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​Setting the context and laying the foundations for future transformation

Anne Hooper and Russell Cartwright presenting at the NCDP meeting in January 2019.jpgWe want to have open and honest conversations with our communities and voluntary organisations in Lewisham. In 2018/19 one of our priorities has been to increase awareness of the context in which we are operating – the challenges we face now and in the future, and to develop connections to work together with our residents to transform Lewisham’s health and care services to meet these challenges. To do this we developed messages we called our ‘overarching narrative’. 

We had great help from our Public Reference Group and Healthwatch to prepare these messages. We also gathered some data about people’s understanding from different groups and in different contexts: People’s Day, Bowel Cancer Support Group, Neighbourhood Community Development Partnership (neighbourhood 4), Lewisham Mental Health Carers Forum, Fresher’s Week at Goldsmiths University and Healthwatch hubs.

We were then ready to share our message with some of the main groups in Lewisham. Between October 18 and February 19 Anne Hooper, our Lay Member and Russell Cartwright our Head of Communications and Engagement attended all four Neighbourhood Community Development Partnerships (NCDPs) in Lewisham presenting and discussing the narrative

Russell said: “Attending the NCDPs was really helpful as we got to meet so many local community and voluntary groups. We made some excellent connections, and had some really helpful discussions about the health and wellbeing challenges that we all face in Lewisham, laying the foundations for future partnerships.  

“We found that many community groups are already focusing on common interests – supporting residents to have a healthy lifestyle, reduce isolation and signpost to the right information. We also heard there are plenty of things which can be improved and we hope to maintain the dialogue.” 

Anne Hooper, our Lay Member for Public Engagement, said: “It has been a pleasure to be at the NCDP meetings and have the opportunity to discuss with people what we have all achieved in improving health care for Lewisham residents and to look at developments for the future - really impressed with the energy and enthusiasm to work together and that people at the meeting were already working on many of the things the CCG is trying to achieve.”

We also met representatives from the Save Lewisham Hospital (SLH) campaign, and Lewisham Pensioners Forum (LPF) in November 2018. They shared with us their thoughts and offered suggestions. One clear message was that we need to take into consideration not only the health needs, but other determinants of health such as housing and socio-economic issues, taking a holistic approach for Lewisham residents. 

The Chair of the Pensioners Forum, Bridgit Sam-Bailey, kindly reviewed and commented on all the aspects of our messages: “Prevention should be at the top of your priorities, and follow-up at the end. How this is achieved is complex.  Encouraging people to lead healthy lifestyles might be good for most, if we can get them to participate in what is on offer. Healthy diets is another level. Keeping the brain active is one of the most important ways to combat many of the illnesses of the mind and body, including the brain.”

We would like to thank all of the representatives who came to talk to us, Voluntary Action Lewisham for uploading our presentation on their website, and to the NCDP managers from Community Connections for sharing the presentation with all their members. We will continue our dialogue with these groups and others in the coming months.