Creating a community where everyone can be well

A report has been launched highlighting the strength of the community through assets found across Tendring and Colchester.

The ‘Be Well’ report is the sixth in a series of reports published as companions to the North East Essex Community Assets Map.  This latest report, commissioned by the North East Essex Health and Wellbeing Alliance, aims to highlight the strength of the community through the numerous assets found across six neighbourhoods in Tendring and Colchester.

‘Be Well’ has been put together by Healthwatch Essex, Community360 (C360) and Community Voluntary Services Tendring (CVST), who have worked closely with residents, local groups and representatives from the North East Essex Health and Wellbeing Alliance.  The aim was to identify several actions that could be taken to build on the strengths already present in our communities.

The report provides case studies and spotlights examples of good practice.  It has a particular focus on quality of housing standards; the impact of physical activity on health and wellbeing; and access to sustainable, affordable and healthy food. Collectively, with the invaluable ‘Citizen’s Voice’ gained from one-to-one discussions and interviews with people living in Old Heath and The Hythe in Colchester; Pier Ward in Tendring, there are a number of enablers and barriers identified that affect accessibility to opportunities.

Being Well in North East Essex is supported by a breadth of voluntary and community organisations committed to enabling people to maintain their quality of life to engage in purposeful activity and connect into local networks.  Examples drawn together in the report offer an opportunity to reflect on what is working well, and what could be improved upon to reach those facing challenges to accessing available programmes.  It highlights the varied nature of provision and the importance of this work to people in specific communities, where a thriving community spirit needs to be underpinned with a partnership approach.

A key finding from the report has highlighted that a thriving community spirit has emerged as a huge positive benefit to Being Well but still needs to be underpinned with a partnership approach.

One project participant commented:

“I would like to see more affordable community transport available so I can attend more Sport for Confidence activities.  I’m not eligible  for a free bus pass yet so it costs me a total of £11.50 to attend one exercise class.  I can’t afford to attend more than two classes a month.”

One volunteer commented:

“The impact of unaffordable or lack of suitable accommodation has had cases of ill health-substance misuse-criminal activities-mental health, rise to a level that organisations are stretched to the limits.”

Sharon Alexander, CVST’s Chief Officer, said: “We know that quality of housing, access to healthy food and physical activity all have an impact on our health, in both our wellbeing and our physical health. We are pleased to have been involved with, provided or supported many projects working to offer ways to help residents ‘Be Well’ in Tendring.

“CVST in particular is passionate about helping the community have opportunities to be active in a way that suits their needs and offer a range of groups and support to help with this. We’ve seen amazing response to projects encouraging residents to move more, enjoy activities and take up new hobbies, which in turn has really improved the lives of those residents.

“Improving wellbeing is at the core of so much of what we do, and we are pleased to have been a part of the Be Well report to look closely at the facilities and opportunities on offer to people in this area, as well as see where improvements could be made.”

Samantha Glover, CEO of Healthwatch Essex, said: “This is such an important phase of this work, supporting people to live the best life they can in a sustainable, healthy and happy way. We hope that the findings of this report help organisations to see what is currently available in their community, how people interact with those assets and what might be needed in the future to ensure that Colchester and Tendring can continue to encourage the development a community where everyone can be well.”

Tracy Rudling, CEO at Community360 said: “We were delighted to be part of the ‘Be Well Report’ and to reflect on what our communities are saying is important to them to ‘be well.’ Through our wellbeing projects we know how important it is for residents to have access to the right activities which will suit their needs. People often need a bit of support to have the confidence to get involved, whether joining a walking group to get active and making new friends, taking part in a volunteer session or learning something new. I am proud that our community development team are always looking at ways to strengthen and improve our wellbeing offering to help support our residents’ lives.”

She added: “The report has highlighted the need for more community transport, which we know is important as it could be a potential barrier to keeping well. We are aware there is a relationship between transport disadvantage and poverty and the inaccessibility to health and wellbeing services. Our Community360 transport scheme will continue to address inaccessibility to services, activities and facilities in Colchester and Maldon and support individuals who need transportation support.”

Councillor Gina Placey, Tendring District Council Cabinet Member for Partnerships, said: “I welcome this report which will help all of us, working together in an Alliance way, to improve the lives of local residents. This can support our work and help to ensure our services are focused in the right way to best help people in our district.”

Read the full report here