New Development Fund supports drive for Health Champion activity in North East and North Cumbria

Author: Sara Toal
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Five organisations from across the North East and North Cumbria have been successful in securing grants for 2024/25 from the recent Health Champions Development Fund bidding round.

The funding, of up to £10,000 per organisation, will be being used at neighbourhood and place level to support local partnerships between Local Authority Health Champion programmes and VCSE sector organisations working together to reach communities - with a particular focus on Core20Plus5 priorities. The aim of the investment is to develop more sustainable Health Champion projects, building on community assets, increasing capacity of programmes that respond to local needs, and further extending their reach into communities. Grants have been awarded to the following local partnership projects:

Gateshead Local Authority Public Health team will work with a range of community partners to increase Health Champion capacity, build on the abilities of existing champions, develop community assets in response to local needs focussing on Cardio Vascular Disease (CVD).  This will include training, developing resources to reach the most marginalised and vulnerable communities and working with specific male communities to understand the benefits of medications for blood pressure management.

International Community Organisation of Sunderland (ICOS) will work with Sunderland City Council to expand the Health Champions network focussing on women and ethnically minoritised communities. The project will enable for the recruitment/support of a diverse cohort champions well-equipped to provide peer-to-peer support to people from a variety of cultures/backgrounds. They will focus on maternity, severe mental illness and early cancer diagnosis, building an evidence base of what works.

Tyne Housing Association will help reduce health inequalities amongst people experiencing homelessness, supporting them to make positive lifestyle changes and increase access to key health messaging and services. They will build on the success of Newcastle’s existing Champions Project, working in partnership with external partners and experts by experience. They will recruit and enhance delivery working from the Joseph Cowen Health Centre (JCHC) and Progression Hub.

The Pioneering Care Partnership project’s aim is to understand the barriers that migrant communities (including refugees and asylum seekers) face when accessing health and/or other public services in Stockton-on Tees. This intelligence will enable the development of co-produced solutions that support individuals in the migrant communities to access critical health information, improve health literacy, improve integration, signpost migrants to local opportunities and enhance access to and take-up of health services.  They aim to recruit, train and support more grassroots champions with emphasis on Lived Experience.

Healthworks will work with communities and local authorities across Newcastle and Gateshead to raise awareness of children’s oral health by promoting, the importance of registering a child with a dentist and regular check-ups, how to clean your teeth and reduce the risk of tooth decay.  They will also focus on reducing the risk of head and neck cancers by training champions to cascade information on how to do regular 2-minute home oral health checks, highlighting the importance of registering with a dentist and promoting the importance of attending regular check-ups.

Grants are being funded by the North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care Board (ICB) and being administered by VONNE as part of the Healthy Communities and Social Prescribing Programme. This is a key enabling programme of the ICB ‘Healthier and Fairer’ workstream - which has a particular interest in enhancing the role of the VCSE to achieve positive population health and wellbeing outcomes.

Visit our Health Champions web page for more information about activity across the North East and North Cumbria.