Health boss vows to 'tackle health inequality' across Northamptonshire by 'empowering communities' through new programme

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"It gives power back to local communities, involving their populations in discussions and solutions around public health and wellbeing."

Public Health Northamptonshire (PHN) has vowed to 'tackle health inequalities' across the county through a new programme that 'empowers communities'.

PHN said it welcomes the government’s commitment to set out its strategy to tackle the core drivers of health inequalities this year through a Health Disparities white paper.

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This intention, along with those in the government's White paper Levelling Up, fits with a recently launched project within both unitary authorities the Well Northants Programme, PHN said.

Lucy Wightman, director of Public Health Northamptonshire.Lucy Wightman, director of Public Health Northamptonshire.
Lucy Wightman, director of Public Health Northamptonshire.

The Well Northants Programme has been put in place to work with communities in Northamptonshire who are most at risk of health inequalities, to understand their needs, map existing support, and identify community health and wellbeing needs.

Six community development workers have been recruited and are already working either embedded in communities in Corby, Kettering, Wellingborough and Northampton, or with inclusion health groups.

Empowering communities is central to this programme, PHN says, which is why a participatory budgeting model, directly involving communities in making decisions about how to spend public money, is being used.

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The community development workers will have access to a pot of money to issue grants which will be used to put in place interventions to address local need, designed in partnership with those communities.

The first phase of the programme, now underway, is about engaging with local communities and key stakeholders. This work is being used to develop local action plans, with grants which will be used fund projects within implement these.

Lucy Wightman, director of PHN, said: “This programme is key to addressing health inequalities. It gives power back to local communities, involving their populations in discussions and solutions around public health and wellbeing.

“By empowering these communities they can become more connected, more resilient and involved in improving their health and wellbeing.

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“There is strong evidence that this community assets based approach can address inequalities and will support the levelling up agenda as set out in this week’s white paper.

"West Northamptonshire Council’s Anti-Poverty Strategy and North Northamptonshire Council’s focus on Levelling Up mean both Councils have a strong commitment to the Well Northants Project.

“This is an exciting programme that presents an opportunity to engage with our most vulnerable residents, to empower local communities to take action to improve their wellbeing.

"It presents both Unitary Councils with opportunities to learn about a new way of working with communities which then has the potential to be expanded to other areas in Northamptonshire.”