Carole Coulon, Portfolio Manager, Guy's and St Thomas' Charity
Jun 18, 2019
It’s been a busy 18 months in the Faraday ward, in Southwark, since we launched our Neighbourhood Scheme back in December 2017.
Since then, we have been working with a group of local and national organisations to deliver coordinated activities in the neighbourhood; encouraging healthier eating and more physical activity, aiming to improve people's health and address health inequalities. The work exemplifies our place-based approach to tackling health issues and is part of our childhood obesity programme.
So far, we’ve seen some exciting work in Faraday – we’ve reached 440 families and nearly 1,600 children. Nearly 400 children have gone to multisport holiday camps run by Burgess Sports, part of its work to make sure sport is accessible and affordable to all children in the area. Meanwhile, School Food Matters has been working with local schools to make positive changes to their food environments, and Sustrans has been promoting cycling and walking to hundreds of children and parents. In addition, 180 families have joined Alexandra Rose Charity's Fruit and Veg Vouchers project, with over 9,000 vouchers redeemed for free fruit and vegetables at 11 traders on East Street Market. This is helping families on low incomes to eat more fruit and veg and cook more healthy meals from scratch, while boosting local trade in the process.
But this is only the beginning. As we enter the next investment phase for our Faraday Neighbourhood Scheme, we've been reflecting on the lessons we’ve learnt.
We know that local people pay little attention to the ward they live in; instead, they define their locality through how they relate to and move around it, influenced by the location of shopping, leisure and transport links. Recognising this, we always intended to be flexible about the boundaries of our Neighbourhood Scheme and we have quickly outgrown our initial boundaries.
Limiting outreach to strict ward boundaries doesn’t work because the paucity of community assets, such as schools and community centres, makes it difficult for those delivering services to establish and grow these. We’ve learned that outreach to families is more effective through neighbourhoods as defined by the people who benefit from those services.
Local people in neighbouring wards experience similar poor health outcomes. Faraday, North Walworth and Camberwell Green – areas with connecting boundaries – all have similar rates of childhood obesity.
Over the past months few working closely with partners on the scheme, it has become clear that, if we’re going to make a significant impact, we need to expand the boundaries of the Faraday Neighbourhood Scheme. With that in mind, we’re starting to offer services across the three neighbouring wards – Faraday, North Walworth and Camberwell Green.
It’s also become clear that we need to make difficult decisions about what activities and combinations of activities will deliver the bold impact we want to see.
We will continue to invest across Faraday, North Walworth and Camberwell Green, over the next three years, and aim to support nearly 3,000 children to achieve a healthier weight. We have already committed just over £1m.
Firstly, we are scaling up the Alexandra Rose Charity Fruit and Veg Vouchers Scheme, which has seen fantastic uptake over the last year and, through expansion, will be able to reach up to 1,000 more families.
Secondly, we’re really excited to welcome PACT to work with us to pilot its new ‘Cook, Eat and Take Away’ project – a weekly community cooking club, co-designed with residents, where local parents come together to cook and eat healthy food, take a meal home to their family and store the rest for later in community freezers.
As we incorporate and expand activities, we’re letting go of others. For example, as our understanding of needs grows, we are moving beyond giving educational support for families cooking on tight budgets to providing a physical kitchen and space for storing meals.
All our partners bring their own expertise and solutions but, as our Faraday Neighbourhood Scheme grows and develops, coordinating the delivery on the ground and measuring the collective impact is becoming more complex.
We are working with Shift Design and The Social Innovation Partnership to develop a collective impact framework for the scheme and implement measurement tools to better understand our impact. We are also investing in the organisational development of our delivery partners so they can effectively expand their services. Finally, we are mapping ours and others’ services to understand what more we can do to address the gaps in provision going forward.
We’re looking forward to the next phase of our Scheme, building on what we’ve done so far, to make an even greater difference to local health.