Collarborage Health and Wellbeing

Making the connection with health and wellbeing

The underlying rationale for community-led approaches to housing and neighbourhoods is that they harness the shared commitment of local residents to come together to work collaboratively to co-create an identifiable and sustainable place that can have a positive impact on where they want live and how they want to lead their lives, creating a strong sense of belonging through reciprocity that offers mutual support and that can also help address the social connectedness and wider health and wellbeing of people in those communities. This impact can be seen in four main ways:

The positive effects on self-esteem and mental wellbeing that arise from people having greater influence over their environment, including the design and management of their homes and built environment, and the ability to have a say to resolve local problems.

  • Port Loop, Birmingham – Island Rules (opens new window)
    Winner of the 2021 Housing Design Awards' Healthy Homes category, Port Loop is a joint venture between Urban Splash and Places for People to create a large scale regeneration project close to Birmingham city centre. A place for all generations it is a brand new canal-side neighbourhood that has 10 rules that underpin their manifesto for a mixed-tenure, healthy community living, including for an ageing population
  • No Place Left Behind (opens new window)
    This report from the Create Streets Foundation makes detailed recommendations by The Commission into Prosperity and Community Placemaking for government and other players  to:
    • improve the physical, social and environmental fabric of places that may not be able to generate large amounts of financial value from development;
    • improve the prosperity and wellbeing of residents; and
    • influence broader debates around urban regeneration, asset transfer, community-led housing, and community empowerment, by making proposals to influence government, local government, landowners, investors and third sector bodies.
    Seen through the lens of the 'levelling up' agenda, the report draws together a number of case studies, lists evidence and provides policy analysis that accord with the principles of CollaborAGE.

Being able to contribute their time, skills and goodwill to improve things for others is an important factor in each person’s health and wellbeing. There has been a growth in local initiatives that make the most of the energy, skills and generosity which is already abundant in communities and neighbourhoods, as evidenced during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Understanding the many strengths and assets of communities, and of individuals within them, is an important part of any place-based approach to health and wellbeing. This is an approach that targets an entire community and aims to take a holistic approach (rather than being driven by specific budgets, or service-level priorities) to addressing the drivers of inequalities in housing choices and health and wellbeing, at a neighbourhood level. 

The committed and agile way communities have responded to the coronavirus crisis points the way to a new future that’s built around community power. But to be truly transformative, policymakers need to catch up with the innovation that’s happening locally – and, with Covid-19 in mind, help embed it as the “new normal” as we emerge from the crisis. In so many localities including those of high deprivation, mutual aid and support groups have sprung up and risen to the challenge of the pandemic. For example:

  • Collaborative Housing and Innovation in Care (opens new window)
    This research project report explores the ways in which collaborative housing might help meet the changing care needs of older people to support and maintain their health and wellbeing. Funded by the National Institute of Health Research School for Social Care Research, the ‘Collaborative Housing and Innovation in Care’ (CHIC) report brings to a close an exciting 30month project involving research partners the University of Bristol, LSE and the Housing LIN
  • Engaged Lives (opens new window)
    ExtraCare Charitable Trust’s Engaged Lives project seeks to build greater community, mutual support and connection amongst the UK’s older population. The project aims to build the confidence and capacity of our residents (and the wider community) to lead “Engaged Lives” – lives of immersive and purposeful activity, within a community that people feel they belong to.  As part of the project, Engaged Lives have produced a 2 part do-it-yourself guide, ‘Steps to Connection’ (for purchase from ECCT), which outlines ways to construct a motivating “Vision of Connection” and introduces 10 steps individuals can take to boost connection with others.
  • Engaged Lives: End of Project Report 2022 (opens new window)
    Since July 2019, the Engaged Lives project has been working to build greater community and connection amongst the UK’s older population. Supported by the National Lottery Community Fund, the project has built the confidence and capacity of our residents (and the wider community) to lead “Engaged Lives” – lives of immersive and purposeful activity, within a community that people feel they belong to.
  • Levenshulme Inspire 
    During lockdown, Inspire quickly took responsibility for food delivery for older people; a food bag scheme; and telephone and online support.

“The amount of fantastic community collaboration that has gone on around this, I don’t think we’re going to lose. It will have a warm glow for a long time.”

Ed Cox, Chair of Levenshulme Inspire

A community-led approach enables organisations and individuals to focus on collaborative approaches to promoting health and wellbeing. This approach moves beyond traditional services and treatment for illness delivered by health professionals, to make use of resources such as peer support, social prescribing and shared care.

Creating sustainable, connected and resilient communities who look out for one another can have a significant positive impact on:

  • Forging a community – fostering greater community connectedness and creating a sense of belonging, enhanced by the design of homes and the neighbourhood and use of technology and communication aids
  • Health and adult social care – local people contribute to improvements in planned local health improvement and social care outcomes achieved by service providers working with communities
  • The wellbeing of all – people support one another to improve health and wellbeing, reduce loneliness and social isolation, and create a positive sense of shared purpose
  • Self-care – people are able to better manage their own health and wellbeing

Housing, health, care and wellbeing are integral to one another, and many housing providers and neighbourhood organisations are actively engaged with promoting health and wellbeing as a core part of their social purpose.  Social prescribing is an example of this more holistic thinking about health and wellbeing, and the NHS Long Term Plan sets out an objective to increase the number of people being supported at home through social prescribing.  With the evolving Primary Care Networks, local health services are also enabled to direct patients towards community activities (anything from volunteering, to community gardening, to peer support groups, exercise classes and much more) to improve their own health outcomes.

And, from a housing perspectives, social prescribing has often been implicit in housing management practice offering support to older and vulnerable residents in mainstream and specialist/supported housing. There are also examples where local GP and local community health services have teamed up with housing staff more explicitly to offer a more holistic service and/or signpost to activities – see some of the Case Studies below. 

The Housing LIN also teamed up with the National Academy for Social Prescribing and HACT to capture and share more learning and practice from the workshops held in 2022. We produced a very useful joint report from these on housing and social prescribing, Innovations in Social Prescribing: the role of housing, that can be found here.

Case studies

Browse the Housing LIN for more resources on collaborative approaches to health, care and wellbeing.