Published 29 April 2021

Impact on Urban Health (part of Guys’ and St Thomas’ Foundation) published their new report ‘Easing pressures: How work, money and homes can make our cities healthier and fairer’ on the 16th of April.

The report has been a collective effort; building on academic research and case studies from organisations working in South London and local voices sharing their lived experiences. Impact on Urban Health say they know cities are deeply inequitable places, and that many inequalities had worsened in the last ten years, but there was no way anyone could have predicted how this would accelerate in 2020. Their report has made the below key findings:

  1. The unequal way that people develop multiple long-term health conditions is a mirror for broader health inequity in our cities. Differences by income, ethnicity, first language, country of birth and even neighbourhood show that the origins of multiple long-term conditions are often social and economic. 

  2. There is a reciprocal relationship between financial health and multiple long-term conditions. Despite this, systems and support services are fragmented and too often treat them as separate issues, worsening the negative impact each has on the other. 

  3. Health and work are strongly linked. Employers have enormous influence on health, especially in essential industries with large numbers of staff living on low incomes, for example, in health and social care, supermarkets, waste collection and early years education. Job design, especially for low-income roles, routes out of precarious employment, and ownership of decision-making are crucial components to averting the ill health effects of bad work. 

  4. Precarious tenancies and poor living conditions pair with ill health, especially mental ill health. We must focus on the private rented sector, making it more secure, affordable and accessible in cities, for maximum impact on health inequity.  

  5. Neighbourhoods need civic infrastructure to foster good health for all. Despite being the places where health is made, the role of neighbourhoods is under-recognised and under-funded today. 

    You can download the full report here.

Community Southwark has been commissioned by Impact on Urban Health to run a pilot programme of the Catalyst Grant model in Southwark, that is working to address these health inequalities.

This is the first time the Catalyst Grant Programme has been set up in this borough. The programme is based on issuing small well-being grants of up to £500 to individuals on low income. Funds can be used flexibly for what people feel will make a meaningful difference to their lives and overall mental and/or physical well-being. It may also be used to help fulfil personal goals, where a financial barrier currently exists. We are also looking to see if this has an impact on the current Social Determinants of Health (SDH) and helps people overcome them. This grant model was originally set up by Cripplegate Foundation, who have been running their programme successfully in Islington since 2009.

Community Southwark started this project back in November 2020. So far, awards have been granted in blocks of £5000 to 5 partner organisations who will distribute funds to people they are already working with, reaching between 10-20 individuals each (50-100 in total). It was important to us to ensure we could reach the widest pool of beneficiaries possible with our selected partners, with varying backgrounds and circumstances. Collaborating with organisations that focus on people from ethnic minorities was also important, as they are more likely to be impacted by SDH. This is reflected by the fact that three of our partner organisations’ primary service users belong to ethnic minorities.

We have also been looking at the optimal way to evaluate both the pilot programme itself, and the benefits of the grant for its beneficiaries. This has been done through well-being monitoring research, collaboration with the partners and support from our Evaluation & Impact officer. More information about this project can be found here.

If you have any questions about the Catalyst Grant pilot programme, please contact Madeleine Marcateus (Community Grants Officer) at [email protected], or call 020 7358 7704.