Major Community Conference Announced to Discuss Reducing Health Inequalities in North East Essex

Posted on: October 5, 2021

The North East Essex Health and Wellbeing Alliance have announced a major virtual community conference with Professor Sir Michael Marmot, Director of the Institute of Health Equity (UCL Department of Epidemiology & Public Health).

Taking place on Monday 11th October, titled Communities Can…Build Back Fairer, the conference aims to raise awareness of how living through Covid for the past 18 months has highlighted a host of inequalities in health outcomes.

Tracy Rudling, CEO at Community360 said: “The conference is the first phase of a commitment from local leadership that we are not going back to the status quo, there must be systematic change to ‘Build Back Fairer.’ This also comes on the back of our ‘Communities Responding to Crisis’ report which was co-designed by Community360 and the University of Essex.”

She added: “Colloquially called ‘We Are Not Going Back’ internally at Community360, our first ambition is to establish a community voluntary sector leadership forum.  There has never been a better time to form such an alliance of local leaders and community champions.”

Keynote speaker, Professor Sir Michael Marmot has led research groups on health inequalities for nearly 50 years.  He chaired the Commission on Equity and Health Inequalities in the Americas, set up in 2015 by the World Health Organization’s Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO/ WHO) and chaired the Commission on Social Determinants of Health (CSDH), which was set up by the World Health Organization in 2005, and produced the report entitled: ‘Closing the Gap in a Generation’ in August 2008.  At the request of the British Government, he conducted the Strategic Review of Health Inequalities in England post 2010, which published its report ‘Fair Society, Healthy Lives’ in February 2010. This was followed by the European Review of Social Determinants of Health and the Health Divide, for WHO EURO in 2014; Health Equity in England: Marmot Review 10 Years On, in 2020; Build Back Fairer: the COVID-19 Marmot Review in 2021; and the Report of the Commission on Social Determinants of Health in the Eastern Mediterranean Region, for WHO EMRO, also in 2021.

Sir Professor Michael Marmot said: “Taking action to reduce health inequalities is a matter of social justice. In developing strategies for tackling health inequalities, we need to confront the social gradient in health not just the difference between the worst off and everybody else.” Said Sir Michael Marmot. He added: “There is clear evidence when we look across countries that national policies make a difference and that much can be done in cities, towns and local areas. But policies and interventions must not be confined to the health care system; they need to address the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age.  The evidence shows that economic circumstances are important but are not the only drivers of health inequalities. Tackling the health gap will take action, based on sound evidence, across the whole of society.”

He will be joined by other guest speakers from Anglia Ruskin University, the University of Essex and ESNEFT as well as local citizens who will be sharing their stories.

Mark Jarman-Howe, Chief Executive, St Helena and Chair, North East Essex Health and Wellbeing Alliance said:

“It is becoming all too clear that the pandemic has exacerbated pre-existing inequalities in access to support and health outcomes for our communities. All partners in the North East Essex Health and Wellbeing Alliance are determined to do everything in our collective power to turn the curve to address this. The Communities Can virtual conference is both an opportunity to share learning and a rallying cry for us to build back better together.”

Vicki Decroo, Deputy Chief Operating Officer at North East Essex Clinical Commissioning Group said:

“We know that the Pandemic has significantly impacted our communities, services closing especially during lockdowns have meant that some residents have not be able to access the full range of community activities and services that they may have needed to remain physically and mentally well and active. We are also aware that this has caused some of our inequalities to widen.

Whilst some communities have come together and are even more connected, we are aware that others have found finding a path through lockdowns more difficult or have had to close or reduce the social activities that previously supported the community to remain connected.

As a collective Alliance of health and care partners, we have achieved a great deal in our immediate response, however, the challenge of tackling our inequalities has never been higher and the Communities Can conference provides us a real opportunity to address this through whole system action”.

Dr Rebecca Warren is a lecturer in Accounting at the University of Essex and together with Dr Alix Green have been collaborating with Community360 on the ‘Communities Responding to Crisis’ report:

“Both Dr Alix Green and I are delighted to be speaking at the conference. To understand and respond to this national crisis we must unpack the human lived experience at the local level. The voluntary sector landscape has been at the forefront of the COVID-19 crisis response in multiple ways and through the development of this report we have a sense of the absolute and immediate human impact of what this means for people delivering these services during the pandemic.”

Colchester Borough Council Strategic Director of Customer and Relationships, Pam Donnelly said: “I am extremely proud of how local stakeholders, including volunteers, organisations and charities have adapted throughout the pandemic. By working in partnership, we have united to support some of the most vulnerable members of the local community, in the context of unprecedented challenges.

“While we have come together for the benefit of our residents, we are still facing challenging levels of inequalities across North-East Essex as a result of Covid-19. That’s why it is crucial that we continue working together to tackle these issues. This will ensure that we offer the community access to the resources and support needed to assist the borough’s recovery from the impact of the pandemic.”

Dr Oonagh Corrigan is a Senior Lecturer in Public Health at Anglia Ruskin University and will be speaking at the conference. She is a highly experienced qualitative health researcher with a reputation for leading research that produces regional, national and international impact.

“People are naturally social in nature and with life becoming more isolated during and post-COVID-19 as we engage in social distancing and working from home, our follow-up calls revealed that many people were finding life very difficult when these organisations were not available to them.” Said Dr Corrigan. “We believe these groups will be of huge importance for the health and wellbeing of communities in the post-COVID-19 world, and recommend they are promoted and funded appropriately, with group leaders encouraged to apply for grants and given free training. GPs could even ‘socially prescribe’ joining up with a community group.”

“After the conference, it is important that we keep the conversation going.” Said Tracy Rudling.

“We hope local leaders will come together to strengthen leadership culture and create a collaborative call to action, a unified and consolidated voluntary and community sector leadership forum in Colchester which will fight for a less unequal society and challenge the cultural norms. It will be known as the Marmot Community Sector Leadership Forum and the first meeting will take place following the conference.  We would love any local charitable organisations operating across the Borough to join us and will be releasing further information on this soon.”


The conference takes place on 11th October 2-4.30pm and is FREE to attend

CLICK HERE for further details.

Book your FREE place through Eventbrite –

Author: Jade Bolton
Categories: News

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