The life expectancy of people living in St Luke’s ward is more than six years lower than their neighbouring wards. But the St Luke’s Healthy Living CIC is developing and running services to tackle health inequalities in a different way, providing a range of holistic health services around the ward on a campus basis.
Across the area in three different venues the CIC will offer “The Business Surgery”, an advice service and practical resource centre for people wishing to start their own businesses, and clinical rooms close to an existing oversubscribed Health Centre, to enable much needed services such as chiropody, counselling (to be delivered in partnership with the GP providers) and facilities for education and training offering pathways into work for all. It also manages community chef cookery courses, a community allotment and is beginning a series of “Health Walks”.
Setbacks and withdrawal of PCT funding have necessitated a review of the original plans for a “one-stop” holistic building housing all the above amenities and more. However, partnerships remain strong and the Department of Health continues to support the CIC’s determination to tackle health inequalities by promoting and engaging residents with services and activities that will positively affect their physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.
The CIC structure has been pivotal to the project’s success so far as it has provided the freedom to be innovative while securing the foundation of a sustainable business set up for the community. The CIC was established in April 2007 as part of a Department of Health pilot – the Social Enterprise Investment Fund Pathfinder project. Since then, it has worked closely with the local primary care trust, helping to relocate the ward’s surgery from a “run-down shop” to its present modern setting.
“We’re a CIC because we have community interest at heart,” says Frank Gulley, chair of the CIC and head teacher of the school, which also has a police station in its grounds. The service users may not know what it means, he adds, but the structure will help when it comes to winning contracts.
“It’s a model for social enterprises and the asset lock gives us extra credibility,” he says. “If anything goes wrong, we have a clear way to protect our assets in the long term.” The practicality of setting up as a CIC, he explains, was also a factor as it was so straightforward and, while the regulations are robust, they are not restricting.
“Social prescription is key,” says Gulley. “People don’t just want drugs to make them feel better, they want opportunity.”
||St Luke’s Healthy Living
||CIC limited by guarantee
|Community interest statement
||To contribute to regeneration locally, provide community-led services to address health inequalities and achieve long term, positive outcomes.