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Mark Gamsu

I believe that central to any action to improve health or reduce health inequalities have to be powerful and active citizens with a strong focus on the social determinants of health and and accountable local leadership with the voluntary and community sector playing a key role.

I’ve worked in the voluntary, local government and national government sectors for quite a long time!

In the 80‘s working for the Federation of Lewisham Tenants and Residents I  ran a successful campaign to remove asbestos from council housing – much of this based on the inspirational work of Alan Dalton – his book Asbestos – Killer Dust – led to tenant campaigns across the country.

While working for Sheffield City Council I worked alongside carers of older people with a learning disability to establish in the late 1990s  the then unique carer led service ‘Sharing Caring’.

Later as the Healthy City Co-ordinator for Sheffield among other things I founded  the successful ‘Chance to Dance Festival’ an annual street dance festival that is part of the Sheffield Festival Calendar and I am currently its chair.

While working for the Regional Public Health Group in Yorkshire and Humber I  established two significant programmes – the first, a collaboration between local authorities in the region to reduce health inequalities – Minding the Gap . The second –  Altogether Better a £7million BIG lottery funded initiative which was developed in partnership with all local authority areas in the region. It has so far trained over 20,000 health champions in some of the most disadvantaged communities in the region. It is not prescriptive; participants have moved on to become activists, volunteers, and to further training and employment. It is now developing community led service models to help people manage diabetes and increase use of initiatives such as NHS Lifecheck.

I also designed and led a successful national strategy for the Department of Health driving forward the development of local Joint Strategic Needs Assessments. Central to this was a strong collaboration with the LGA  and the Voluntary Organisation Disability Group.

Until June 2022 I was a lay member on Sheffield Clinical Commissioning Group. I was the chair of the Strategic Engagement, Experience and Equality Committee and Vice Chair of the Primary Care Commissioning Committee – I also lead alongside a Governing Body GP colleague work on primary care and inequalities. In the last two years of its existence I was also the Deputy Chair.

I have am currently:

  • a professor at Leeds Beckett University focussing on their outward facing work supporting local health systems strengthen their relationship with the public and the voluntary sector.
  • Involved as an activist with a range of voluntary organisations that include:
18 Comments leave one →
  1. Pete Sacker permalink
    June 12, 2011 15:25

    Very good stuff. Its good to see the links to the old luminaries of the 70s!

    I would be interested in your views on personal health (and care) budgets and what roles you see for organisations like Darnall and MHCABs particularly as authorisites facing cuts seem to be discouraging potential receipients to use external advisers/advocates at the same time as restricting “choice” and resources.


    • June 13, 2011 22:08

      Cheers Pete – I am not aware of anyone who has really grasped the link between individuals who use personal care budgets and advocacy and activism. I think that Simon Duffy and the Centre for Welfare Reform are interested in this question. I do think that there is real potential – both in terms of the advocacy and social policy experience of Citizens Advice – empowering individual voice, collectivising it and using this experience as a mechanism to drive change and improvement.

      I do think that the challenge though is how we can be sharper at grass roots level to clearly articulate what the community organisation offer is – I just think that a lot of commissioners don’t understand it enough.

  2. January 15, 2012 16:06

    Hi Mark
    Love the powerful sense of passion and activism that comes through on your blog – and very inspired by the projects you have been involved with. Would be great to meet up sometime so that I could pick your brains…do you ever get down to the green green grass of Wales?

    • January 15, 2012 20:00

      Hi Ruth – thanks for the comments – it would be great to talk – its best to drop me an email – which is my full name – all one word at

  3. Ruksana permalink
    March 7, 2012 21:52

    Hi Mark

    Great to see you are advocating at various levels for a strategic voice for the VCS Sector, not to mention the excellent representation on the various CAB and other voluntary organisations – where do they fit into all the changes in Local Government? Hope they have a voice and a share of the resources! Weren’t the Third Sector going to get a fair share – at the moment it seems far from reality – love the differences between GPs, Coucillors and DPH!


  4. June 1, 2012 12:23

    Hi Mark

    My present feeling (having been working in community empowerment internationally for a few years) in the context of Gvt is that advocating for bottom-up approaches/civil society voices etc is too insipid -given the constraints of funding, professional competency, governance etc.

    The solution, I feel, is through activism. Interestingly we are seeing a resurgence in activism globally-perhaps prodded by the neo-liberal stance taken by many gvts and economic recession-whatever-interestingly ICTs are redefining the way activists operate.

    I have just finished a book on the subject of ‘health activism’-now at press with Sageit took a while to research and I interviewed a number of past and present ‘activists’-on how activism can be used in partnership with government programmes and researchers.

    I am presently working with Fran Baum at Flinders in Australia-and need more evidence of what works to directly address the SDH-any UK examples?

  5. February 16, 2016 10:46

    Mark, great stuff and a really interesting blog. I’m a health-economist and technical analyst (used to work for Bradford PCT back in the day). If I can offer any of my expertise I’d be really interested in helping out with your work. I live in Dronfield, just south of Sheffield. Cheers,

    • June 17, 2016 13:32

      Hello, Chris Gibbons
      I had some contact as an activist with CBMDC PCT, and now with the THREE CCGs which have taken over its work (Sort of).
      I’d be interested in exchanging perspectives, if you are, and if Mark G can put us in touch ‘off-line’.

  6. February 23, 2016 15:05

    Hi Mark – great piece, any chance of a meet up to discuss?


    • June 17, 2016 12:06

      Hi Cheryl – I have just spotted this comment from ages ago! Sorry not to have replied – if you would still like a chat I would be happy to meet for coffee! Only 4 months late!

  7. October 3, 2016 12:07

    Hi Mark
    I just wanted to make sure you knew about this forthcoming event in Sheffield. Please circulate to interested friends and colleagues
    many thanks

  8. Ify Dan-Ogosi permalink
    April 25, 2017 03:58

    Hi Mark,

    Great stuff! How are you? It’s been a while. Would be lovely to catch up to discuss my interests in public voice and collectivism through participatory budgeting and its impact on health and wellbeing.

    • April 26, 2017 11:12


      Lovely to hear from you – I will check out my diary and see if I can pop over to UEL then next time I am in London – it would be great to catch up with you and the team.

      All the best


  9. November 7, 2018 12:11


    I’ve just moved back to Sheffield. My email is I’d like to see to meet you to talk about democracy in Sheffield and the contribution I might make through Talk Shop –

  10. andyksheffield permalink
    January 12, 2020 14:10

    Hi Mark, I’m now working P/t at the BBC and Ive become a trustee of De Hood Boxing Centre & Community Hub biased in the old Prince Edward primary School at Manor Top. I’d like to invited you to come and se the project and talk to us about social prescribing and whether we could link into this and I’d like you to see the work going on around tacking health inequalities and knife crime. Cheers Andy Kershaw.

    • January 12, 2020 23:45

      Hi Andy thanks for getting in touch – can we have a chat over the phone please? I will DM you my mobile to your twitter account – all the best – Mark

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