Kieron Boyle, Chief Executive, Guy's and St Thomas' Charity
Mar 07, 2017
So what does that mean in practice? Well, a lot remains the same. We’re an independent, charitable foundation and our purpose continues to be to work in partnership with Guy's and St Thomas NHS Foundation Trust and others to improve the health of people in Lambeth and Southwark. Within that, though, we’re making some important changes under the hood.
The key idea behind many of these changes is place. Or, more specifically, maximising the opportunities presented by focusing on a specific geographic area, where we plan to be around for the long term.
Our place is Lambeth and Southwark. Like much of London, they’re vibrant places to live and work. They are densely populated and have very diverse populations – a rich social and ethnic mix, including large black and LGBT communities. Over 100 different languages are spoken here. And like many London boroughs, they have areas of affluence and deprivation. Over a third of people in Southwark live in the most deprived pockets in England, and one in four in Lambeth live in poverty.
We think this mix – urban, diverse and deprived – is an important one. It tracks against many of the most complex health challenges of our time. And so progress in learning about what works in improving health, given these starting conditions, has relevance to a wide and international audience.
Our plan is to bring a precise, place-based approach to our work. Broadly this means layering up and connecting a range of interventions so they can become more than the sum of their parts.
We’re focusing down on a small number of programmes, addressing complex health issues that stand out in Lambeth and Southwark and are prevalent in other urban, deprived and diverse areas across the UK. The first two of these programmes aim to reduce childhood obesity and improve the health and care of people with multiple long-term conditions, and we’ll add others over time.
We then plan to take a structured approach to how we achieve impact. First, that means bringing great minds together, both within and outside the NHS, to come at problems from different angles. We plan to take time to really understand the issues and what they mean for communities in our boroughs. Second, that means partnering with a wide range of people and organisations – anyone with the very best approaches and drive to make them happen. We’ll work together and support them with what they need to be successful. And third, that means testing and adapting as we go along, and sharing what we learn with others. We hope that over time our insights will be helpful for others around the world.
Some of this will feel different to people who have worked with us in the past. In the main, we’re moving away from being a classic grant-giving organisation. This is because we believe we can achieve more by being more proactive, by focussing on targeted interventions and by providing better support to those we work with.
In practical terms, we're no longer asking people to fill in an application form on our website. Instead, we're actively starting conversations and seeking out ideas that focus on a small number of programmes which we are developing jointly with others.
At the same time, we’re looking to increase the support we provide within Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust. If you’re part of the team at the Trust, you can still request funding made available through charitable donations, which is dedicated to supporting your work to improve patient experience and staff welfare.
So that’s our new approach. We’re really excited by the potential of what we could achieve. But of course a strategic plan is just that, a plan, and it’s in the doing that matters. All of which is a way of saying we’re going to need your help.
Fortunately, we know there are many others who want to solve the same issues as us. So we want to hear from anyone who shares our interests or has an idea. If you are one of them, do get in touch.