Significant EU investment in community-based health and well-being hubs welcomed


Significant EU investment in community-based health and well-being hubs welcomedA four year, €5.01 million EU INTERREG VA funded cross-border project has been launched in Co. Antrim. The CAWT Community Health Sync (CoH-Sync) Project secured the EU funding for the development of a network of Locality Health and Well-being Hubs in the border region of the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and SW Scotland. These community-based and locally run Hubs will support individuals and groups to become more active in improving their own health and wellbeing by making better use of existing resources and facilities in their local areas.
The EU funding allocation has been secured by the Co-operation and Working Together (CAWT) Health and Social Care Partnership. This Partnership comprises the HSE, the Southern Health and Social Care Trust, the Western Health and Social Care Trust, the Public Health Agency and the Health and Social Care Board. NHS Dumfries and Galloway is also a CoH-Sync project partner.
The CoH-Sync Project will encourage people living in disadvantaged areas and in more rural outlying areas to sign up to a health and well-being plan and receive support from a health facilitator. The CoH-Sync project will focus on helping people to improve their health in the risk factor areas of physical activity, nutrition, smoking, alcohol consumption and mental health resilience. Such risk factors are known to be associated with the development of long term conditions or chronic illnesses such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and arthritis for example.
As part of the project there will be two Locality Health and Well-being Hubs established in the Western Health and Social Care Trust area. Bogside and Brandywell Health Forum successfully secured the tender to establish a Locality Health and Well-being Hub in the Derry City / Strabane Council area and Arc Healthy Living Centre won the tender to deliver a Locality Health and Well-being Hub in the Enniskillen/West Fermanagh area.
Commenting on the project and additional funding secured, Project Chair, Dr Maura O’Neill from the Western Health and Social Care Trust said: “On behalf of the CoH-Sync Project Board, I am delighted that the health services has been able to secure additional European Union funding to deliver these Locality Health and Well-being Hubs. Our aim is to ensure that, through a partnership approach, people will be provided with the information, support and skills within their own communities to enable them to achieve a healthier lifestyle.”
Welcoming the project Gina McIntyre, CEO of the Special EU Programmes Body said: “This project will empower citizens, on both sides of the border, to manage their own health and social care needs. In doing so it will deliver upon some of the key outputs of the EU’s INTERREG VA Programme which is investing millions of euros in cross-border health projects that will positively transform the lives of tens of thousands of citizens and their families. I am delighted to see that the project includes early intervention health plans to help people take charge of their own physical well-being on a long-term basis.”
Chief Medical Officer for Northern Ireland, Dr Michael McBride commented: “This EU funded health and well-being initiative is timely as within all the three regions where the project is being implemented, there is a strong focus on helping people to stay well for longer. This project will also contribute to reducing health inequalities and will provide valuable knowledge about what works in supporting people to improve and protect their own health.”
Representing the successful bidders to the public procurement exercise, Seamus Ward, General Manager of Bogside and Brandywell Health Forum in Derry outlined how the community and voluntary sector are well positioned to access those people who are more marginalised and deprived and thus harder to reach. He highlighted that the EU funding enables the successful providers to work across borders towards health improvement and make accessing interventions more convenient for people who most need them, regardless of the jurisdiction in which they live.
Match-funding for the project has been provided by both Departments of Health in Ireland and Northern Ireland with support from the Scottish Government.