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Paper: 115 Final Report on the sustainability and legacy of Healthy Living Centres in Wales.

Dr Eva Elliott, Ms Fiona Shirani, Professor Gareth Williams

Funded by the New Opportunities Fund (now known as the Big Lottery Fund or BIG) the Healthy Living Centre (HLC) programme was initiated in 1998 in response to the UK Government’s drive to tackle inequalities and address the broader socio-economic determinants of health. Some 351 HLCs were funded throughout the UK, 29 of which were in Wales. Informed by a political approach to public policy which emphasised community action and cross sector networks or partnerships as mechanisms to bring about change, the programme represented an approach to health inequalities that rejected reliance on either state intervention or market mechanisms.

Following on from a UK evaluation of the programme this study focuses on the sustainability and possible legacy of the HLC programme in Wales. Informed by theories of sustainability this report draws on interviews with HLC managers or co-ordinators, local evaluation documents and a policy seminar to assess the extent to which the programme has been sustained in Wales. It looks beyond whether individual projects have continued to whether there have been changes in ways of working across sectors or engaging with the public to address perceived health priorities. Factors that promote or hinder sustainability are grouped in terms of how the HLC projects were designed, how they were implemented and managed and how they were positioned within the wider health economy. The experience, role and purposes of evaluation were also explored in relation to both attempts to make a case for sustainability and as a mechanism for capturing learning from the programme.

The paper concludes with recommendations for policy makers, commissioners of similar programmes and practioners working in community level health projects.

Paper: 115 Final Report on the sustainability and legacy of Healthy Living Centres in Wales., Cardiff School of Social Sciences, Series Working Paper Series, September(2008), ISBN 978-1-904815-76-1

Additional Information

A report to the Department for Public Health and Health Professions