Local government and the NHS have important roles in building confident and connected communities as part of efforts to improve health and reduce inequalities. The project ‘Working with communities – empowerment evidence and learning’ was initiated jointly by PHE and NHS England to draw together and disseminate research and learning on community-centred approaches for health and wellbeing. This report presents the work undertaken in phase 1 of the project and provides a guide to the case for change, the key concepts, the varieties of approach that have been tried and tested and sources of evidence.
Community-centred approaches are not just community-based, they are about mobilising assets within communities, promoting equity and increasing people’s control over their health and lives. A new family of community-centred approaches represents some of the available options that can be used to improve health and wellbeing, grouped around four different strands:
- strengthening communities – where approaches involve building on community capacities to take action together on health and the social determinants of health
- volunteer and peer roles – where approaches focus on enhancing individuals’ capabilities to provide advice, information and support or organise activities around health and wellbeing in their or other communities
- collaborations and partnerships – where approaches involve communities and local services working together at any stage of planning cycle, from identifying needs through to implementation and evaluation
- access to community resources – where approaches connect people to community resources, practical help, group activities and volunteering opportunities to meet health needs and increase social participation