https://publichealthmatters.blog.gov.uk/2014/06/23/creating-an-effective-platform-for-partnership-working/

Creating an effective ‘Platform’ for partnership working

platform logoA key aspect of PHE’s vision is the recognition that our work on improving and protecting health and on reducing health inequalities is best done in partnership with others: no one organisation can deliver in isolation our society’s ambitions for the public’s health. In the East Midlands, one of our earliest priorities was to carry out a stocktake of existing work across the public health system, with a view to retaining those initiatives and programmes that were clearly adding value. As a result, we made an early commitment to continue the work of the East Midlands Platform for Health and Wellbeing.  PHE took over the co-ordination and hosting arrangements for The Platform from East Midlands Councils, retaining a steering group which continues to be the driving force behind The Platform’s work. Established in 2009, The Platform is the only one of its kind in the country and is, essentially, a partnership with the shared aim of improving health and wellbeing in the East Midlands. There are currently in excess of 50 members – ranging from large national companies to smaller local businesses. Members include Slimming World, British Gas, E.ON, Pepsico, NHS organisations, local authorities, third sector organisations and academic institutions. The strength of The Platform lies in its collaborative approach and the commitment of its members. Upon joining The Platform, each member makes a commitment to delivering improvements to health and wellbeing. A requirement of the commitment is that it must be something that is over and above the day to day work of the organisation. There are many examples of good work arising from The Platform, such as:

  • The opportunity for members to share their experiences has fostered innovations in service delivery. For example, Slimming World has piloted workplace weight management programmes with other Platform members, thereby enabling Slimming World to evaluate the methodology while providing a free service to the host organisation’s employees.
  • Through its membership, The Platform has access to activity and outcome data across a range of services. This will help to improve our understanding of the profile of service users and will help in the evaluation of a range of lifestyle services provided by the independent sector and public sector.
  • Networking has allowed  best practice to be shared across the membership, supported by keynote speakers providing evidence and examples to support the aims of The Platform
  • Without the Platform many of the members may not have had a sufficiently focussed health improvement programme for their staff
  • The Platform has supported the development of a healthy workplace network, which can  now be used to support a regional excellence award for business

Earlier this year, I was delighted to accept the invitation to be the Chairman for The Platform.  In this capacity I look forward to continuing to give my personal support to the work of the partnership as an exemplar in collaborative working to improve the public’s health in the East Midlands. As the African proverb reminds us: If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. For more details about the Platform, please contact Ann Goodwin, or visit http://www.regionalplatform.org.uk (Please note that the website is being updated and refreshed so some of the content may be out of date). From our work in the East Midlands, we have clear examples of collaborative working between the private and public sector to improve the public's health. Have you done something similar? We would be interested in examples of collaborations from elsewhere to help us develop future local initiatives. Featured image copyright Platform for Health and Wellbeing. Used with permission.

2 comments

  1. Bren

    Hello Meng,

    Thank you for the interesting blog and the working trust and working relationships at the East Midland Platform for Health and Well Being.

    I'd like to know how the Platform has been used to tackle health and social inequalities, and the significance of this for people and communities who may well be underserved and who's voices are not always heard.

    Congratulations on your appointment as Chair too.

    Best wishes,

    Bren.

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    • Meng Khaw

      Bren

      Thank you for your comments.

      Reducing health inequalities, where appropriate, is one of the core commitments of members of The Platform. We know that one of the most effective ways of working with ‘easy to overlook’ groups is through organisations that work closely with them - many such organisations are in the voluntary and community sector.

      The Platform provides members the opportunity for mutual support and sharing of experience about their work on reducing health inequalities and the voluntary and community sector plays an important role in this. There is also a lot to learn from other network members; such as Slimming World, who are keen to explore the effect of deprivation on client outcomes.

      All Platform members are employers and a high proportion of their workforce are low skilled, low paid, mainly male manual workers. They traditionally do not have, or seek, ‘healthy lifestyles’. Workplace health initiatives in themselves will work towards reducing health inequalities.

      Examples from the private sector include:
      • Union Learn & Courtaulds - Engaging staff around sustainability - changing behaviour, saving resources.
      • Label Appel - SME with 47 employees, cutting down to a four day week - turned things around by focussing on staff wellbeing with the support of another Platform member. Staff developed additional skills becoming ‘health champions’, become more motivated and engaged, now full time and improving profits
      • Let’s Get Cooking provided courses of 3 training workshops in healthy eating and cooking to employees of Platform member organisations.
      • E-on ‘Keep the Beat’- an educational cardiovascular programme for all E.O.N employees – evaluation support provided by other members.
      • Walkers Snack Foods (Pepsico) established a Health & Wellness programme evaluation support provided by other members including healthier food in canteen, an ‘Eat well campaign’ , new gym/ leisure facility and work with local weight management, nutrition, cooking skills and physical activity support services

      Examples from the voluntary and community sector include:
      • Sustrans -leading work on the value of sourcing products and services that will increase active travel (cycling and walking etc) and reduce carbon emissions. Supporting other platform member organisations in developing active travel plans and looking at the steps they need to take to enable their employees to travel actively
      • Ecoworks Nottingham - ‘Local Food in the Workplace’ veg bag scheme in organisations/premises/locations with 25+ employees across Nottingham City includes offering subsidised boxes to those on a low income.
      • Community Sports Trust - Translating their evidence based ‘Village Games’ to the workplace

      • Nottingham Forest Charitable Trust – ‘The Forest Factor’ - improving the physical and mental health of children and their families by:
      1) Educating children and parents on the benefits of improving their eating and exercise habits, to reduce the levels of childhood obesity in Nottingham and to provide activities that help support the improvement in children’s mental and physical wellbeing.
      2) Delivering a range of Physical activity sessions

      Locally, the voluntary and community sector in the East Midlands has requested support on developing the capacity and capability regarding service evaluation. During the present period of austerity, the ability to demonstrate the impact of services on Improving health and reducing health inequalities is all the more important. There is an ongoing collaborative project between PHE in the East Midlands and the voluntary and community sector to scope out the training and development needs on evaluation skills in the sector. We anticipate this pilot will help develop a model for building capacity in the sector.

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