Ealing Borough Given Funding to Tackle Health Inequality

Researchers and local communities to be brought together

Community boards will be formed to help researchers meet the needs of local peopleCommunity boards will be formed to help researchers meet the needs of local people. Picture: UKRI

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December 7, 2023

Ealing Council is one of eleven local authorities across the country to have been awarded £5million to tackle health inequalities.

The National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) is providing the funding to create a research capacity collaboration with the local community and leading academics.

The aim is to tackle issues which have led to poorer health and shorter lives for disadvantaged communities.

The council has formed a new team called NIHR Health Determinants Research Collaboration Ealing. Working with partners from local community organisations and research institutions, the team was behind the bid for funding which, over the next 5 years, will provide support to help understand better where health challenges lie.

The funding committee was impressed that the Ealing bid had a strong focus on community involvement and engagement with the borough’s voluntary and community sector as a core part of the application process, including as part of the interview team. Partners from the voluntary community sector include Golden Opportunities for Skills and Development, Ealing and Hounslow Community and Voluntary Service (EHCVS), and Southall Community Alliance. Ealing was the only London borough to win funding in this round.

Gurpreet Rana the chief executive officer of EHCVS said, “This opportunity will enhance research skills in the sector, support research development in active community settings, and develop strong and trusting relationships between voluntary, charity, and faith sector organisations and academic partners. The project will enable communities to shape where they live."

The council’s research academia partners in this project are the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Imperial College London, and the Institute of Development Studies. Professor Matt Egan from London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine said, “This is an important opportunity to work with Ealing and its communities, as well as incredible partners from other universities. By working together, we can learn more about creating building blocks for better health across Ealing and beyond.”

Councillor Peter Mason, the leader of Ealing Council said, “We are delighted that the work we have done so far on building a culture of learning at the council, and on bringing our communities into decision-making, has been recognised by the NIHR panel. We are really looking forward to getting stuck into this project and building our capacity for meaningful research that will help us change the lives of Ealing residents for the better.”

Councillor Josh Blacker, the council’s cabinet member for healthy lives said, “The conditions in which we are born, grow, live, work, and age impact our health. Creating a society where everyone can thrive needs all the right building blocks in place: good education, quality housing, stable jobs, and good pay. But for too many of our communities, blocks are missing or are inadequate, and we need to learn how to fix the gaps.

“The council is already tackling these inequalities through commitments in our council plan, our health and wellbeing strategy, ‘Together in Ealing,’ and our response to Ealing’s independent Race Equality Commission. This funding will build on our momentum for change. By changing our capacity to learn and improve, it will help us to better understand the health issues local people face, which in turn will inform positive actions across all areas of life in Ealing.”

Professor Brian Ferguson, Director of the NIHR Public Health Research Programme, said, “People living in communities across the country face major challenges that are impacting on their health. Once again, NIHR is taking a huge stride forward in empowering local government to develop research to improve their communities’ health and wellbeing.

“Continued HDRC innovation will boost partnerships between local government and the academic sector, enabling local authorities to make better evidence-informed decisions - critical given the current pressures on funding. We expect the HDRC areas to engage actively with their local communities to listen to people’s views and involve them appropriately in shaping and undertaking research.

“By focusing on the wider determinants of health such as employment, housing, education and the physical environment, the areas we are supporting have a tremendous opportunity to make a lasting impact on health inequalities and wider deprivation."

Stating in early 2024, the first phases of the 5-year programme will involve establishing new research structures, including a Communities Board to help the collaboration’s research agenda meets the needs of local people.

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