Doncaster’s Director of Public Health explains why Doncaster and why now

Dr. Rupert Suckling says Well North is a practical , roll your sleeves up approach to support communities to take back control of their health and wellbeing.

Too many times public health approaches have been built around an over analysis of problems and an over reliance on short term funding.

Well North is different.

Understanding communities is still important but the focus is not only on strengths and assets (not deficits) but also on real people, not numbers in a spread sheet or lines on graph. This is an understanding that can only be reached jointly with local people and by people like me spending time in and with the local community.

Well North takes a holistic view of health too. Again health can be reduced to better clinical care and addressing unhealthy behaviours. And although these are important, only address about half the contributors to health. The importance of the social, environmental and economic realms have been undervalued. Supporting people in communities to take control of their social, environmental and economic futures is a key difference of Well North. This starts to change the role of statutory services as enablers not merely providers.

It is this holistic view of health and the emphasis on practical action ‘learn by doing’ that drew me to Well North.

Dr. Rupert Suckling, Director of Public Health, Doncaster MBC

My hope for Well North is that in Denaby Main it acts as a ‘lightening rod’ around which local people and statutory services can rally whether it is the reopening of the community library, the establishment of the peer support, the change in use of the children’s centre or returning allotments to use. Acting as a catalyst for action, encouraging people to reconnect with what keeps them healthy whether that’s volunteering, getting into work or unleashing their creative talents.

We are learning all the time and working in this way takes time, but there are already signs of growth. Local people are stepping forward, organising, being creative and creating momentum. The challenge for people like me is to help where need, but also to back off when not needed and knowing the difference between the two.



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