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News and Events

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Sustaining a Thriving Third Sector - Thursday 23rd April, Hamara Healthy Living Centre, Leeds.

Measures of austerity adopted by the coalition government have resulted in significant cuts to local authority budgets. This in turn has resulted in a drop in funds available to third sector organisations to deliver core services. What’s more as local authorities seek to streamline existing services in order to balance the books, many third sector organisations are seeing a greater demand for the services they provide. In order to survive in these testing economic times charitable organisations are tasked with diversifying their streams of funding in search of a more resilient and sustainable model of income generation.

With the aforementioned backdrop, Community organised an event on 23rd April, designed to promote learning and debate around a range of developmental models which could help make local third sector organisations more resilient in times of austerity. The event commenced with a networking lunch, provided by Hamara. Then, after a formal launch and introduction, representatives of local charities and partner agencies who have adopted new and innovative ways of working presented the models which they have adopted. Models showcased included, Asset Based Community Development, Social enterprise and Cross-Sector Partnership building. A table debate and break followed, in which each table were asked to consider the models put forward and develop questions to put to a panel of experts. The event concluded with a panel debate.

New report authored by Leeds Beckett Professor shows Communities are key to health and wellbeing

A new guide, authored by Jane South, Professor of Healthy Communities within Leeds Beckett University’s Institute for Health and Wellbeing, which highlights the importance of communities to the improvement of health and wellbeing in the UK, has been published by Public Health England (PHE) and NHS England.

The guide has identified how local government and the NHS have important roles in building confident communities to improve health and reduce inequalities. Professor South has been working with PHE in the role of expert advisor on community approaches. It states that the move to a new health system, including the transfer of public health to local government, has created opportunities for public health and healthcare to become more person- and community-centred. The report and briefing, prepared by Professor South, is the culmination of a joint project between PHE and NHS England aiming to draw together and disseminate evidence on community-centred health programmes. A team at the Institute for Health and Wellbeing also contributed to the background research.

Professor South commented: “When it comes to health and wellbeing, communities matter. That's why the guide calls on local health partners to consider how community-centred approaches can be used to improve health and tackle health inequalities. These cover strengthening communities, increasing volunteering, involving citizens in local planning and improving access to community resources. The guide describes a wide range of UK models and signposts to sources of evidence. It's been great to have had the opportunity to work with PHE and NHS England to develop this guide, which I hope will now be used as a resource for public health planning and practice.”

Professor Ieuan Ellis, Dean of the Faculty of Health and Social Sciences and Pro Vice Chancellor at Leeds Beckett, added: “'Authoring of this key national report from Public Health England and NHS England is further recognition of the major contribution and national impact of the research of Leeds Beckett's Professor Jane South. Jane provides inspirational research-informed thought leadership which is informing policy and transforming best practice through valuing the effective engagement of individuals and communities for health improvement.”

Professor South has led a number of national studies on peer and volunteering interventions in health. She is part of a team of academics who deliver real-world research focused on community health and inequalities.

The Institute for Health and Wellbeing at Leeds Beckett University has a strong track record of research, evaluation and public engagement on community engagement and volunteer roles in health, working with partners across local and national government, the NHS and third sector to build the evidence base and support effective practice. Our innovative Community-Campus partnership is a flagship initiative which aims to identify ways to bring academic and community knowledge together to improve health and wellbeing in local communities.

The full report can be found here.

The Community Champions Fair - 3rd November 2014, St. George's Centre, Leeds.

CommUNIty organised an event as part of the ESRC's annual festival of social science. The event was titled 'The Community Champions Fair' and was held at the St. George's Centre in Leeds on 3rd November, 2014. The fair provided a lively and vibrant forum for debate and knowledge sharing about Community Health Champions and similar lay health approaches.

The event sought to address the key questions:

  • Who are Community Health Champions?
  • What is the value of Community Health Champion approach?
  • How can the Community Health Champion approach contribute to the mix of statutory and third sector provision in health and social care?

Drawing on findings from research on community champions conducted at Leeds Beckett University, the event presented high-quality social science research as a resource for community members; a tool for application of national policy at community level; and a means of complementing experiential knowledge of what works at a grassroots level.

The event featured stalls managed by Community Health Champions; ‘soap box’ presentations; demonstrations and performances showcasing the work of Community Health Champions; and a panel discussion with an opportunity for questions.

The event was aimed at voluntary and community organisations, volunteers, and the general public; and may also be of interest to health and social care practitioners and commissioners.

Mens Health Week at St Georges Crypt

At St. George's Crypt from Monday June 9th to the 13th there was a series of events to mark International Men's Health Week for homeless men in Leeds. It included music, theatre, chiropody, physical fitness, massage, manicure, food and meditation. Through the week health workers from a variety of services shared information and sought conversations (rather than consultations) to deliver positive health messages. The event was a partnership between St. George's Crypt, York Street Health Practice / Leeds Community Healthcare, Leeds Beckett University and Leeds City Council. The Crypt is a major centre of welcome and well-being for homeless people. John Walsh, Service Manager from York Street said, "We are committed to celebrating men's health week by making sure that some of the most vulnerable people in our city receive a week that brings positive activities and information that can they can both enjoy and engage with. This city has a great Health and Well-Being vision that seeks to make Leeds a healthy and caring city where the poorest receive healthcare the fastest. During this week we will work to ensure a well-being experience for the poorest and most vulnerable. It's significant that the local authority, education, health, the third sector and faith sector have come together to make a difference for the better. It shows how we can in difficult times create a coalition of care for those of our people who struggle.”

Community health fair at Hamara

The community campus partnership secured funding from the ESRC’s Festival of Social Science to hold a community health fair at Hamara Healthy Living Centre on the 6th of November to showcase the School of Health and Wellbeing’s research. Researchers ‘set out stall’ for their respective fields. The event was followed by a debriefing session with interested members of the public to gather opinions about the school's work and to determine any gaps in the research programme from the perspective of a non-academic audience.

Supporting women at higher risk of infant death

The number of children who die before the age of one year in the UK is much higher for women in some minority ethnic communities and for teenage mothers than amongst women in the general population. Increased support and improved services are important ways of reducing disadvantage. This conference presented an international perspective on maternal and child health outcomes along with findings from a University of Leeds research study exploring support that women receive during maternity and after birth.

People Power and Communities: Policies for the 21st Century 

Staff from Hamara and the School of Health and Wellbeing delivered a joint teaching session for students from the MSc in Public Health - Health Promotion programme. The seminar covered the rationale for promoting an assets based approach and the implications for practitioners, whilst giving students an invaluable opportunity to learn from the experience of a voluntary sector organisation with a track record of delivering services for the communities of South Leeds. Feedback indicated that students valued the opportunity to visit a grassroots community organisation.

People Centred Public Health

Celebrating the official launch of Jane South, Judy White and Mark Gamsu’s book People Centred Public Health, the Institute of Health and Wellbeing hosted a lively event on the 15th of February, 2013 which brought together public health professionals, academics and representatives from the community and voluntary sector to discuss the prospect for creating a people-centred health system and improving health outcomes across all citizens. The Chief Medical Officer for Wales, Ruth Hussey, gave a key note speech focussing on the growing awareness among public health professionals of psycho-social conditions for health and wellbeing, and an emerging consensus among policy makers concerning the need to better involve citizens in the provision of services. The second speaker David Hunter (Professor of Health Policy and Management, Durham University) argued that the transfer of public health portfolios to local authorities in England presented an opportunity to create services that are more capable of responding to the priorities of local publics. Following the speeches, the panel discussion highlighted the political and moral dimensions of the debate surrounding greater public engagement with the health service.

Strategic Partnership Away Day at Hamara

On the 22nd of January 2013 the School of Health and Wellbeing and the Institute for Health and Wellbeing visited the Hamara Healthy Living centre in Beeston as part of the development process towards a building a Strategic Partnership between Leeds Beckett University and Hamara.

The Away Day presented an opportunity for staff from the School of Health and Wellbeing to find out more about the work of Hamara, and for members from both organisations to learn about existing collaborations between the community and voluntary sector and higher education providers elsewhere. The main aim of the day was to inspire staff from both Hamara and the School of Health and Wellbeing to get involved in the Strategic Partnership and to develop concrete ideas for future collaboration between both organisations in order to promote better health and equality in Leeds. The event, which involved interactive exercises to stimulate thinking, generated a large amount of suggestions for joint projects and other partnership activities, which will form the basis of the Strategic Partnership’s work plan for the next 5 years.


A series of policy and practice workshops were held in 2013 to promote knowledge exchange between local community organisations and the University.

Each workshop focused on an emerging policy area, identifying the practical implications of these policies for the community organisations and producing a briefing paper with implications and recommendations for the key sectors.

One set of seminars was delivered in cooperation with Involve Yorkshire and Humber, starting May 2013. The first event brought together representatives from Yorkshire’s new Health Watches and their local authority commissioners to discuss the opportunities and challenges involved in setting up local health and social care consumer organisations.

Valuing volunteers - what does research tell us?

As part of the ESRC's Festival of Social Science the Institute of Health and Wellbeing hosted this seminar to present recent research about the scope of volunteering in health and social care for representatives from the third sector, and statutory organisations that use volunteers. Using recent studies, the event considered the preconditions for building a thriving volunteer base, outlining what organisations can do to get citizens involved in the delivery of services, but will also discuss the role of national policies to support volunteering. In addition to researchers from the Institute for Health & Wellbeing, the event featured speakers from the King's Fund and the Institute of Volunteering Research.

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