Changing the conversation about health


CoM Tags:

community, Brian Fisher, medicine, healthcare,

 cinnamon150x HELP bring residents and services together to create stronger communities, improved services and better health and wellbeing. It supports communities, community groups, practitioners, Clinical Commissioning Groups, Health and Wellbeing Boards and other public services to empower and transform neighbourhoods with the toughest challenges and the highest health and social spending.It aims to implement and support the approach of community development in health and to demonstrate the value to health of asset-based community development.
Year established
Number of staff
4 volunteers
Number of users
100s each year
Project user demographics
We generally work with residents of areas chosen by the NHS or the local authority as being poor and deprived.
What makes your project sustainable?
We do almost all our management work online, generating no paper. We only spend what we earn. We meet as often remotely as we do face to face, reducing travelling and environmental costs.
Quotes from service users


 Examples of change and residents’ experience can be seen in this document and in this film.


InnovativeAlthough the project uses an established reproducible approach which has been employed in a small number of projects over a period of 12 years. , it applies it to the field of health in ways that have not been done before. It aims no less than a total change in the way that the NHS relates to the communities it serves.Problems it solves. It works with the community to improve its own capabilities and thus its health.

Working well
Working in areas designated as disadvantaged by a CCG, a CD worker uses a seven-step process to listen to the community describing the good and bad things about living in their area.

The group worked in three areas, two urban and one semi-rural. In each, by bringing existing skills and strengths together, local leaders appeared, a resident-led partnership was built up and discussions with statutory agencies began. In Devon, this brought police, dental services, play services and housing together. Within six months of hard cooperation, services began to change. The police reported crime dropping as a result of the partnership. New groups began, serving local needs. Funding was drawn in from outside the area for new projects.

Much of this change is the result of asset-based working. In Devon, the assets were the residents, the agencies and physical things particularly the open space which they turned into a park. All these things were there, but up to that point had all been seen as problems. The process turned them around and connected them up.

Not so well
Some councillors felt the work cut across their responsibilities. It was sometimes difficult to involve the NHS in the work. And on one occasion, a local group, despite having successfully negotiated significant local housing improvements, became rather overbearing to its own residents. This is not uncommon. The development of community groups and neighbourhood partnerships, like any other form of development, involves problems and issues which have to be patiently worked through. Residents who get actively involved are on a steep learning curve. The solution is usually the involvement of a wider group of residents who bring further influence to bear.

Patient-Centred, whole person preventative approach


I think we would see ourselves as primarily being community-centred. Obviously this involves paying attention to the needs and experience of individuals who make up that community. The drive and design of the programme is to stay relentlessly focused on the lived experience and the issues raised by residents and not to be driven by the needs and wants of the statutory agencies.The whole approach is focused on prevention. The evidence strongly suggests that building and strengthening social networks protects people’s health substantially.

Evidence informed practice/audit and evaluation


The project was initially funded by the DH to explore the cost-benefit of community development in health. We therefore have a great deal of evaluation data on our website In addition there is a literature search which summarises the evidence for the health benefits of community development.
Multi-disciplinary collaboration, communication and professional practice
The project is built on cross-sector collaboration. By working with the assets of the community, leaders appear and the community gains enough strength to begin negotiating with the statutory agencies relevant to that area. It is through the residents that collaboration and communication is forged. We have repeatedly found that resident partnerships bring together statutory agencies such as police, health, fire services who have never met each other before. And, of course, residents make links with each other too.It is this process of deepening links of local people with each other as well as empowering them to take more control over their lives and environment that leads to more resilience and health protection.In the last year, HELP has focused more on working at national level to change policy to make the commissioning of this sort of work easier. For the ideas of community development in health to become a more normal part of NHS business. One route to that is through promoting the Charter for Community Development in Health which can be found here. We shall be working with Public Health England over the next year to provide a series of regional meetings exploring these issues and how local teams can implement this kind of work. The Charter can be found here
Contact details
100 Erlanger Road
SE14 5THt: 07949595349