Jenny Edwards CBE, a leading advocate on mental and public health issues takes on the role of Chair at People’s Health Trust at a time of ‘an unprecedented crisis in health inequality’.
People’s Health Trust funds projects in neighbourhoods experiencing high levels of disadvantage in Great Britain and campaigns on issues contributing to health inequalities such as jobs and income. During the COVID-19 pandemic the Trust’s funded partners have seen a huge increase in demand for their services as inequalities in different groups and regions have been exposed and exacerbated.
Ms Edwards said:
“We face an unprecedented crisis. The pandemic has devastated families and communities, laying bare deep health inequalities. People have lost their lives or their long term health. We can see clearly the unfairness of some areas suffering five times the death rate of others. Black and minority ethnic communities and people with disabilities have experienced very high death rates. More widely, we see many families grappling with mental health pressures, the loss of jobs, food insecurity and threats to their homes.
Enough is enough. We have been suffering a crisis of health inequality for decades. The pandemic must now be the turning point. We need decisive action and investment right across all the areas that impact on public health”.
The UK ranked among the most unequal nations in Europe heading into the pandemic, according to the OECD. Professor Sir Michael Marmot reviewed health inequalities in England 2020 in The Marmot Review: 10 Years On, which found that life expectancy in areas experiencing the highest levels of disadvantage had fallen for the first time in decades.
People’s Health Trust will soon mark 10 years of working to tackle health inequalities across Great Britain. Their work has roots in the findings of the World Health Organisation’s Commission on Social Determinants of Health (2008), as well the seminal report Fair Society, Healthy Lives: A strategic review of health inequalities in England post-2010 (The Marmot Review).
Ms Edwards, who joins the Trust as Chair on Wednesday 28 April, went on to say:
“I am proud to take on the role of Chair at such a pivotal time. People’s Health Trust has played a leading role in tackling health inequalities over the past decade. At last there is wider national recognition of health inequalities. We need to learn the solutions that work from local communities who are tackling the causes, and to give people the power to bring about the changes they need.
All people must have a fair and have an equal chance at a long and healthy life. This means tackling root causes. We need to see good jobs, thriving local economies, access to good quality housing, safe, clean and green local environments and strong community organisations who create and grow social connections.
In my role at People’s Health Trust I will take the message to governments and policy makers that they need to tackle health inequalities with serious intent, investment and speed.”
Jackie Lodge, Deputy Chair of Trustees at People’s Health Trust said:
“Jenny was the standout candidate for the Board following an extensive search. She brings with her real commitment to social justice and health equity through her extensive work in mental health and homelessness. This, coupled with her vision makes her a significant and very exciting appointment for the Trust at this particular time.”