Today People’s Health Trust, in partnership with New Economics Foundation and Leeds Beckett University, are pleased to publish a new report on the Trust’s Local People Programme which reveals the importance of social connections for good quality health.
The report focuses on the evaluations of the Local People Programme in 2018 -2019, a funding programme which aims to support improved health outcomes by empowering local people to have genuine control over the design, delivery and evaluation of interventions which address the wider social determinants of health inequalities. The Trust works with national charities including Scope, Youth Sport Trust, The Conservation Volunteers and, Royal Voluntary Service to support projects in their local areas.
Overall, the report has found important improvements in the neighbourhoods and communities that were involved were created by the Local People programme. There is also good evidence that social connections within and between groups of people has improved. People’s enjoyment, sense of belonging and community spirit has also increased. Quality of life has been improved and better places to live have been created.
The report also found that residents closely involved in making decisions and delivering the projects have increased in confidence, knowledge, understanding and skills. They feel able to make changes in their neighbourhoods, and are more in control.
Having social connections is an important factor that shapes our opportunities to be healthy and live longer lives. Social connections can reduce isolation, combat loneliness and reduce stress, as well as contributing to a sense of meaning and purpose in life. At the Trust, our funding programmes place a strong emphasis on building social connections as the foundation for increased confidence, skills, voice and aspiration.
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John Hume, CEO of People’s Health Trust, said, “Social connections and collective control in communities improve people’s health. This evaluation adds to the growing body of evidence which demonstrates that. As projects now adapt to new challenges and needs during the ongoing pandemic, the power of local wisdom and staying connected is clearer than ever.
Covid-19 has shone a light on existing inequalities: those neighbourhoods experiencing the harshest disadvantage are being negatively impacted the most. We must use this time to stand alongside the communities most affected. To listen to and act on what they say needs to happen next if we are to reduce the very serious threat of ever-widening inequalities in Great Britain today.”