The Healthy Communities and Place theme focuses on the physical and social characteristics of communities and the extent to which they enable and promote health and well-being. There is a social gradient in relation to the level of ‘healthy’ community characteristics of communities, for example, access to good quality, useable green-space, access to affordable nutritious food, and good quality housing options, as well as differences in levels of social capital.
Social capital underpins ‘social connectedness’ between people and between communities and provides a buffer against risks of poor health. The Marmot Review (2010) sets outs six policy objectives that are required to reduce health inequalities. Included in those objectives is the need to create and develop healthy and sustainable communities and place.
Empowering individuals and local communities to participate in their communities and have more control over their own lives has the potential to reduce health inequalities through contributing to psycho-social wellbeing, and as a result to improvements in other health outcomes.
CHAD projects that sit within this theme are:
- Healthy urban planning
- CHAD Community Action Network (CHAD CAN!)
Healthy Urban Planning
The way we perceive and interact with the surrounding built and natural environment has a profound impact on our health. From exposure to air pollution to access to local greenspace, our behaviour, quality of life and ultimately our life expectancy can be influenced by our surroundings. There is ever-growing research evidence to support this relationship and Staffordshire University has been a key contributor to this area (e.g., ProGreSS, PHENOTYPE).
In collaboration with Stoke-on-Trent City Council, CHAD is applying the findings from the latest research to inform the Joint Local Plan for Stoke-on-Trent and Newcastle-under-Lyme. This work also involves conducting research into the area of health and planning in order to:
- Listen and explore the challenges experienced by planners
- Provide evidence for the inclusion of health in planning decisions
- Incorporate a health perspective into the Local Plan and other policies
- Act as a planning specialist and consultant throughout the development management process
Applying these into both practice and local policy, CHAD is helping to ensure that our research has a positive impact on our surrounding environment. This project is also helping to shape national policy by providing guidance to Public Health England on the National Planning Policy Guidance and to develop a Healthy Urban Planning Indicator.
This work has been recognised by the Town and County Planning Association and featured in their latest publication on ’reuniting health and planning’
CHAD Community Action Network (CHAD CAN!)
CHAD is committed to carrying out locally relevant research, which makes a real difference to people’s health and wellbeing in our region and beyond. In order to achieve this, we are establishing a community action research network. The purpose of this network is to meaningfully connect and engage with our local communities to identify what matters to them and how they are already making a difference in their communities. Taking an assets based approach, the goal is to develop a collaboration with people who are active in their communities, to support the development of a social movement of community based participatory research as the basis for community-led regeneration.
As a first step towards establishing a Community Action Network CHAD is holding a special event on Wednesday 7th June, The BIG Community Conversation. The Big Community Conversation is a celebration of the work that people in Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire do to make a difference in their communities. It aims to explore how community research can support community action and we will also be offering funding advice and training for people to help them in their work as well as providing activities which will be enjoyable and facilitate discussion. Read more