Health and wellbeing: Why others need to Level Up to us

Last week we heard the disappointing news that both Sheffield’s Round 2 ‘Levelling Up’ bids were rejected. But what is so ironic is we have so much others should aspire to. They should level up to us!
Heeley Boulders Festival, a great way for communities to connectHeeley Boulders Festival, a great way for communities to connect
Heeley Boulders Festival, a great way for communities to connect

As clinical director of Heeley Plus Primary Care Network I was part of one of the bids. I know how much heart and soul went into the development and writing of such a bid.

It was very much led by Heeley Trust, but it drew together a coalition of local thinking. Our bid was focused on creating a sustainable local infrastructure to generate good local health and wellbeing. We have great local GP practices, but we can only play our part if the community supports each other too.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The role that local people play themselves within the local context, the public meeting spaces, the green spaces, the culture, how people interact with each other, are crucial.Our bid was building on work already achieved by Heeley Trust to secure places and spaces that underpin good health, and culture of wellbeing.

The £17 million of local investment would undoubtably have unlocked a host of new local assets and resources,

it would have super-boosted the work that is already going on. But let’s not forget the work is already going on. It is happening because local people care about each other and want to do the right things.

It was wonderful to be selected by both the Sheffield Council and Heeley MP Louise Haigh as one of the local bids.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The national ambition was supposed to be one project for every MP constituency. It gives a stamp of approval to what you are doing. In the same way a big influx of investment also gives a tangible validation to your efforts.

It’s saddening on both counts that we need investment and validation.

Investment because there has not been fair distribution of wealth and support. Our national leaders do not seem to understand social justice, and that it is not a level playing field.

Just because theoretically, you could achieve something does not mean it is equally likely or easy. Investment seems to follow a political calculation of where it will win strategic votes, rather than a fair assessment of what will even up opportunity.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

What’s most grating is that we think we need external validation. We should have confidence in what we have. We have a sense of comradery and kinship in Heeley (and Sheffield and the Region), that should be the envy of our more ‘southern’ funders.

We have an abundance of compassion, and creativity, a willingness to work as a team. There is a real risk external investment can disrupt what has been carefully grown over time, through trust and relationships.

While we do need some levelling up of funding and resource, perhaps we can trade back.

We could help level up the sort of community spirit that is needed if money spent anywhere is going to have meaningful impact, and lead to sustainable improvements.