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Health and well-being is very much on the agenda in Bristol right now with several RSA activities happening in the city. 

I recently joined a mixture of Fellows, health professionals and interested parties who had come together to debate the priorities and challenges for the health of the city of Bristol.  The session was the first in a series of discussion events titled RSA Bristol - Making our Futures, organised by the RSA Bristol Network and aimed to create a neutral platform for those across the sector to learn from each other.  

 A varied series of speakers were given 5 minutes each to lay out their specific challenges and comments on the health of the city.  We were taken through a full spectrum of the history of healthcare in the city by Janet Maxwell, Director of Public Health in Bristol, which helped in to give an understanding of the background picture.   I was surprised to learn that over 100 languages were spoken by people living in Bristol.  The social enterprise where Ejaz Ahmad works, Health Links, works to improve access to healthcare for adults and children whose first language is not English, but he highlighted that more needed to be done. Marvin Rees, Programme Manager at NHS Bristol emphasised that good mental health and well-being was core to the cities progress. 

Peter Mathieson commented “never waste a good crisis” and linked the current economic crisis to giving us the opportunity to progress issues and think differently

 

The room had the general feeling that this was the right time to reignite discussion around health.  Peter Mathieson commented “never waste a good crisis” and linked the current economic crisis to giving us the opportunity to progress issues and think differently.  He also highlighted a Tedmedlive event on health issues coming up in Bristol, which hopefully might take forward the discussion.

The evening left people with a lot to think about and there will be further connections made and more events will be held on this subject in the future.  The RSA Bristol network are planning their next event in the Making our Futures series, which is going to focus on the future of Bristol as a city on Tuesday 23 April, more information will be available soon.  The series was funded by the West Venture fund and has a number of events lined up for the rest of 2013 and beyond.  To apply to the West Venture fund please see this webpage  

On a practical level last week I attended the first drop-in session for ‘Social Mirror’, a new RSA project which has recently been launched, and is based in Knowle West in Bristol.  Social Mirror is a digital tool designed to help people understand their social networks, and direct them to activities in their area that will improve their health and well-being.    

The session I visited was in a doctor’s surgery in Knowle West and there was a good level of interest in the project.  The pilot project will work with GPs and other health and community workers to use the software for ‘social prescribing’. This involves linking people to appropriate community resources, organisations and networks of individuals that will benefit their mental, emotional and physical health.

The tool will be trialled with disengaged young people and isolated older people in Knowle West - watch this video to find out more. To find out how to get involved email david.amesbury@rsa.org.uk. You can also follow progress on twitter @socialmirrorapp or by signing up on the Social Mirror website.

Lou Matter is the Programme Manager for West and South West. You can follow her @loumatter

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