Local initiative making a difference

Updated: Mar 9, 2020

A local charity, Surrey Minority Ethnic Forum (SMEF), has been featured in Health Equity in England: The Marmot Review 10 Years On, a new report on health inequalities in England, published today.

The UCL Institute of Health Equity (IHE) and The Health Foundation have published a new report on the ten-year anniversary of the original review to examine how health inequalities have changed and what progress has been made on tackling the social determinants of health. The report has found that life expectancy in England has stalled, which has not happened since at least 1900 and that investing in the wider conditions in which we live is the most effective way to improve a nation’s health.

Milan Project by SMEF was chosen to appear in the report as an example of local people taking action to improve their neighbourhood and their health and well-being. The project aims to reduce health inequalities for local people by engaging, educating and empowering local people to work together to find solutions to the common economic and social challenges they face living in Great Britain today. The project has seen success in becoming rooted in the two communities and the groups run by the project are helping to build community resilience in local neighbourhoods by creating valuable support networks. Members are growing in confidence and in their profile in the community. The Muslim women in the Surrey Heath group have made a concerted effort to invite women from the wider community to celebration events including the end of Ramadan, which is increasing social cohesion and strengthening community links.

John Hume, Chief Executive of the Trust, said, “This hugely important report demonstrates that health inequalities are widening and life expectancy is stalling. These findings are fuelled by differences in wealth and the conditions into which people are born and live. We’re delighted that projects we fund have been included in this report as examples of positive action in tackling health inequalities. Social connections and collective control both have strong evidence bases as being protective for health. They are also critical foundations for supporting local people to play a very active role in addressing the social determinants of health within their neighbourhoods.

The ultimate responsibility for health inequalities and the social determinants which cause them, rests with the Government and local government, so whilst the third sector can play its part, there needs to be clear and decisive action from decision-makers to stop this alarming trend.”

Findings from the Trust’s Active Communities programme suggest that just two hours of community based activity per week can have a significant impact on reducing feelings of isolation for just £122 per year, per person – or £2.35 per week.

Suzanne Akram, Executive Director, said, “We’re so happy to have been included in such a significant report, and really proud of the work we’ve done so far. It demonstrates that local people know what their communities need, SMEF’s Milan project has demonstrated the importance of being able to have control over our health.”

South East

Southern Health CIC

Tackling health inequalities