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Major UK study to assess the impact of community organisations on public health

Published: 22 February 2022

The positive impact community organisations have on health and wellbeing is to be examined for the first time as part of a major new study funded by the NIHR.

Led by Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU), the £1.5million project, entitled Common Health Assets, is the first in-depth study of the links between community, health, and wellbeing across the UK.

Researchers from GCU, Queen’s University Belfast, Bournemouth University and the University of East London, will gather evidence on how community organisations improve people’s lives and help drive positive change.

The three-year study will evaluate the health and wellbeing benefits provided by a wide range of community-led organisations and activities, such as walking groups, cookery lessons, language classes, community gardens and cafes.

Community-led organisations in and around Glasgow, Bournemouth, Belfast, and East London, will take part in the project.

Professor Rachel Baker, the project lead and Director of the Yunus Centre for Social Business and Health at GCU, said: “The importance of community spirit, mutual aid and support was brought home to us all during the pandemic.

“This research will help focus attention on the importance of community to public health generally; especially important as we rebuild, and imagine, what may be required to cope with future crises.

“It is really significant that the NIHR - the major funder of medical and public health research in the UK - has recognised how important communities are in health improvement.”

Professor Sam Porter, of Bournemouth University, said: “By studying the ways that different community-led groups operate, we will be able to understand the ways that these things work, better than we do now, and apply the learning to other places.”

The study was funded by the Public Health Research Programme. 

Find out more about the study on the Funding & Awards website.

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