By Ann Atkinson, Assembly Develpment Officer

It is very pleasing to see that there is now a strong commitment from the County Council and Northumbria Healthcare NHS Trust to build on the strengths of people in our communities to improve health and well-being which is evidenced in key strategic policies.  This means ensuring that communities have a voice in identifying their needs and priorities, are involved in planning and delivery, provided with the support they need and have increased control over their lives.

It is recognised that our communities across the county are complex and diverse and that a local approach will be essential to improve health and well-being. Northumberland County Council, in partnership with Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, is committed to supporting the employment of a Locality Coordinator in each of the five local area council areas (localities) until March 2021 with the voluntary and community sector hosting the Coordinators.  The Locality Coordinators will seek to map and mobilise the knowledge, skills and time of individuals and the resources of community groups, link people to those assets, and increase the control people have over their lives, helping to build resilience, promote community cohesion and enhance quality of life.

People associate good health with having a purpose in life, feeling valued, being able to do the activities they enjoy and getting out and meeting people.  A key driver is therefore feeling part of the community so connecting people and creating community is a key activity.  The voluntary and community sector are key players in this approach and there is certainly an appetite from the sector to work with public sector partners collaboratively to improve health and well being across Northumberland as equal partners and with an equal contribution to make. However it is evident that co-design and co-production in the development of strategies, plans and services still has some way to go with commissioners recognising the involvement required of the voluntary sector and communities and willingness to share responsibility.

Whilst recognising that some progress is being made, there are questions that spring to mind in moving this approach forward.  Are partners ready to devolve power? Do health professionals see the social determinants of health as equally important as medical interventions?   It is estimated for example that 30%- 40% of GP appointments are for non-medical issues.  

Health is not driven by medicine, and building healthy communities can only come about when we improve collaboration with stakeholders, NHS providers, CCG, local authority, health and social care providers, police, fire, housing association, voluntary and community groups etc.  This requires understanding the relationship between economic, social and environmental health determinants and health outcomes at a local level, focusing on actions that will make a difference and recognising that doctors, medicines and hospitals play a minor role.

I'd love to hear from you if you'd like to share your thoughts on this subject.  Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call me on 01670 858668.

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By Ann Atkinson, Assembly Develpment Officer


It was great to have such a good turn out at the South East Northumberland VCS Network meeting in Ashington last week.  With two informative presentations and representatives from a wide range of organisations sharing information about what they were doing, it was good to see attendees identifying people they needed to talk to in more detail over lunch and sharing contact details.

Whilst we have evidence from the recent survey carried out by Northumberland County Council about Support Services that network meeting are valued and that there is a lot of support for them, I wondered what does become of those conversations and contacts that take place between different organisations after meetings?  

If your organisation has experience of gaining a particular benefit from attending a network meeting then please let us know. We would love to know the impact of these meetings beyond just knowing they are useful.  We are also aware that there is always room for improvement. Is the format right? Are there particular issues you would like to see covered or presentations on particular topics?

Do get in touch to inform us of the value you have gained from network meetings or to let us know of ways we can improve to ensure that you get the most from them.

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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