Dr. Mona Fouad with the CHAD Team
Connecting communities is at the heart of CHAD’s mission to carry out locally relevant, translational research into health inequalities. When we knew that we were fortunate enough to have a four-day visit from Dr Mona Fouad* from the University of Alabama, we were keen to share with her some of the great work that is happening in Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire and for her to meet some of our community members and projects.
Our first visit was to the House of Bread (HOB) in Stafford (www.hobstafford.co.uk) where Will and Jude gave us tea and a warm welcome. It was really interesting to listen to their story of how they came to be where they are today, meeting the needs of homeless and vulnerable people in the Stafford area by just being with them, listening to their stories when they are ready to speak and providing food and warmth. The House of Bread gets minimal statutory funding, so has to fundraise to survive, and is an excellent example of what can be achieved when people believe passionately in their cause. As we left the HOB, an impromptu music session started with friends of HOB and volunteers joining in the singing. Not bad for a Wednesday morning!
We then introduced Mona to the My Community Matters (www.mcmstoke.org.uk) team who support a number of community development projects in Stoke-on-Trent. Marvin and Lisa took us to the North Shelton Community Centre where the community partnership was running a tea and coffee morning for residents. We saw a wonderful array of Western and Asian food that residents had brought to share and we were impressed with the community garden, which the partnership and residents had developed.
Mona at the North Shelton Community Project with Lisa from My Community Matters
The North Shelton Community Partnership is resident-led and they work hard to ensure that they are inclusive and that people can engage in whatever way works best for them.
Finally, we visited Amelia from Middleport Matters (Facebook/Twitter). Amelia welcomed us as she waved goodbye to a number of mums and babies who had been visiting her in the morning – a real hub of activity. Mona heard how Amelia came to be in Middleport and what motivated her to be so active in her community and to take on the Chair of the Middleport Matters Community Partnership. We felt inspired by her vision of wanting Middleport to be an area where people actively want to live, a place of choice, and the plans that Middleport Matters have to support the regeneration of the area whilst providing meaningful activity for existing residents in the here and now.
Taking Tea at Middleport
We also attended an obesity debate in Hednesford, Staffordshire called the Big Fat Chat! The event is part of the obesity debate planned by Staffordshire Health and Wellbeing Board. It was very well attended by both residents and providers of weight loss services. They debated with an expert panel issues such as personal responsibility for weight management, the healthy child weight measurement programme in schools and the extent to which local assets could be used to give communities greater access to facilities to promote healthy weight.
CHAD would like to thank all of the community projects that we visited for sharing their stories and their time and for making our American visitor so welcome.
We would also like to thank Mona for coming to Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire. Our relationship with Mona has been influential in the establishment and development of CHAD and we are delighted that she is an Advisor to CHAD Board. We have been collaborating with Mona and her team since 2009, for more information, watch the video below,
You can also watch on YouTube here.
We are scoping out a number of future collaborations in relation to social determinants of health and healthy communities and are seeking to formalise the CHAD/MHRC relationship over the coming months. We are also pleased that other University Departments are building relationships with UAB, including the development of a joint Smart Cities master degree.
*Dr Mona Fouad, Senior Associate Dean for Diversity and Inclusion, Director and Professor, Division of Preventive Medicine, Director, Minority Health and Health Disparities Research Center School of Medicine University of Alabama at Birmingham