This is a blog about local democracy and health.
The premise of this blog is that we could be better at improving health and well being and reducing health inequalities if we fostered a more collaborative relationship with citizens and communities – particularly those who experience the highest level of disadvantage.
A collaborative relationship – means one that recognises that any dialogue about health or equality has to be one that is also about power; how it is used, shared, controlled and influenced.
The blog documents actions, reflections and ideas as they emerge.
Strangely enough the coalition government was better at articulating some of the issues that we need to address than recent Labour Governments.
Ideas like “the Big Society”, localism and decentralisation did give new impetus to the debate about community control, rolling back the state, personal responsibility, empowerment and so forth. Of course since I started this blog the rhetoric and initiatives of previous governments fade away – no one in the Teresa May’s government talks about Big Society anymore.
Ironically, a lot of the thinking and experience that informs current policy (MINDSPACE – Nudge; Community Champions – part of the Big Society; Local Area Agreements – Localism etc etc were developed by programmes started by the previous Labour Government or even before that.
So, we now have a strange situation where local services – in particular local government are under vicious attack. With the aggressive promotion of marketisation and of the strange concept of accountability driven through “choice” – how on earth is that meant to happen?
At the same time thinkers and activists from the distant and more recent past like Saul Alinksy and Paolo Friere have new currency – with powerful ideas about how to be effective active citizens.