Well North: a radical new approach to public health

Introducing Well North

Well North is a partnership between Public Health England, The University of Manchester and Manchester Academic Heath Science Centre. We are working alongside local authorities, NHS organisations, business both big and small, community, voluntary, and faith organisations to genuinely find new ways of creating healthy communities in ten specific local places.

Our pathfinder locations encourage and support residents and professionals to work together, using local knowledge and networks to seek out people in the community who can both generate and benefit from change.  It’s not about imposing solutions from outside the community.

April 2015 saw the launch of the phase 1 pathfinders with 10 planned in total

  • Well Doncaster
  • Well Oldham
  • Well Sefton

An evolving approach

Well North was the inspiration of the late Professor Aidan Halligan, and our team has

Aidan Halligan passed away suddenly April 2015

taken his initial ideas and developed them. We have been supported in this by the experienced social entrepreneur Lord Andrew Mawson and his colleagues.  Andrew accepted the invitation to become Chairman of Well North, and works closely with Chief Executive Officer Sam Tunney as well as all our partner organisations.


Our principles

Well North is creating a movement to unleash healthy communities across the North of England. Starting in ten places, we are inspiring change by backing real people and local ideas.

We are connecting local people, health experts, public services, businesses, voluntary and community groups who’re all eager to make a difference.  Our focus is on delivering grassroots projects that have a lasting impact on people’s lives.

Targeting spending in new ways

Andrew believes that change has to be brought about in the way we approach public health:

” Traditional approaches to public health are not as effective as they need to be at reaching those in the poorest communities and public funding continues to be under significant pressure.

Often the people whom health and care professionals think should change behaviour or access services either cannot or choose not to. Eventual emergency treatment or intervention can be drastic, costly and may have a lasting impact on the life of the person, their family and the wider community.”

Many stretched public services now struggle to address wider wellbeing needs, financial problems, unemployment and other issues which all have an impact on individuals and communities. Well North is taking an innovative and integrated approach to these issues.

Key role for skills and enterprise

A major determinant of life expectancy is whether someone is in quality employment.  Therefore providing employment and enterprise opportunities is a key component of improving the lives of the poorest fastest. There is a need for investment in raising skills and aspiration.

Creativity is also key. It’s important to look at how people feel about their local community. If all they see are difficulties, it’s easy to internalise words like ‘difficult’, ‘deprived’, ‘marginalised’ and ‘impoverished’.  Rather than starting with a clinical response, putting additional demands on already stretched services, Well North begins with community and creative responses.

We encourage people to come together to do things in an entrepreneurial and innovative way, combining community assets with other resources to create something new and transformational.

Our funding

Public Health England has provided £9 million of funding for Well North, which is matched financially and in kind by our local partners.  This enables us to find genuinely fresh approaches and new ways forward, and rare freedom to innovate.

We are about:

  • Improving the health and wellbeing of everyone
  • Backing real people’s dreams and ideas
  • Working alongside people and trusting them to shape their own futures
  • Bringing energy and creativity to kick-start change
  • Tapping into existing assets, resources, talents and skills
  • Building new connections and relationships
  • Working with social entrepreneurs and businesses to create new enterprises and jobs
  • Sparking community-centred investment and regeneration
  • Working with communities to shape more effective health, care and welfare services
  • Creating a culture which, wherever possible, says ‘yes’, rather than ‘no’
  • Using language which is positive, concise and cuts out jargon
  • Boosting confidence through creative and inspiring activities involving everyone.
  • Creating culture change, enterprise and inspiration in communities which lasts long after we’ve gone.

Find out more about Well North at www.wellnorth.co.uk or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/Well-North


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