Motivated, confident citizens - RSA

Networked citizens power movements in health


  • Health & wellbeing

To reach their full potential movements must be wide reaching and inclusive. By providing a platform for people to share their stories and ideas we are hoping to build connected networks that lead to increased capacity amongst peers. Through sharing stories we believe we are contributing to a reciprocal model of engagement that values practice and experience.

It’s clear the health as a social movement agenda is pushing for vast behavioural change on an individual and organisational levels. Many of those we have spoken throughout our research have been working towards these changes for a long time. We are now seeing the momentum increase with a rising tide of opinion once again gravitating towards these ground up approaches. As Halima Khan, Executive Director, Nesta HealthLab, pointed out at our event, it is important to recognise that social movements in health are "absolutely not something that is new." 

Health as a Social Movement: Launch Event from The RSA on Vimeo.

Penny Newman, Medical Director at the Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust, outlines below the progress that has been made with her ‘Better Conversation’ platform:

“For the last 6 years we have been developing training and resources to enable clinicians and peers have more enabling conversations with patients, to support self-care and behaviour change. We have now trained over 3000 clinicians and peers across the country, and over 100 people have co-created new resources which set out the case for change and what to do.”

Other contributors have also shared their thinking and experiences with us, Andy Bradley provided examples of how he has been working with others towards this deep behavioural change at a grassroots level, where the aim has been:

“[to build a] start where you live philosophy; in ourselves, households, streets, neighbourhood, city and county.”

These responses are representative of the feedback we have received so far. They illustrate the extensive resources and tools to empower citizens and clinicians that are being produced, and highlight that communities are looking to spark movements towards a social model of healthcare.

A key element to the process of system wide behavioural change is the impetus to do so from the ground up. This requires an acceptance of increasing responsibility at the personal level and an increased level of trust from individuals and organisations.

In our submissions we've heard that in order to facilitate motivated, confident citizens we need strong leadership at local, regional and national levels. This is required if we are to build distributed networks with the experience and drive to support mobilisation of people to  around the country to support themselves in the way they believe is right for them.

The creation of networks that at their core are geared towards enabling these processes to happen is vital to achieving both the spread and scale of movements towards a social model of health. Andy Bradley shared with us his belief that:

“deep change in the patterns within and between us requires a more disciplined kind of contemplation and a fierce not at all easy kind of commitment.”

Networks of individuals and organisations sharing their stories and opening themselves to assist others builds this fierce commitment. NHS England's Kathryn Perera argues these emotions can be channelled through three guiding principles in order to breath life into the belief that both micro and macro scale change in health can be achieved. 

As Mark Swift, CEO of Wellbeing Enterprises, so aptly put it in his presentation:

"[through] the power of solidarity, productive partnerships, and being greater than the sum of our individual components, we genuinely believe we are stronger together.”

Please keeping share your stories of health and social movements with us so we can further build our understanding.

Follow updates on the Health as a Social Movement project page.

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