Health and Housing for Healthier Futures
Dedicated to reducing health inequalities for social housing residents, our Health and Housing Forum is a new innovative partnership led by whg (Walsall Housing Group) in partnership with the ICB (Integrated Care Board).
Social housing landlords look after some of our most vulnerable, economically disadvantaged and underserved communities, which is why working in partnership with the NHS is crucial to better understand, better reach and better serve those communities.
Our aim is to work as one team - to learn, grow and create systematic change through joining up housing, health and communities across the Black Country. The difference in our approach will be how we work together for mutual benefit, ensuring both housing and health work towards measurable improvements for the communities in which we operate, all while ensuring that the models we create remain sustainable.
Black Country Health and Social Housing Forum
The Black Country Health and Social Housing Forum was set up by whg in partnership with the Black Country ICB, following whg’s groundbreaking partnership working with health in Walsall.
In March, we invited housing providers from across the Black Country to a roundtable event to mark the establishment of the forum. The event was led by Andrew Van Doorn, OBE and CEO of HACT, and provided an opportunity for social housing providers to come together for the first time and discuss the ways they can work with the NHS to address health inequalities for residents.
To ensure social housing residents in the Black Country continue to benefit from a collaborative approach, provider joined a Health and Housing Integrated Care Development Programme in 2023. Watch the video below to find out about the programme.
Health and Housing Forum partners include:
- whg (lead)
- Wolverhampton Homes
- Bromford Homes
- Midland Heart
- Green Square Accord
- Black Country Housing
- Sandwell Council
- Dudley Council
- Stonewater Housing
- CHADD Housing
- Wolverhampton City Council
The core purpose of the Health and Housing Forum is to:
- Keep residents at the heart of what we do
- Create equitable access to services
- Use housing as an enabler for good health
- Work in partnership together
- Set a legacy for the future.
We know that people who live in social housing are much more at risk of health inequalities and have greater health and well-being needs. People who have gainful employment and live more active, healthier lives will in turn feel less isolated and more able to sustain tenancies well. By addressing the social determinants of health, social housing providers will reduce health inequalities for residents as well as impact on tenancy sustainment.
The Health and Housing Forum will build on the success of current health and housing partnership programmes which have been designed by whg and are currently delivered in Walsall . These include :
- Diabetes Matters: Four health champions, who all have lived experience of diabetes, have been recruited by whg in a new pilot. The champions will use their life experience of living with, or caring for someone with diabetes, to connect with people in the local area, encourage access to support services, including diabetes education sessions and support people to positively manage their condition. As residents who live in the areas where whg will be delivering the service, they will use their day-to-day connections to identify and engage people who are not currently taking up support services and as a result are struggling to manage diabetes. Read more about the work from whg and diabetes.
- Kindness Counts: The Kindness Counts Programme is delivered by whg and funded by the Walsall Together Partnership as part of a successful NHS Charities funding bid. The programme aims to use targeted interventions such as a co-produced activates programme, gaming platforms, befriending services and linking in with other community wellbeing programmes to reduce the impact of loneliness and isolation of people and communities. Read more about the whg work from Walsall Together about the Kindness Counts Programme.
- Kindness Champions: As part of the whg Kindness Counts programme, four Kindness Champions have been recruited to work alongside and support customers who are feeling lonely or isolated . The Kindness Champions, who are all whg customers, are considered ‘experts’ due to their life experience and ability to engage with people who can be forgotten or hidden within communities. They offer a programme of activities with the aim of increasing confidence and self-esteem and provide opportunities for social contact. This includes a befriending service, bringing young people together through sports and gaming , dentifying and supporting customers who are carers and may struggle to think about their own needs. Read more from whg about the Kindness Champions work.
- Social Prescribing: Recognising that many illnesses are not necessarily fixed by medication or visit to the GP and that sometimes people just need the contact of others, whg launched its social prescribing service in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. The ‘H Factor’ programme (which stands for Health, Hope and Happiness) provides customers with the support of a social prescriber who works alongside them to improve their health and wellbeing, rather than a prescribe medication. This includes helping customers to create a plan which sets out what they want to achieve helping them to develop confidence and skills make new friendships in their local community, kickstart old hobbies that haven’t been enjoyed in a while and increasing access to new activities and experiences. Read more Read more from whg about the 'H Factor' programme.
We will be sharing examples from other providers in the future.
The Black Country Health and Housing Forum will continue to work in partnership to ensure social housing residents benefit from a collaborative approach. As part of this work, partners joined a Health and Housing Integrated Care Development Programme in 2023.
The Health and Housing Integrated Care Development Programme is an intensive learning programme for social housing providers in the Black Country, designed to:
o Strengthen their understanding of how to engage with the Black County Integrated Care System
o Build awareness of the competencies needed to deliver within a healthcare setting
o Identify partnering and collaboration opportunities with each other and with health
o Describe and refine their offer to NHS providers and commissioners
o Build their credibility as potential partners with the health sector.
The programme was delivered over four separate days between April and June 2023 with attendance from professionals working in social housing organisations in senior business development and operational roles, as well as those working in community investment, supported housing, general housing management, strategy, and partnerships.
It provided housing professionals with a firm grounding on what is happening in the current health and social care landscape, with participants receiving invites to join the Black Country Health and Housing Forum.
For more information about the Black Country Health and Housing Forum, or to sign up for the ICS and Housing Development Programme, please email Sureya Gulzar, our Health and Housing Partnership Manager at Sureya.