CHESS (Community Health Engagement Survey Solutions) is an innovative, data-driven community engagement process. Using the CHESS App, people come together to investigate their local environment, assess the factors that make it easier or harder for them to live healthily, and identify positive changes they can make as a community. It was created by C3’s Dr. Denise Stevens and includes a mobile tool that equips local communities to identify and map the daily barriers they face when making choices about diet, activity and healthy living.
As a partner in Project ASPIRE, C3 is engaging with 7 different communities across the south of England and the north of France to survey their environments using CHESS, with a view to reducing obesity and enhancing employability. There is a clear link between areas of high economic deprivation and areas where obesity levels are above average. This is true of northern France and southern England too. Communities in these areas need support to combat those twin issues. CHESS has provided community members with a different lens through which to critically analyse their environment and encourage them to consider the impact of the built environment on their abilities, individually and as a community, to live healthier lives.
Abbeville is a commune in the Somme department, within the Hauts-de-France region in northern France. It is the chef-lieu of one of the arrondissements of Somme. It has a population of around 23,000 people and lies in the northern part of France’s second-poorest region. One million of Hauts-de-France’s inhabitants live on less than the median income.
Meeting With Partners
C3 and Mission locale Picardie Maritime (MLPM) staff held multiple planning meetings, both remotely and in person. Two site visits were conducted, which enabled C3 to walk the area, capture and list the existing assets to ensure a range of assets could be mapped, plan a walking route, and visit a suitable venue that could be used as a meeting place. In this case, the venue chose was the Maison de Quartier Menchecourt near the site of Abbeville’s old sugar refinery. C3 also researched local and national data sets and local authority publications, analysing maps of Abbeville to create a digital asset map.
The community participants were selected by MLPM staff. Communities represented the local community and parents of school-age children. On the day, participants gathered at the Maison de Quartier Menchecourt.
The CHESS Walk
The CHESS™ walk began with a welcome session at the maison de quartier Menchecourt. C3 delivered a presentation on disease prevention, risk factors for most Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) and the influence of the built environment on people’s food choices and levels of physical activity. C3 also encouraged residents to share their thoughts on their experiences of life in Abbeville. Each participant received their own tablet and was trained in how to use CHESS and then encouraged to practice using the tablets using the example of a local restaurant review. The walk began at the entrance of the maison de quartier, turning left into 1 Rue des Argillières, then on to Rue de Haut, passing through the Intermarché at the La Sucrerie retail park and back via Rue Jean Mennesson. The participants were very enthusiastic, comfortable with using the tablets and remained engaged throughout. At the end, a sit-down meeting was held in the shade of trees outside the maison de quartier Menchecourt to discuss the experience.
The CHESS™ tool allowed participants to collect quantitative data about the local food environment and how the way the town is constructed affects exercise habits. C3 asked residents about their own experience of living in Abbeville allowing us to collect qualitative data during the walk itself. The CHESS™ walk in Abbeville made it possible to identify places to evaluate including:
- Indoor and outdoor physical activity spaces
Once all the data was collected, it was sent to a member of C3’s team responsible for analysing the data collected. This will then be discussed between C3 and the participants at an insight session to be held on the 21st of September 2021.