COVID-19 presented our society with a public health challenge not seen in most of our lifetimes. The public and charitable sectors have had to work in new ways, despite already being focused on longstanding health inequalities that make life harder for people in disadvantaged communities. At our webinar in September, Public Health Oxfordshire explained their approach to tackling these health inequalities.
David Munday, consultant and Deputy Director at Public Health Oxfordshire, presented at the OCF webinar on the 21st September on what was meant by health inequalities – the ‘unfair and avoidable differences’ in access to, experience of, and outcome from using local health services. He looked at the impact of covid and how this has deepened existing inequalities. These health inequalities were highlighted in the Public Health Oxfordshire annual report. The Joint Strategic Needs Assessment provides the insight and evidence-base for the accompanying Health and Wellbeing Strategy and a new version is being published on 6th October.
At the webinar, David went on to explain their tiered approach to their work and how this decides the time and focus of Public Health in tackling health inequalities. Tier 3 looks at the root causes of health issues and this is why they work with the voluntary and community sector. Public Health Oxfordshire fund grants through OCF to local charitable organisations that are working in the communities they want to support. Two local charities talked about why they applied for funding, how they used their grants, and the impact in their communities.
Emmaus Oxford supports people who are experiencing homelessness or are vulnerably housed. Their project, for Healthy Hearts, was about getting more physically active and help to quit smoking. 85% of those experiencing homelessness smoke, against 18% for the general population. See Groundswell Room to Breathe for more details on the respiratory health of those experiencing homelessness. Public Health can provide further support in quitting smoking or vaping, email email@example.com.
Oxford City Farm is based in the Florence Park area and aims to welcome their community to share nature and understand where food comes from. The majority of their grant, around mental wellbeing, was spent to increase their capacity for supporting groups of volunteers into the farm. They also provided formal Mental Health First Aid training to their staff to give them confidence in the way they were working. Read more on their grant funding in the Oxford City Farm case study. During this time, they also became a more formal part of the OX4 Food Crew tackling food insecurity in the area.