Progress on efforts to improve health and wellbeing

PUBLISHED: 12 January 2023

Colchester City Council and local strategic partners continue to work together to improve residents’ long- term health and wellbeing.

This update provides a progress report on almost £3.5m of funding awarded by the local NHS Suffolk and North East Essex Integrated Care Board and East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust, for the commissioning and delivery of health and wellbeing services to tackle health inequalities and transform lives across the city.

Colchester City Council has been working for several years with ICB colleagues, primarily through the North East Essex Health and Wellbeing Alliance in which the council plays a leading role. Funding from the Essex Local Delivery Pilot (LDP) and Sport England has seen the area receive significant funding with the aim of decreasing physical inactivity among vulnerable populations through encouraging lasting behaviour change. The council is now well-placed to use its position to influence some of the main determinants of health and wellbeing, such as housing and the environment, loneliness and social isolation and thereby reduce the longer-term reliance upon statutory health services and other bodies.

Before the Covid pandemic and cost of living crisis, the wider determinants of health and wellbeing, such as housing, education, employment and the environment were already informing integrated approaches to delivering the support and interventions necessary to improve people’s lives. But since the pandemic and cost of living crisis, addressing these underlying factors has become even more fundamental in the prevention and reduction of inequalities that can lead to poor health and lifestyle-choices throughout life.

Some examples of how the funding is being used includes:

£400k for initiatives to tackle inequalities in health and wellbeing, providing:
  • A campaign to highlight support with the cost of living crisis support available to residents
  • Community360 support – to open the One Colchester Hub for additional evenings and Saturdays and to develop at least six new activity groups, increasing the opportunity for families and households to access community support and reduce social isolation. On average, 1,200 people access the service per month, with over 2,000 being helped in December 2022
  • Further research into how local community assets can help individuals and communities thrive

£265k for Healthy Homes, providing:
  • A domestic energy efficiency officer to advise residents on ways to reduce home energy costs and access funding to improve energy efficiency, who has so far helped over 50 owner occupied/private rented properties become more energy efficient, making them better for the environment and more cost effective.
  • A tenancy sustainment officer enabling Colchester Borough Homes (CBH) to take on more casework to assist vulnerable tenants to sustain their tenancies

£200k for health system and communities, providing:
  • A community enabling officer, with a thematic lead on inequalities, to engage with a range of communities across Colchester to understand and help them address their specific needs and challenges

£750k to promote physical activity, including:
  • A contribution towards Essex Pedal Power and Wheels for All in Colchester
  • Expanding ParkPlay, which is currently being delivered in Greenstead, Old Heath, and is set to be rolled out in Monkwick in the new year.
  • Expanding StreetTag, an app that gamifies physical activity with tags on a virtual map, into care homes and schools in Colchester.

£800k on housing improvements, delivering:
  • A programme to improve energy performance in council properties, including major project to upgrade properties acquired by the council to an Energy Rating B. 
  • A smart thermostat project with Colchester Borough Homes, which will help tenants save money and provide performance data to identify properties that aren’t being heated, measure humidity and calculate the risk of mould growth

£322,200 on a digital access support team, providing:
  • All staff and associated project costs until September 2024. The team works across Colchester and Tendring and is hosted by Colchester City Council.

The significance of the ongoing commitment to close partnership working is reflected in the recent appointment of Laura Taylor-Green to the council’s Senior Board. As the North East Essex Alliance Director, Laura will steer the delivery of a package of measures to support residents to enhance their physical and mental wellbeing through her involvement on the senior team in CCC as well as with partners in TDC and ECC as well as maintaining her director role within the ICB.

Cllr Julie Young, Portfolio Holder for Communities and Housing, said: “This significant funding is enabling us to connect the dots, better understand people’s lived experiences and begin to address some of the root causes that lead to inactivity, social isolation and ill-health – including poor mental health, which we know is a huge problem.

“I am delighted the council is playing such a central role in pursuing the kinds of systemic changes we know are necessary to boost health and wellbeing, meet the needs of local communities through the cost of living crisis and create a lasting legacy of increased participation in physical activity.

“Getting more people to embrace healthy active lifestyles doesn't just help to improve physical and mental wellbeing, it is also an excellent way to bring communities together by overcoming the barriers that prevent some of our most vulnerable and marginalised residents from enjoying a healthier and more fulfilling life.”

Laura Taylor-Green, North East Essex Alliance Director, added: “I am delighted to see the outputs from these previous investments by the CCG (now ICB) have shown benefits for residents, and to be able to share the update on this work with them. The work we have done across our partnership with our teams, over the last two years, has had a significant focus on reducing inequalities and it is our combined ambition to continue close partnership working on this agenda.”

Page last reviewed: 12 January 2023


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