Using public health delivery to address poverty in Salford
By Angela Eden, Health Improvement Manager
Salford Health Improvement Service is a frontline, neighbourhood-based health and wellbeing service which delivers a range of community initiatives, courses and programmes to help people make behaviour changes. Our core areas of work most often cover topics such as stop smoking, weight support, healthy eating, physical activity and mental health. Recently the service has worked closely with our partners within the City Council and voluntary sector to develop a strategic approach to targeting the Health Improvement resource to address the impact of poverty on residents in the city. This meant thinking about innovative ways of delivering the service.
There are 30 frontline staff with the Health Improvement Service who have strong networks and trusted relationships within the local communities in which they work. These staff have a long history of working ‘with’ residents to develop community initiatives that really matter to local people, and of successfully delivering services that bring about real changes to people’s lives.
Following a series of co-production workshops with frontline staff, key actions and tasks have been built into the Health Improvement Service’s existing delivery plans, to contribute towards the Salford Anti-Poverty Strategy.
Implementation of actions
Here are some examples of the initiatives that were delivered by the Health Improvement Service to support the delivery of the Anti-poverty Agenda:
- The service ensured that all staff and volunteers received sufficient training to be able to provide basic key
messages and referral to Welfare Rights and Debt Advice, Salford Assist, Affordable Warmth and Salford Credit Union. Key messages were built into all HIS community programmes in order to increase financial literacy within Salford.
- The service used marketing on social media by including key messages about anti-poverty support services to reduce stigma and encourage members of the public to get in touch. This also included the promotion of free Wi-Fi zones throughout Salford. Awareness raising road shows with partners to place on estates with the highest levels of poverty improved access to the above-mentioned schemes. In addition, Health Improvement frontline staff delivered anti-poverty brief interventions when delivering workplace health programmes, particularly focussing on lower paid workforces.
- The service worked in partnership with the Salford Food Share Network to deliver four ‘Cooking on a Budget’ and two ‘Positive You (confidence building)’ courses specifically for residents using Food Clubs.
- All staff within the service have been encouraged to join the Salford Credit Union in order to support this valuable resource.
- The service continues to work to harness the strength of local communities to lead community action to tackle poverty through frontline community development, as well as delivering and promoting activities in communities that provide an opportunity to eat together’ or ‘grow your own’.
- The service has delivered a Winter Resilience outreach programme to proactively identify and support vulnerable older people who may be at risk of fuel poverty.
- Health Improvement has worked with partners to create the Healthy Holiday Voucher Scheme for families who are eligible for Free School Meals. These families received a £30 Aldi voucher per child. In the first year the scheme reached over 40% of eligible families.Conclusion
This project has been a useful example of how a service and staffing resource can be flexed to respond quickly to a particular priority, in this case poverty and the growing impact of welfare reform. It has been possible to demonstrate that a public health service has been able to make small but significant contributions to the Anti-Poverty agenda in Salford. The actions delivered through the project were co-produced with the staff who would be carrying out the direct delivery, and as such resulted in a number of practical, deliverable solutions that had the potential to make a real difference to some of our most vulnerable residents. For more information please contact Angela Eden.