Siloed thinking about health and social care won’t tackle what are some of its root causes – inequality, deprivation and isolation.
CEO of B Inspired, Angie Wright explains how important community is for positive health outcomes and the work of this Leicester-based community business in tackling poor health.
Despite major regeneration initiatives in Braunstone – the area of Leicester I’m proud to call home – the circumstances that residents of this community live in now bear all the hallmarks of a large socio-economically deprived council estate in a poor city. Leicester is ranked the 17th most deprived out of 353 Local Authority areas in England and people of Braunstone has most of its area within the lowest 5%.
Health and social care is one of the key social challenges facing Braunstone – people here are likely to die up to 10 years younger than people in neighbouring wards of the city (Public Health England – Ward profiles). Braunstone has the highest number of 999 calls in Leicestershire and high numbers of children being presented to Accident and Emergency at Hospital. It also has the highest cancer and dementia rates in Leicester as well as the highest incidence of teenage pregnancies.
It’s within this context that B Inspired operates. We set up to in 2010 to help deliver positive change to Braunstone and we run a range of programmes and services designed to deliver benefit for the Braunstone community. We’re able to deliver these owing to our main trading activity of asset ownership and management – one of which is a Health and Social Care Centre which houses a GP practice, Pharmacy, Clinics and a Café.
But we believe that solving the health challenges of Braunstone isn’t just about providing the community with a health and social care centre. It takes joined up thinking to deliver positive health outcomes for a local area, and we run a range of programmes designed to help achieve that.
Our sporting and physical activities programme, for instance, focuses specifically on local people who engage in only a little activity or are inactive. We take referrals from GP’s and local agencies and work closely with the local Children, Young People and Family Centre to provide a programme of sessions for families in multi-sport and associated nutrition awareness (cook and eat sessions/holiday Breakfast Clubs etc.)
We actively tackle mental health issues stemming from social isolation, especially in older people through befriending and targeted social groups. We also provide lots of volunteering opportunities in our growing projects, which participants attest to improved mental health benefits. Likewise we know that some of our volunteers engage in our positive activities as a diversion away from addiction issues (mainly alcohol in the daytime).
We also work in partnership with the Richmond Fellowship to support their one:one casework with local people with mental health issues – either diagnosed or seeking diagnosis in order to access services.
We offer all year-round student placements in Occupational Therapy and Community Psychology, in partnership with Coventry Uni and De Montfort Uni. The students are embedded into our neighbourhood support team and carry out projects and casework with individuals.
All these aspects of B Inspired help to contribute towards delivering positive social outcomes for the local area. Siloed thinking about health and social care won’t tackle what are some of its root causes – inequality, deprivation and isolation. Social wellbeing is intrinsically linked to physical and mental wellbeing.
And that’s where community comes in. Community businesses like ours use community as a treatment for social challenges like poor health outcomes and deprivation. It’s well known that individuals who can connect to wider social groups of identity and shared values feel less isolated and more supported. Community really is the best remedy!