C3’s project Prevention in Action aims to address gaps and barriers in knowledge among low-income, disenfranchised, marginalized populations and healthcare providers, around living healthily and making healthy choices. To do this we planned to invite local community members and health care providers to participate in our innovative community engagement digital health strategy known as CHESS™ in three communities in England, Ireland, and France.
This project has been made possible by a Pfizer’s Global Education Award for a Continuing Professional Development Programme.
Prevention in Action, in England
In 2021 C3 Collaborating for Health engaged with residents from Harlesden in the London Borough of Brent, and has attempted to demonstrate how hard it is for people living in disadvantaged areas to live a healthy life. Brent faces significant health challenges but boasts community members who are passionate about raising the life chances and prospects of those living in Brent. The CHESS™ strategy provided a different lens for community members to critically analyse their environment, and it has encouraged them to consider the impact of the built environment on the everyday choices they make for themselves, and for their families.
Brent was particularly badly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, especially in 2020. This CHESS project was undertaken in September 2021, when there were no government restrictions in England. Yet, the impact was still considerable and COVID-19 illness and contacts affected recruitment to both the CHESS walk and insight session. The workload in primary care, particularly the vaccination programmes, meant we were unable to engage with NHS providers, although participants included people connected to health.
The CHESS™ community walks in Harlesden identified the barriers and enablers perceived by community members to living healthy lives – and making healthier choices. Some of these identified barriers, such as the issue of affordability and the food environment, are already widely acknowledged and unsurprising, but the CHESS™ strategy enabled a deeper understanding of other significant barriers to living healthier lifestyles, including access to information and a lack of knowledge and skills.
Community members were invited to a follow-up insight session several weeks after the walk, where data from the CHESS walk was shared and sense-checked – the community members were asked if they felt the CHESS findings represented their experiences of their environments and they agreed that they did.
Individuals were encouraged to generate and share ideas on what changes could be implemented to improve the health choices for people living in Harlesden. These discussions were animated affairs, with residents commenting that the CHESS walk had really opened their eyes to the challenges to healthy living within the community.
Next Steps in Brent
Getting under the skin of the community in Brent through using the CHESS strategy generated passionate debate and community-owned ideas for change to facilitate healthy lifestyles. The insight provided by this CHESS™ process informed the discovery phase of the CHESS™ process in Brent and acted as a lever for ongoing consultation with Brent Council and community members subject to further funding. In November 2021 C3 met with community members, local councillors, and Brent Central MP Dawn Butler to discuss the project findings, and opportunities for further action.
Next steps Prevention in Action France and Ireland
C3 has identified key community and stakeholders in both Ireland and France and will be continuing work on this project in 2022.
Read more about our community projects in France, England and Scotland.