Unequal distribution of power across a place and its population can be one of the fundamental causes of health inequalities. We use the concept of ‘power’ in terms of our capacity to do, or not to do something; but also, in relation to inferring responsibility. Power, or lack of power, can have an important impact on people’s circumstances and therefore their health.
Power doesn’t belong to one person but exists in the relationships between people and groups of people. Inequalities in income, wealth and the distribution of power lead to the better off in society being able to take advantage of their circumstances to a greater extent. One consequence of this advantage is that they have persistently better health.
In the exercise of our power as a partnership, we want to shift power closer to our communities and local people. Our vision relies on a vibrant, sustainable, and resilient Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise Sector across our district, which is fully integrated into our partnership. The VCSE is an equal stakeholder and partner, influencing decisions, delivering solutions and innovation for the benefit of the population and offers critical insight when planning and shaping strategy and services system wide.
We want to shift more of our focus to the wider determinants of health and the crucial role of communities and local people. We all want control, autonomy, and mastery over our lives, it is of fundamental importance to our overall health and wellbeing. To achieve this, we need a model of shared responsibility with local communities, where people are active and engaged partners in the development of healthy places, not merely consumers of care services.
Our VCSE partners are experienced and knowledgeable in this, much more so than traditional models of service. We are committed to building on the best of what we already have, to the importance of our shared purpose and we will enact this with and through our partnership. Careful design can be healing. By paying attention to what matters to people, the reality of their lives, we can be part of creating a new model of healthy, vibrant communities.
Our partnership has the ability and motivation to work in a way that looks at what matters to people on a personal level as well as for the health of our whole population. To enact this, we must foster the conditions in which it can occur by inverting the power to act.
Where it makes sense, we will work on bigger geographical footprints for those issues that are better dealt with at scale, those things that cannot be done at a more local level. Power held regionally in our ICS will be devolved to us at Place. We will continue this by devolving power to the community and moving it ever close to our population, to the individual.
Our health, the health of our communities, and wider society go hand in hand.