The Health and Social Care Board (HSCB) and the Public Health Agency (PHA) have launched a new Community Development Strategy entitled: ‘Working in Partnership’.
Community development is a practice which helps people to act together to improve their shared environment, both through their own efforts and through working in partnership with public services.
The HSCB and PHA recognise and support the important and pivotal role that community development plays in improving health and wellbeing. They seek a number of benefits in implementing this new Community Development Strategy, primarily a reduction in health and well-being inequalities. This means working to address the social factors that affect health and this can only be achieved by strengthening partnership working with service users, the community and voluntary sectors and other organisations; strengthening families and communities; supporting volunteering and making best use of resources.
Fionnuala McAndrew, Director of Social Care and Children with the HSCB, said: “This strategy is an important way to deliver the new agenda of ‘Transforming Your Care’ – a review of health and social care in Northern Ireland.
“Community development needs to be at the heart of everything that we do in health and social care to maximise and strengthen community leadership, partnership working and tackle the root causes of inequalities. New innovative services need to be created in partnership with the community and other sectors to strengthen social enterprise, prevention and early intervention which lead to much better health and well-being outcomes.”
Director of Public Health with the PHA, Dr Carolyn Harper added: “The HSCB and the PHA want to see strong, resilient communities where everyone has good health and wellbeing – places where people look out for each other and have community pride in where they live.
“We seek to narrow the gap in health inequalities and improve the health and wellbeing of the population. This means working to address the determinants of ill health and reducing risk factors, including those associated with poverty and social exclusion, and this can only be achieved in partnership with the community.
“Every health and social care organisation should incorporate a community development approach into their programmes, and this strategy assists them to do so.”
Welcoming the strategy, Joanne Morgan from the Community Development and Health Network (CHDN) said: “CDHN are delighted to have been involved in the development of this strategy. We see it as a concrete commitment to community development principles and methods and an effective way of tackling health inequalities. We look forward with enthusiasm and a real sense of optimism to the implementation stage of the strategy.”
The Community Development Strategy can be downloaded from the Board and Agency’s websites: www.hscboard.hscni.net and www.publichealth.hscni.net.