occurs when people work together to shape the decisions that influence their lives and health and begin to create a more equal society.

This is not about a DIY approach to health; there are important roles for the NHS, local councils and their partners in creating safe and supportive places, helping people to cope better with life's ups and downs and supporting individuals and communities to take more control of their own health and lives.

 

Community-centred approaches for health and wellbeing

Approaches How do they work? Examples
Strengthening Communities People come together to identify local issues, think of solutions and create long-lasting, meaningful action. Community capacity building, community development, asset-based methods, community organising, social network approaches and time banking.
Volunteering and peer roles Community members use their life experience and social connections to reach out to others.  Peer support, peer education, health trainers, health champions, community navigators, befriending and volunteer schemes such as health walks.
Collaborations and partnerships These approaches involve communities and local services working together for things like planning and funding. Involving people leads to more appropriate, equal and effective services. Community-based participatory research, area based initiatives, Healthy Cities, area forums, participatory budgeting and co-production projects.
Access to community resources These approaches connect individuals and families to community resources, practical help, group activities and volunteering opportunities to meet health needs and increase social participation.  Social prescribing, green gyms, community hubs in libraries and faith settings, healthy living centres, and community-based commissioning.

       

Summary

  • Local councils, together with the NHS, and voluntary sector, have vital roles to play in building confident and connected communities as part of efforts to improve health and reduce health inequalities

  • Community-centred approaches to health look to build upon the existing resources (assets) within communities, promote equality and increase people’s control over their health and lives

  • There is a wide range of practical, evidence-based approaches that can be used by local leaders, as well as those who fund and provide services to work with communities. These are grouped into: strengthening communities; volunteer and peer roles; collaborations and partnerships; access to community resources

 

For more information visit Public Health England

 

 

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