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Improving lives for communities across Scotland by creating stronger links between health and housing is firmly in the sights of a new national project. The Association of Chief Officers of Scottish Voluntary Organisations (ACOSVO) and the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA) are bringing a wide-range of partners together to examine some of the major challenges being experienced by people across the country. Phili Wetton, Member Services Manager and project lead at ACOSVO has more…

“Colleagues in health and housing have many shared aims and, with a major period of public health reform underway, it’s clear the time is right to take a fresh approach to improve the way that partners deliver services for communities across the country.

ACOSVO and SFHA have just launched a six-month pilot, delivered through ACOSVO’s Leadership Exchange programme to enable senior leaders from Health and Housing to effectively reflect on this positive impact and discuss ways of working to benefit even more of our communities in the years to come.

The project will draw on the combined expertise of 16 leaders from the NHS, Local Government, and Housing Associations, with eight representatives from health and eight from housing.

We know from experience that housing associations have a huge role to play in improving health and wellbeing across Scotland. Considerable work has already been carried out by health and housing across some regions where we see housing, public health, and health and social care colleagues delivering together fantastic outcomes for individuals and communities.

However, we recognise that many people don’t live in warm homes, with people on low incomes being disproportionately affected. This programme will provide a unique opportunity for some fresh thinking and the exploration of even more effective collaborations between the health and housing sectors.

While previous exchange programmes have been between individual leaders, we think this pilot group model has the potential to be replicated by like-minded organisations looking to develop collaborative working, while also improving service delivery and outcomes for the people of Scotland.

As we’ve already mentioned, the programme comes at a time of major public health reform, with the Scottish Government and the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) having agreed six national public health priorities in June 2018. Public Health Reform is encouraging organisations, including health and housing, to use a whole system approach to deliver the priorities. Essentially this means fully understanding local issues, working collaboratively, and continuously reviewing plans to allow them to evolve over time, to meet changing local needs.

Partners working on the ground know that securing success won’t be easy and to address health challenges and drive down inequalities we need to change the way we work together. To do this we’re looking to build on the experience of existing networks to strengthen collaboration, while placing the experience of communities at the heart of everything we do.

By using the shared public health priorities as a starting point all those taking part in the new leadership exchange programme will be encouraged to lay the foundations for positive change and a Scotland where everybody thrives.”

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