A special Knowledge Exchange Forum (KEF) was held on 18 November to celebrate the halfway mark of the CommonHealth research programme. It offered the chance to hear the findings of some projects and the catch up on the progress of others.
The day was introduced by Professor Cam Donaldson, CommonHealth Principal Investigator, followed by a presentation of related research by Michael Roy and Bobby Macaulay. Bobby talked us through his findings from Project 2, his contemporary analysis of social enterprise as a public health intervention.
Two break-out sessions split the remaining projects, with one presenting case studies exploring in detail the links between the work of social and community enterprise and health/wellbeing (Projects 3, 4 and 5), while the other discussed testing ways of measuring the impact of social or community enterprise on health and well-being (Project 6 and 7).
After lunch, the day was reflected upon in three provocations which left us with more food for thought. Dr Oliver Escobar, Co-Director of What Works Scotland, University of Edinburgh, asked us to consider not only social good, but also democratic goods, such as empowerment and its impact on confidence & agency, and the benefits of civic participation.
Professor Carol Tannahill, Director of Glasgow Centre for Population Health and Chief Social Policy Adviser for the Scottish Government, explained that the Scottish policy context is favourable and that the Scottish Government is committed to reducing inequality and increasing inclusion. Professor Tannahill suggested the future success of public health, and indeed the public and third sector more widely, might be increased by pooling resources and coming together as funding becomes strained across all sectors. For those of us working on CommonHealth projects, what was particularly reassuring was Professor Tannahill’s comment that we are providing valuable evidence which will be welcomed by policymakers, and her encouragement that we should keep working on generating a cohesive body of evidence to help discussions currently ongoing within government.
Leona McDermid, Executive Director of Aberdeen Foyer, summed up the experiences of many social enterprises, noting that not only are those working to support and sustain the organisation exhausted, they also have no time to reflect at length on their impact and outcome. She welcomed her organisation’s participation in the CommonHealth programme as an opportunity to tell the stories they are producing through their work.
The CommonHealth research programme team will continue to find ways to tell the stories of all we work with, and thanks to the input of participants of this (and previous) KEFs, we feel reassured that people want to listen.
Fiona Henderson Clementine Hill OConnor
Thanks to @dialectographer aka Mitch Miller for the fantastic visuals he produced on the day that we have used in this post