Changing the conversation about health

Bromley By Bow Centre

  The Bromley by Bow Centre is an innovative healthy living centre working in one of the most deprived boroughs in the UK. The Centre works with local people to empower them and transform the community. The Centre supports people in reaching their potential through a range of programmes that build collective and individual skills and capacities. Our aim is to remove the label ‘deprived’ from our community.
Year established
Number of staff
Paid Staff (FT equivalent)75, 25 Volunteers
Number of users
Is there a charge to users?
Almost all services are free.
What makes your project sustainable?
We have developed a long term business strategy and sustainability policy.  These are available on request.
The Bromley by Bow Centre was established under the premise that people’s lives and the ‘life’ of the community encompass many interconnected aspects. We believe that only through understanding the complex and interrelated nature of these and supporting their development, can effective change be achieved.Tower Hamlets, and in particular the Bromley by Bow neighbourhood, presents significant challenges in terms of the levels of disadvantage and deprivation and the Centre seeks to address these through working with local people and partners to design and deliver a comprehensive range of services and local provision. We have built a responsive network of institutions and teams that support individual’s needs, their development and community regeneration.We consider the manner in which services are developed and delivered is critically important if they are to achieve the intention of developing community capacity and empowerment.

The Centre delivers a significant range of services to over 5,000 people each year including:

  • Community Development
  • Public health programme
  • Social care programme
  • Mental health projects
  • Social welfare, legal advice, fuel poverty and financial capability
  • Skills and employment
  • Social enterprise start-up programme
The Bromley by Bow Centre works across its locality to involve local people in the development and delivery of all its services. We work closely with local people to both design services in response to community demand and the expressed needs and aspirations of local people. Programmes and projects are further developed and delivered with a high degree of user involvement and input. We are currently embedding enhanced systems for co-producing and evaluating our services. These systems support processes of increasing community capability through community involvement in service design, development and implementation. Our programmes are developed under the principles of proportionate universality.
The Bromley by Bow Centre has based its core services on the needs of the local population as defined by a number of key indicators including local health indicators (on areas related to public health, lifestyle, wellbeing and mental health and clinical health), and indicators relating to the social determinants of health, including control over one’s life, poverty, skills, employment, social connections, housing conditions, indebtedness etc.The Centre’s programmes seek to link clinical health as delivered in a primary care practice, with a range of provision that supports healthy lifestyles, wellbeing and mental health improvement with a range of programmes that support the improvements in the social determinants of health.The Centre’s programmes are accessed through self-referrals and referrals from a wide range of frontline professionals including those of our integrated Health Centre. Health Centre staff refer patients to services that support the wider determinants of health through social prescribing programme. In 2013 our Social Prescribing programme was extended to include 5 further health centres, covering 30,000 patients.

Each programme and project carries out a range of evaluation processes to measure outcomes, including improvements in health and wellbeing outcomes, lifestyle changes, and increases in knowledge, skills, confidence and self-esteem. Other outcomes may include increase in income and reduction in debt, the gaining of qualifications and moving in to employment.

The Centre recently conducted a three year evaluation of its work, and the reports are available on request. We are currently embedding enhanced systems for co-producing and evaluating our services.

The Centre and its programmes work from a holistic understanding of people’s lives and the interconnectedness of many aspects of their lives, including their social relations and the environment. Our understanding sees the cause and effect of many factors and the need to work alongside people across various aspects of their lives and to support them in transforming their communities and addressing wider environmental factors.Our staff employ holistic approaches to working with clients, engaging with them around presenting issues, aspirations and more fundamental and causal issues.Our holistic understanding of people’s lives has led to the development of a range of integrated services in which interdisciplinary teams work together, with clients and patients, to design and deliver services, co-constructing an understanding of the fundamental purpose of our joint endeavour.

All our programmes integrate aspects that promote healthy lifestyles and the improvement of the social determinants of health. We deliver extensive health lifestyles programmes, including to those with Long Term Conditions in Tower Hamlets with some elements across 6 boroughs.

Our programmes that support improving the wider social determinants of health include programmes aimed at building social networks and reducing social isolation, welfare, debt, housing and legal advice, money management and fuel poverty, skills and qualifications and employment. Through the longevity of our work in the neighbourhood, over 30 years, and the extensive reach of our provision, over 50% of local households use the Centre’s services, and our close partnerships with local organisations such as social housing providers, children’s centres, schools and other community centres we seek to transform the locality.

Many of our programmes that support improvements in the wider social determinants of health also support the adoption of healthy lifestyles. For example all adult learning provision includes models on healthy lifestyles. Patients attending flu vaccination clinics are screened for vulnerabilities related to fuel poverty and keeping warm in winter and supported by social welfare advisors and financial capability teams.

Contact details
Bromley By Bow Centre
St Leonard’s Street
London E3 3BTt: 07968 567 443