About 70 people attended a conference at St Barnabas on Tuesday at which Professor Kevin Fenton was a speaker. We are partners in the Wandsworth Coproduction Network which aims to develop community- centred approaches to health and well being. Representatives of Wandsworth Council, academics ,leaders of voluntary organisations and charities, and church leaders and leaders in the Muslim Community were all present for a morning of reflection and discussion. We saw films about Somali women sharing expertise in healthy cooking, Mosques delivering family therapies and The New Testament Assembly pioneering fitness classes for men in their middle years. All these projects are community led initiatives to help tackle mental and physical health issues at an early stage. Projects good in themselves but also a practical response to stretched NHS budgets.
Professor Fenton is an inspirational figure who has years of experience combating the spread of HIV in the USA and has a profound understanding of the role of social context- particularly housing and healthy food availability- in people’s all round well-being and the powerful part that community groups can play in changing the mind-sets and practices of politicians and health professionals.
One of the unexpected highlights for me was a conversation with one of the Muslim leaders present who enjoyed the chance to be inside a church!