Harnessing community power in public health

This research briefing is for practice for services interested in involving members of the public in the delivery of public health programmes. It has been created by the People in Public Health research team at Leeds Metropolitan University.

The role of 'Big Society' in improving public health

The People in Public Health study aimed to find out what community or volunteer workforces can, and currently do, to help services improve health and how these services can engage, support and sustain them. Examples include those leading walking projects, breastfeeding support groups and volunteers running sessions on healthy eating. The study was funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Service Delivery and Organisation (SDO) programme.

Involving members of the public in delivering public health programmes utilises the knowledge, skills and resources available in communities. Such workers can act as a bridge between services and communities, particularly for groups that are at risk of social exclusion.

Training and support for public health volunteers

The research briefing for practice gives services information on the practicalities of involving members of the public. It offers advice on:

  • how to recruit, train and support people willing to take on public health roles
  • service models for involving members of the public in delivering health improvement
  • how to develop appropriate systems to engage with members of the public.

Health is "everyone's business" and partnership working

Liam Hughes, National Adviser Healthy Communities, Local Government (LG) Improvement and Development said:

“This research is important for both public health and local government. The findings fit in well with the new Government's emphasis that health is everyone's business.”

Mike Grady of the Marmot Review emphasised:

"This paper highlights the critical ingredients necessary to develop partnership and to achieve concerted effort to involve people and promote effective joint working for the health and wellbeing of sustainable communities."

Further information

Read the full document here:
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Or if you would like a paper copy, please
Email: [email protected]

For more information on the project, please visit:
People in Public Health section - on the Leeds Metropolitan University website.