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Connecting to create health

Antony Morgan, Dean of Glasgow Caledonian University London and Professor of Public Health, joined Healthy Cities Forum on 9th October with architects BDP and Chelsea and Westminster NHS Foundation Trust. Watch a video clip from Antony's presentation above.

Antony commented: ' I very much want to drop the term ’Salutogenesis’ into the conversation, and plant the idea in the discussion. It is not a new term but it has re-emerged in Europe recently.

'Today we have heard lots about places, lots about technology, but very little about people and how they connect. When I was on secondment to the World Health Organisation, I worked on concepts of social capital which came from the USA on why communities are becoming disconnected, and on the problems that go with this. Related to this is the idea of Salutogenesis which is about how we create health. There is huge concern in the NHS currently and in Government currently on how we “fix” health, and how we deal with “problem” behaviours. What would life look if we created a community which gives people the best chance of great health? An American sociologist called Aaron Antonovsky created the term when he was thinking about the projects that would create health. The philosophy is about keeping people towards the health end of the spectrum, rather than letting them flow towards the disease end.

'This thinking is related to that of John McKnight, another sociology professor (who wrote the “Careless Society” in the 1960s, and who was part of the John F. Kennedy administration on social reform), who believed that communities had an innate ability to “heal themselves” – if they are given the scope to do so. Asset based community development is about connecting people, with the aim of developing health and well-being. There is evidence to show that the more you involve communities in the health development process, and ask them about what they want in the health, the more they will achieve.

'Research from Jennie Popay, Professor at the University of Lancaster, has shown that the more you delegate power to communities and involve people the more likely they are to be connected and go on to attain health and well-being. Antony adds: ‘Social capital coming back now – so how do we start devolving power rather than making governments and local authorities responsible for getting it right. We need to find ways of empowering communities to create health in the way it makes sense to them.’

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