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National Think Tank Programme – Active Communities for Health

As I flagged up earlier the Second National Think Tank – Active Communities for Health was held last week on the 6th of June.

The programme aims to develop a “stronger national dialogue on how we can work together to activate the full potential of our communities to improve health and well being. It builds on the February 2011 event organised by the sadly missed Health Inequalities National Support Team – which DH appears to be walking away from.

The February session had allow us to share experiences and practice with the intention of building a common understanding of challenges and opportunities. At this second session jointly hosted by Altogether Better and Leeds Beckett University’s People in Public Health Programme we aimed to identify common goals and actions to promote this agenda.

The session was chaired by Jane South from Leeds Metropolitan University – with inputs from Cllr Jan Smithies – who has led on community engagement for the DH Health Inequalities National Support Team and Trevor Hopkins who works with LGID and has led on the development of work on Asset Mapping – informed by John McKnights ABCD work in the states – Alinksy again.

The event had strong cross England attendance from a range of interesting organisations and individuals with a track record and commitment to this work. They included people like:

There were plenty of others – the point is that we have the beginning of a strong and inclusive network. Some themes emerged:

First, we know that there are plenty of examples of excellent practice at a local level although much of it is not whole system – but some is!

Second, there is an almost complete absence of this agenda at a mainstream national policy level in DH.

Third, there are quite of lot of opportunities – such as:

Fourth we were clear that the urgent job was to identify which strategically important practical tasks we could get on with that would deliver 3 immediate objectives.

There was a reasonable consensus that we should not spend too much time grinding out complex terms of reference and organisational structures – we need something that is light on its feet.

While the final notes are still to be written up some of the things that emerged for me included:

So – I think a really good start – some great connections made and our journey gathers pace.

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