Rachel Baker Talk

Community Organisations and Health and Wellbeing

Rachel Baker, Professor of Health Economics, Director of the Yunus Centre for Social Business and Health, and Interim Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research at Glasgow Caledonian University, gave a talk about the large collaborative study for which she is lead researcher. The study is exploring community-led organisations (CLOs) in disadvantaged areas, and how they impact on health and wellbeing. The study focuses on 14 specific CLOs in different parts of Scotland, England and Northern Ireland.

Rachel shared with us the particular challenges involved in undertaking research on complex live systems, which do not of course remain conveniently stable while the researchers carry out their investigations. She described the innovative ways in which the study design gets round these difficulties, so that it will be possible to rely on the results in a meaningful way.

She went on to explain the questions the study attempts to answer, namely:

  • Do Community-led Organisations (CLOs) impact on health and wellbeing in disadvantaged areas?
  • By what mechanisms? and in what contexts?
  • Which approaches are scalable and which are specific, local solutions?
  • What are the key issues for sustainability of CLOs?

The aim of the research is to come up with answers to these questions which can assist decision making on the part of those who commission services. Rachel talked about how, most often, public health interventions tend to be focused on individual lifestyle factor to the neglect of equally influential social and community networks and socio-economic, cultural and environmental conditions.

The research plan has several different stages each involving different methodologies. These are:

  • A review of the literature
  • Stakeholder workshops
  • Participant interviews
  • Policy analysis
  • Stakeholder interviews
  • “Photovoice” to capture a visual representation of stakeholders’ experiences

In the lively discussion following Rachel’s presentation those present were keen to have answers to the questions posed in the research but she was resolute in insisting we had to wait and see. There were also questions about the politics and finance of community organisations working in partnership with statutory services.

Rachel Baker Talk