Social Action for Health is a community development charity, which works alongside marginalised local people and their communities towards justice, equality, better health and wellbeing.
We currently operate in the London Boroughs of Hackney, Tower Hamlets, Waltham Forest, Newham, Barking, Ealing, Camden, Greenwich and Redbridge with a contingent of full time, part time, sessional staff and volunteers. Most staff members are local people trained by Social Action for Health to work within local communities and put their language skills to professional use. Our team includes local people trained by Social Action for Health to work with their community in their mother tongue, including Bangla, Somali, Turkish, Tamil, Kurdish, Congolese, Gujarati, Urdu, Arabic, Nepalese, Polish, Vietnamese and English.
Four values shape our work:
- We start with the people
- People have the right to take control of their own lives
- People’s health can be improved by tackling isolation, poverty, racism and unemployment
- Healthy communities are good for the whole society
Our approach to the complexity of community development is described by our “Spiral of Participation” which is built on the recognition that there are different levels of social organisation and engagement:
Connecting with strangers involves outreaching to make contact with new people from different communities, inviting their engagement in social activities. People might accept the invitation because they want to come together with others in a new situation, because they want information, or because they want to share their experiences with others who have ears to hear them. Relationships are valued, nurtured, each person’s contribution in a group setting is honoured and out of this honouring comes new skills, that include an appreciation of people’s different ways of being. New social networks spring up, existing social networks gain new energy as people find common cause and appreciation that public life can make fruitful ground for wellbeing.
Social Action for Health runs approximately 20 projects a year, between them covering 4 areas of work:
- Community Health Development (eg. Health Guides informing people about how to use services)
- Doing Your Part (eg. Lorig self management courses for people with chronic conditions)
- Networks and alliances (eg. Information and advice to people in health settings)
- Action Research Training and Employment (eg. ESOL classes)