The Community Champions programme uses a dynamic community engagement process to bring people together to build strong communities and local services.
We develop effective solutions for local areas, by giving residents and communities the tools and resources to identify local issues and problems and to come up with their own solutions.
We aim to build the capacity of local estates, neighbourhoods and individuals to work together with local providers and commissioners so that services are better designed to meet local health and social care needs.
We achieve this by:
- Implementing effective and sustainable community-led approaches, particularly in areas of greatest need
- Engaging and investing in people to build and strengthen good health and wellbeing for their communities
- Building confidence, knowledge, skills and capacity of local people
- Working in partnerships with local organisations and agencies to provide volunteering and employment opportunities
Our approach directly reflects the government’s emphasis on community involvement and local ownership, which encourages people to take a proactive role in their local area. Community champions are actively involved in community budget pilots, local regeneration schemes and area-based developments.
A top down approach cannot address the root causes of poor health and wellbeing. The public health strategy ‘Healthy Lives, Healthy People’ (DH 2010) recommends an innovative and responsive approach that is ‘owned by communities and shaped by their needs’ to bring about real change.
We know from national and local evidence that using a community engagement approach is both cost effective and leads to improved health and well being because it:
- Uses local people’s experiential knowledge to design or improve services, leading to more appropriate, effective, cost-effective and sustainable services
- Empowers people by giving them opportunities to co-produce services
- Increases confidence, self-esteem and self-efficacy and gives people an increased sense of control over decisions affecting their lives
- Builds more trust in government bodies by improving accountability and democratic renewal
- Contributes to developing and sustaining social capital and community cohesion
- Encourages health-enhancing attitudes and behaviour
The Community champions programme is delivered by the Tri-Borough Public Health Service, based at Westminster City Council, in partnership with local authorities, voluntary sector organisations, residents and volunteers.