Healthy Communities Research Forum: Opportunities in change

Project details

Duration: January 2011 – May 2013

Sponsor: NHS South West

Project leader for WHO CC: Sarah Burgess

Project summary

This project will see a series of five fora aimed at exploring opportunities during a time of policy and organisational transition in public health and local planning. The intention is to build a network of practitioners and researchers seeking to take advantage of this period of change to ensure better outcomes for the wider determinants of health though spatial planning, transport investments and regeneration proposals.


The setting up of a national Public Health Service, the transfer of public health responsibilities from PCTs to local authorities and the focus on place making and localism in planning all contribute to a tremendous opportunity for the public health to contribute to making healthier and more sustainable communities.

The WHO Collaborating Centre has been running a successful series of seminars as the Healthy Communities Research Forum for over five years. There can be up to four a year.

The unique approach of each is to ensure good engagement with public health and planning practitioners from the wider Avon region. The fora also deliberately seek good attendance from staff from both the Department of Planning and Architecture and The Department of Health and Applied Social Sciences at UWE.

The Fora are a part of the ‘partnership’ university approach and have been supported by NHS Southwest and the local Directors of Public Health.


This popular seminar series reconvened in 2006 with a theme of linking health with sustainable development. The WHO Collaborating Centre at UWE has a strategic commitment to build capacity in this area with regional stakeholders.

Each session begins at lunchtime with a drink and food reception and last the duration of a normal working afternoon. Following agenda-setting presentations, participants will be supported in dialogues that examine the issues and potential solutions.

The forum seeks to stimulate ideas and help build a constituency of support and commitment at UWE and within the region an integrated approach to health and sustainable development, through:

  • Providing a forum for discussion of important research / practice issues in relation to health, well-being and the future of settlements, drawing explicitly on both research and practice expertise and insights.
  • Drawing together different communities of interest: public health, community development and safety, spatial planning, built environment, urban design, environmental science etc, and thus bridge between faculties, disciplines and professions