The pandemic highlighted the extent of health inequality in the UK, and it showed this hits our most deprived areas the hardest. In fact, more than 50% of residents in disadvantaged regions report poor health by the time they are aged 55 to 59 – more than two decades earlier than people living in the UK’s least deprived areas. This is unfair and avoidable, revealing longstanding, interlinked social and economic challenges – especially in diverse and unequal urban areas.
Through the Living Roots programme, The Young Foundation is working with Ealing Council, NHS North West London, Southall Community Alliance, Voices of Colour, and the Institute of Development Studies to build understanding of health inequity. The project works towards a new community asset and research partnership in the London borough of Ealing.
Running until the end of July 2023, the Living Roots programme uses participatory and ‘creative health’ processes to explore:
- how community organisations and stakeholders understand and experience health inequity and what their priorities for action are
- existing local assets, organisations and partnerships
- how the NHS and local government can build trust and work in partnership with voluntary and community organisations to improve health for local populations
- how a community asset and research partnership to improve health equity in Ealing could be developed and sustained.
‘Lessons from lockdown’
The programme will map community assets and actors; conduct consultations to understand barriers and discuss ways to improve health services; train and support community champions; and run a ‘reverse mentoring’ programme to link local government and NHS professionals with community experiences and perspectives.
Jenny Barke, Peer Research Lead at The Young Foundation says: “As we emerge from the pandemic, it’s vital we work together to learn lessons from our experiences through the lockdowns, and tackle health inequality, bringing people, services and policy-influencers together. While we may not be able to predict or control future health emergencies, we can shape a fairer society in which all citizens – regardless of their location, circumstance, background or identity – face comparable challenges and are supported”.