East London Hopefuls

Written by Elizabeth Bayliss. Posted in Uncategorized

East London Hopefuls had their first Annual General Meeting last week. African and Cribbean people with lived experience of the mental health system have organised themselves into an organisation in Newham. Emmanual Camille is the Chair and Sidney Millin is the Development worker. The AGM, held in Durning Hall, was well attended and well orchestrated by Aronda Atkinson.  There was delicious cake to welcome us, with poetry, singing, speechesand drama followed by wonderful a wonderful Caribbean meal.

The mood was celebratory and there was hopefulness about feeling good, not being written off, not willing to be seen in terms of a health condition but insisting on being seen in terms of who they are and the gifts they bring to this world.  The newsletter is very good and members were justly proud of it.

I was honoured to be there. This is what I said at the end to sum up:

East London Hopefuls! African and Caribbean people together, working together, with love, with hope, offering mutual support, sharing strength from the inside.

The wider society needs you, your kindness, your bravery, your determination, your generosity, you depth, your creativity, your honour, your dignity.

We must be judged on the basis of our intentions in this life, and what we learn as we go through it. So make your witness, speak it out.  Reject the labels imposed and embrace your lived experiences, claim your wisdom. Speak it out.

Your wisdom enriches my life and the lives of those around us and I thank you.


Feel What You Feel When You Feel it

Written by Elizabeth Bayliss. Posted in Uncategorized

We, here at Social Action for Health, wish you a constructive New Year; one in which you are able to feel what you feel when you feel it; one in which you are able to explore what you want to explore you, with whom you want to explore it; one in which you can take action when you want to and you can be still when you to be.

Stillness and slow quiet are particularly precious in this speedy world. Sometimes a pause can enable us to see the tensions and blockages in front of us.

We are resolving in SAfH to review the progress of our work on a more regular basis, asking of ourselves those tough questions, like, is our work useful and helpful? If so, how?  Do our intentions for our work convert into a greater sense of independence in the people who participate in that work from local communities?

We aim to reduce dependency. We will be aiming to find ways to assess this increasing independence , in ways that make sense to local people.

We hope you feel able to take the initiative in your life in 2013, to be of use in your community, to value others as you would be valued.

With love,


Elizabeth Bayliss

Chief Executive

Don’t cut us out

Written by Elizabeth Bayliss. Posted in Uncategorized

The National Coalition for Independent Action (NCIA), held this year in partnership with the TUC was refreshing and reassuring!
The theme was outsourcing and austerity and the civil society and attracted 150 people from mixed backgrounds.

I co-led a workshop on mental health, social care and the effect of the cuts, with Barry Pickthall from the “Don’t cut us out campaign”.

We talked about the awful impact of cuts in care packages on individuals and their caters and that austerity is not because there is not enough money in this British economy which remains the sixth largest in the world, but because priorities have shifted, away from care and public responsibility for the poorest and most vulnerable in our society towards care for people who have unearned income. We felt that if the cuts were really about saving money, adjoined up approach to prevention would be promoted, across professional lines (doctors, lawyers, teachers, social workers, pharmacists, police, nurses would work together  on a local basis to maximise help and positive value).

We are facing a situation in which the increasing number of people without work are relying on a social welfare system that treats them as liars and cheats, a system in which the assessment process itself is so manifestly incompetent that 70pc of cases going to appeal are successful. Cost is clearly not a driver!

It was good to be energetically questioning the mainstream media discourse and affirmed that we are in the right place in SAfH, working on the ground with local people in direct situations, helping people to learn for themselves how to manage more effectively their engagements with professionals.

Welcome to the New SAfH Website

Written by Elizabeth Bayliss. Posted in Uncategorized

Welcome to the new SAfH website – we hope you find it useful and want to engage with it.


I will be reflecting regularly on our work and its implications. I am hoping for feedback!


Social Action for Health is a community development agency, working alongside local people who find themselves outside the mainstream of society for one reason or another.  We begin by engaging with people in their communities and across different communities on the ground, on their terms.


So, we start with the people.  Our interest is in reducing inequalities in health and well being and our offer is to work with local people in different communities, whether geographical, cultural, ethnic or interest based, to build up people’s own capacity to improve their health and well being.


Our staff team is made up of salaried and sessional workers who are from the communities with which we engage. This gives us the capacity to work in mother tongue to enable a deeper and richer engagement than would otherwise be possible.


We finance our work by taking on contracted projects to deliver specific health related impacts of one sort or another. 25 projects a year result in a wide range of outcomes and positive results for local people. These include an increase in screening uptake locally; the engagement of mothers in the local maternity services liaison committee, weight reduction in adults, improved self management through social exercise and healthy eating for people at risk due to diabetes, people getting accurate information and advice from a community advisor, reducing the pressure on GPs.


In addition to these impacts, the social value of our work runs across the individual projects, through communities, lifting expectations and creating a sense of empowerment. It is rewarding indeed to see people take control of their own well being, initiating action that leads not only to health improvement but also to a developing sense of autonomy. We see it a lot, in our workers and in our participants.


Last year we worked directly with 11,000 local people, in different ways, on different projects, on different themes. This experience with so many people gives us a broad picture and because we work incrementally with communities and have done so over many years, a deep picture too.  There are patterns that emerge which we endeavour to capture somehow, before they change.  Working in community means working with constant change, as people in their informal lives cope with the impact of political decisions taken at the national or even global level; with the fall out from economic turmoil, war and violence, environmental pressures.


This new website is one step in the process of capturing and communicating meaning, as it emerges from our work. Meaning is complex and subjective – always an interpretation and we make no apology for the fact that we interpret what we witness in local communities.  The usefulness of our interpretation – useful both for local people on the ground and useful for decision makers in increasing their ability to be responsive is the measure of our value as an agency.


Through writing this blog, I hope to open up the meaning of our work for scrutiny and comment.  Do join me on the journey.