Six areas in England have been chosen to join the first phase of a major grant-funding and development programme designed to improve the health and wellbeing of communities and tackle health inequalities.
The Healthy communities together programme, which was established by The King's Fund and The National Lottery Community Fund, will support partnership-working between the voluntary and community sector (VCS), the NHS and local authorities, and will help them make the most of their combined capability to improve the health of their community.
The areas were selected from more than 270 applications and will now benefit from leadership development support from The King’s Fund and up to £500,000 grant funding from The National Lottery Community Fund, the largest funder of community activity in the UK.
The six areas selected to take part in the programme are:
- Coventry (Grapevine Coventry and Warwickshire and partners)
- Croydon (One Croydon Alliance)
- Gloucestershire (Gloucestershire Enabling Active Communities)
- Leeds (Solidarity Network and Partners)
- Newham (Well Newham)
- Plymouth (Plymouth Octopus Project and partners)
The six areas chosen for the Healthy communities together programme demonstrated how their partnerships aim to tackle deep-rooted health inequalities. Each area will also work to improve the links between health and care services and the communities they serve so that local needs can be better met.
Charities and community groups often play a vital role working with disadvantaged communities to improve the lives of people with the worst health outcomes, and this role has come to the fore during the Covid-19 pandemic. Many of the applications to the programme showed how the sector’s extensive reach into the communities hardest hit by the virus is proving invaluable alongside the efforts of NHS and council services.
Across England, health charities, NHS organisations and local authorities are working towards the same goal, in the same place, often supporting the same people. Better co-ordination of their collective efforts is seen as key to improving the health of local communities. The experience and learning of the organisations involved in Healthy communities together will be shared beyond the programme to help shape progress towards more joined-up working across the country.
Commenting on the announcement, Richard Murray, Chief Executive of The King's Fund, said:
‘As shown throughout the past year, voluntary and community sector organisations play a pivotal role in improving the health of local communities – not only by providing the types of support public services struggle to offer, but also by acting as an important link between public bodies and the people they serve.
'The Healthy communities together programme will provide these six areas with the much-needed financial headroom and development support to build long-lasting partnerships. Through this, they should be well-placed to tackle some of the engrained inequalities that often leave the most-deprived communities facing the worst health outcomes.’
Elly De Decker, England Director at The National Lottery Community Fund, said:
‘Through the Healthy communities together programme, we are investing in the potential of cross-sector partnerships to improve health outcomes for communities across England. This funding, raised by players of the National Lottery, will give voluntary and community organisations the much needed time and flexibility to build strong partnerships in their area to shape local health and care plans, thus unlocking their local knowledge and expertise for wider benefit.’
During the first phase of the programme, each site will receive £50,000 in development funding from The National Lottery Community Fund plus support from The King’s Fund to develop new ways of working and foster stronger relationships between organisations. A number of the areas will then progress to the second phase of the programme where up to £450,000 of additional funding will be made available to each area and leadership support will continue over the subsequent three to four years. In total, the programme will offer up to £3 million of grant funding and £850,000-worth of support.
The Healthy communities together programme forms part of efforts by The King’s Fund to improve health and care for people with the worst health outcomes. The programme also builds on The National Lottery Community Fund’s expertise in place-based funding, aiming to support local areas to develop effective and sustainable partnerships between the voluntary and community sector, the NHS and local authorities to improve health and wellbeing, reduce health inequalities and empower communities. The programme complements The National Lottery Community Fund’s wider support for health and wellbeing, which includes providing just under £100 million  to support social prescribing since 2014: supporting and enabling link workers, piloting new approaches and VCS-led activities and services that underpin social prescribing.
Thanks to National Lottery players, £30 million is raised every week for the UK’s good causes, and £41 billion has been distributed to 565,000 good causes across the UK since 1994.
Notes to editors
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The King's Fund is an independent charity working to improve health and care in England. We help to shape policy and practice through research and analysis; develop individuals, teams and organisations; promote understanding of the health and social care system; and bring people together to learn, share knowledge and debate. Our vision is that the best possible health and care is available to all.