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Health and social care organisations face a major challenge – how to engage people, patients and communities to deliver better health and wellbeing outcomes for less cost and to address health inequalities at the same time.

Many commissioners and service managers are starting to recognise the benefits of such an approach.

"Without citizen participation and community engagement fostered by public service organisations, it will be difficult to improve penetration of interventions and to impact on health inequalities." (Marmot (2010) Fair Society, Healthy Lives, p151).

At Health Together, we know how to commission for and deliver effective engagement to improve health and wellbeing. We combine practical experience of policy making and programme delivery with academic rigour and in-depth knowledge of the evidence base.

Health Together offer a bespoke service. We can help you identify what your organisation wants to do and how to make it happen. From research and needs assessment, through to commissioning, programme planning, delivery and evaluation we can support you to engage with people, patients and communities.

We can provide facilitation, policy development, evidence briefings, report writing, programme design, research and evaluation.

Visit the Health Together website

About Us

The Health Together team believe in the power of active citizens to improve health and wellbeing and help tackle inequalities. Judy White, Director of Health Together, says;

“We believe that healthy communities are those where people are actively engaged in the life of the community and in shaping services – including those people who have not previously got involved. We believe that in the future health and social care services will need to make community and patient engagement central to everything that they do.”

The core team of Health Together are all part of the Institute for Health and Wellbeing at Leeds Beckett University. Active for many years in the field of community engagement the core team have developed successful programmes and policies, conducted numerous research and evaluation projects and conducted large-scale reviews of evidence and knowledge on what really is effective.

Judy White, Director of Health Together

Judy set up the early adopter Health Trainer programme in Bradford and helped develop health trainers regionally and nationally. She has evaluated health trainer and community health champion programmes and published numerous reports and articles. Judy is now a senior lecturer at Leeds Beckett University having spent 10 years in the voluntary and community sector and over 20 years in health promotion in the NHS.

Mark Gamsu, Visiting Professor at the Institute for Health and Wellbeing

Mark Gamsu has worked strategically at a regional and national level both in the voluntary and community sector and in local government. Mark’s particular expertise is in developing and implementing practical community led actions to meet local need in ways that are consistent with but not constrained by government policy. He has in-depth knowledge of areas that include, the Social Determinants of Health; Joint Strategic Needs Assessments; Health and Wellbeing Board Development and Citizenship and Health.

Jane South, Professor of Healthy Communities

Jane South is one of the country’s leading experts on community engagement. She leads a research programme on active citizens, communities and health and has a national and international profile for her work on lay health workers and volunteer roles in health. Research and evaluation of public health practice and developing bespoke frameworks for practice in local government and the NHS are key areas of expertise.

All the team are experienced policy makers, teachers and facilitators. The core team of Health Together work closely with a number of partners and associates to deliver a wide ranging set of skills and experience. Jenny Woodward, Research Fellow and Sue Rooke, Administrator, provide additional support and resource.

  • Jenny Woodward is an experienced qualitative researcher in the field of health promotion. Her work encompasses health trainers, health champions, older people, child weight management programmes and school meals research. Her background is in communications and marketing – and she uses the skills developed there to produce accessible, concise briefings of health promotion research and evidence.
  • Sue Rooke is an experienced, efficient administrator with strong skills in event management, project management, IT and new media.

Our Services

Health Together work closely with clients to identify what an organisation wants to achieve and how that can happen. The following are some examples of areas of work we have particular expertise in:

  • Research and evaluation
    We are experienced in undertaking both large and small scale research and evaluation, specialising in qualitative methods which focus on assessing patients, users and other stakeholders’ views as well as on evaluating outcomes. We have developed an evaluation framework to use when assessing citizen involvement in neighbourhood planning. Seven evaluations of Health Trainer Services in Bradford, North Lincolnshire, Scarborough, East Riding and Kirklees have been conducted by the team. Jane South and Jackie Green from the Centre for Health Promotion Research are authors of “Evaluation.” This definitive book from 2006 combines the theory and principles of evaluation with practical implementation.
  • Training and Facilitation
    We offer seminars, workshops and bespoke whole day training events on all aspects of community engagement including policy, practice and evaluation – both for commissioners and service providers and for communities themselves. We are accredited with the Royal Society of Public Health (RSPH) as a training centre and in March 2013, Sarah Lockyer, one of our delivery partners, ran a two day training programme for health champions which evaluated very well. Early in 2013 we were commissioned by the Local Government Association to facilitate a series of area based workshops on a whole system approach to assets based working and health improvement in Walsall, which we did in collaboration with the Federation of Community Development Learning. In early 2013 we were also commissioned by Sheffield City Council to facilitate a series of consultation events to engage the voluntary and community sector in the development of their joint strategic needs assessment.
  • Programme Review and Development
    We are available to act as consultants to any agency wanting to set up a programme to engage communities or patients, covering all stages of development from reviewing existing provision or developing an initial idea, then programme design and implementation, through to monitoring and evaluation. For example, in Spring 2013 we undertook a review of community health champion provision in Lincolnshire. 
  • Policy
    We publish regular briefings on Government policy and are able to help organisations design their own bespoke community or patient engagement policies.
  • Current Work
    Our model of working is rooted in working collaboratively, particularly with the voluntary and community sector, to bring community voices into decision making around health and promote an assets based approach, as these examples from our current work illustrate. We offer a flexible and bespoke service and are happy to undertake very small commissions as well as larger ones.

Health Trainers end of year review

In May/June 2014 Health Together undertook a review of health trainer data for the national Data Collection and Reporting Service. The report of this work summarises health trainer activity in the financial year 2013-2014, using data recorded on the DCRS. Not all health trainer services use the DCRS to record their activity (some use other systems and some do not use electronic systems at all), so the figures in this report do not represent the whole picture of what health trainers are doing nationally.

Nevertheless, with approximately 60% of health trainer services still using the DCRS, it is an important central resource for assessing the activity of health trainers in England and the report provides a useful overview of activity in the past year with a particular focus on mental health and wellbeing, in relation to client demographics and achievement of personal health plan goals.

The report can be found here.

Our work

  • Healthwatch
    We are delighted to be part of the winning tenders to run Healthwatch in Leeds and Wakefield. Jess Parker, Business Development Director, Touchstone said:

    “Touchstone is delighted to be delivering Healthwatch Leeds in partnership with Health Together, Leeds Involving People, Inclusion North and the people of Leeds. Health Together offered invaluable insight and made huge contributions during tendering and mobilisation of Healthwatch. Their national influence, academic rigour and ability to analyse the evidence, offering practical, applied solutions has brought strength to our unique voluntary and academic sector partnership.”

  • Walsall District Council – facilitation of area based workshops
    In late 2012 we were asked by the Local Government Association to facilitate a series of six area based workshops for Walsall District Council working with NHS Walsall. These aimed to rebalance practice in Walsall to place greater emphasis on working in partnership with the public taking an assets based approach Denise Parry, Area Manager for Walsall South said: “I have recently had the pleasure of working with Mark Gamsu from Health Together. I found him to be thoroughly professional and very supportive always prepared to go the extra mile. We particularly appreciated his understanding of community assets and how they could be developed.”
  • Sheffield City Council – facilitation of engagement at JSNA consultation events
    In January/February 2013 we facilitated group activities at a series of four Joint Strategic Needs Assessment consultation events for Sheffield City Council and provided an on the spot summary of the key points emerging from the groups. We also contributed to a members review of public health, advising on what ‘people-centred public health’ might look like. Richard Parrot a commissioner with SCC said: “Mark and Judy have been a huge asset to us in the public engagement on our latest JSNA. Their ability to combine expert knowledge with a genuinely people centred approach has helped stakeholders from all sectors engage positively with our JSNA and has made a real impact. Many thanks!”
  • NHS Lincolnshire – scoping the work of community health champions
    We are working in collaboration with Public Health, NHS Lincolnshire, the University of Lincoln and Development Plus, a leading voluntary sector organisation based in Lincoln, to scope the work community health champions are currently doing across the county. We will be producing a report to help inform business planning for Public Health. Teresa Roche, Public Health Consultant said: “Health Together have supported our Community Champion Scoping exercise - it has been a pleasure working with them their knowledge has helped shape our thinking and their collaborative approach has made all the partners working on this project feel included, we look forward to the report that they are producing for us which will help inform the business case we are developing.”
  • A review of Bradford District Care Trust’s Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) strategy and processes
    In March 2014 we completed a review of Bradford District Care Trust’s Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) strategy and processes. The aim of the review was to assess how effective the current PPI strategy and processes were, in order to be able to plan how to take them forward in the future. It entailed:
    • Reviewing the content and implementation of the Trust’s Involving You 3 strategy and making recommendations for changes
    • Reviewing current structures and processes for involvement of service users and carers and recommending improvements
    • Reviewing central and operational capacity/support arrangements for involvement and recommending improvements
    The BDCT report can be downloaded here. Michael Smith, Chair of the Trust said: ‘Mark Gamsu and the Leeds Beckett University Health Together team have provided the Trust with a wealth of information following their recent review of service user and carer involvement, all of which was succinctly collated and clearly presented. The review will allow us to make some really far-reaching and innovative changes, the results of which I have no doubt we will be seeing in many years to come. I would have no hesitation in recommending Mark and the team to other organisations as the service they offer is value-for-money, reliable and insightful.’
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