Friday, 14 August 2015

Building Community Capacity Health Visiting project

With a renewed commitment to fulfilling the 'community level' aspect of the role, Rebekah Besford and Amy Prytherch, two student health visitors, explain their part in a pilot project to embrace 'Building Community Capacity' within our health visiting service. 

We are two student health visitors coming to the end of our training and have been chosen to play an integral role in Building Community Capacity within two local projects in South Leeds.

Health visitors are trained to deliver the Healthy Child Programme. This includes an expectation that health visitors are aware of and actively involved in community development work. This has been a recent challenge for the health visiting profession across the country. With the completion of the Health Visitor Implementation Plan in 2015 and the subsequent increase in numbers of health visitors, there is renewed commitment to fulfilling the ‘Community Level’ aspect of the health visiting role. Leeds Community Healthcare Trust is undertaking a pilot project to embrace ‘Building Community Capacity’ within its health visiting service.

Skinner (2006) defines community capacity building as ‘Activities, resources and support that strengthen the skills, abilities and confidence of people and community groups to take effective action and leading roles in the development of communities.’

Health visitors are seen as bridging and guiding the complex networks of people required to support children, families and communities to achieve the best possible health outcomes.

Working in partnership with ‘Health for All’ based in South Leeds we attend the projects on a weekly basis.  The two projects we are involved with are:
  • Happy Chinese Families Group- with the aim of providing an opportunity for local Chinese people to meet and socialise as well and healthy eating and cooking.  This group meets every Monday 9 – 2.30pm at Beeston Village Community Centre.
  • Global Families Breakfast Club- with the aim of providing a social meeting space and sharing breakfast cooked and prepared by volunteers form different countries. This group meets every Wednesday 9 - 12 at Beeston Village Community Centre.  
Our role is to play a part in establishing and strengthening the groups. This involves being a part of the volunteer workforce to contribute our knowledge, skills and enthusiasm to help achieve needs led sustainable community development.  This will be done in many different ways including: support with funding applications, contributing to enhancing conversational English, highlighting healthier food options and conversations around responsive parenting.

For the health visiting service the benefits of the pilot are to gain experience in seeing community development/building community capacity in practice and take our learning, reflections and insights back to the service.

We will endeavour to do this through LCH Health visiting facebook page and twitter accounts; feeding back at PIC meetings and writing a final reflective blog on our experience.

You can find out more information on our Early Start Service on our website.

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