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.