by our RBG Correspondent | Woolwich
|* Lord Mawson and other visitors to Woolwich Dockyard estate where|
they took a group photo with a sign that read `Dare To Dream'.
In a fact-finding visit last on February 1, the estate welcomed social entrepreneur Lord Mawson, who was keen to see the work being done to involve local communities in improving people’s health and wellbeing.
The estate has been working for three years on a series of projects that are starting to have a real impact on residents’ health and well-being. Funded by the Big Lottery, the projects range from a scheme supporting local families to eat healthily, to a community garden, and from a family learning group to a community café.
Now the scheme – which is part of a programme called Well London - has won the attention of campaigners, academics and funding bodies who are keen to see the approach adopted more widely.
Lord Mawson, who chairs Well North, a similar programme running in the north of England, heard first-hand from Woolwich Dockyard residents about the improvements that the scheme has brought about - both for the health of individual residents, and for the healthier way in which members of the community now support one another.
The aim of the visit was to build stronger links between organisations across England and Wales that are putting local communities in the driving seat when it comes to improving people’s health and wellbeing.
Also taking part in the visit were representatives of the Royal Society of Public Health and Public Health Wales, as well as members of the team from University of East London that coordinates the Well London project across the capital.
Lord Mawson, who has made it his lifelong mission to improve the lives of ordinary people and helping them to become independent, said: “I’m interested in what you do to challenge communities. The State has made profoundly dependent cultures. I want to get people to take ownership.
“Today I’ve seen people doing stuff – developing land into gardens, parents making things, people getting active.
“The next stage is getting entrepreneurial. We have to move beyond grants,” he said.
Cllr David Gardner, the Royal Borough of Greenwich’s Cabinet Member for Health, Social Care and Public Health, said: “I am grateful to Lord Mawson for visiting the Woolwich Dockyard estate to see for himself the great work going on in the royal borough as part of the Well London project.
“Well London provides a really important framework for local communities covering a range of different services and the fact that projects across the country are starting up using this model is great recognition of the work and success we have achieved at a local level.”
Estate resident Lydia Pratt added: “The Well London project helps me know what’s going in the community and gives me a good opportunity to get talking to neighbours and other people in the local area. The project also gives me a little bit of support with my job hunting as well. Overall it is a good way of keeping in contact with the local community and that’s really valuable – it’s something that we can be proud of as residents.”
Shirley Cramer CBE, Chief Executive of RSPH, said: “RSPH has been privileged to be a partner in Well London, which is a pioneer in a new wave of community-based health and wellbeing projects."
“We recognise the critical importance of place-based interventions with communities playing an instrumental role in supporting the public’s health and wellbeing. People living in communities are often best placed to know what they need to support their own health and wellbeing and also what will be most effective in having a significant and sustainable impact. Our role is to support this by ensuring residents have the right mix of skills, capabilities and confidence to empower them to effect positive change where they live.”
|* Lord Mawson meets families on Woolwich Dockyard Estate.|