Supporting people to live healthier, happier, more sustainable lives is central to Groundwork’s mission. Health and wellbeing are significantly influenced by the social and physical environments in which we live, and by the economic circumstances we face. Creating healthy communities therefore means paying attention to more than just what happens in doctors’ surgeries and hospitals.
Currently, our chances of living a long, active and fulfilled life are heavily determined by where we are born and our financial circumstances. The COVID-19 pandemic has both highlighted and exacerbated these inequalities, underlining the urgent need for action.
Groundwork tackles health inequalities through strengthening the social infrastructure in local communities, enabling people to make positive choices about their lives. Our work supports people facing multiple challenges – living in isolation or with significant physical and mental health conditions, in communities with few facilities, limited employment prospects and vulnerable to extreme weather events.
We help people improve the physical environment in their local areas so that it protects and promotes health, for example through tackling air pollution, reducing vulnerability to fuel poverty, making improvements to green space and increasing connection with nature. We also help people succeed in education and find fulfilling work, which are fundamental to our life chances, wellbeing and sense of purpose.
Groundwork welcomes the commitment to prevention and social prescribing in the NHS Long Term Plan. However, we would like to see greater ambition on public health and recognition of the vital role community action can play in preventing and addressing ill-health. Investment in public health budgets and neighbourhood services is needed to strengthen the social infrastructure that communities depend on to live healthy and happy lives.
With the right support and encouragement, communities can provide invaluable support networks for people at risk of ill health or living with long-term conditions and create healthy, inclusive, sustainable neighbourhoods that improve quality of life for every resident.