Tackling health inequalities

Partnerships of community organisations

Hackney CVS has secured a range of funding streams to help tackle deep-rooted health inequalities in the borough.

Many of the organisations working with people living in the greatest poverty, and with the greatest needs, are actually operating in poverty.


“I am young and witnessing older people living the life despite all these challenges made me look forward to long life. I can do this and I am ready and willing to take the bull by the horns.”

– local young woman living with HIV who attended the peer support HIV programme Hackney Yams


Hackney CVS believe strongly that the way to a fairer Hackney is to support people where they are and build services around people’s needs; community groups do this and this is why their communities trust them”.

In bringing together partnerships of grassroots organisations with insights into their communities we aim to:

  • support access to mainstream services by BAMER (Black, Asian, Minority ethnic and Refugee) residents furthest from services;
  • evidence the reach of community organisations and the difference they make at a grassroots level;
  • help signpost people to the right services health services for them;
  • get Hackney residents to be more proactive in self-care and taking up preventative measures.

Between January to April 2018, Hackney CVS had four proposals agreed or recommended for funding that will challenge local health inequalities:

Supporting migrants to access health services

The continuation of the information and signposting project has been agreed by the CCG (City and Hackney Clinical commissioning group) to support migrants who are unable to access mainstream provision. Supported by Hackney Refugee Forum and delivered in a range of community languages, migrants are supported to access relevant health services and support from Doctors of the World – an independent humanitarian movement working to empower excluded people to access healthcare.

In the first 18 months of the project the grassroots organisation provided signposting to 2,200 people. The additional funding will enable us to provide training in line with the national competencies for care navigation and explore aligning training with the GP confederation GP receptionists; A&E navigators.


Many of the organisations working with the people living in the greatest poverty, and with the greatest needs, are actually operating in poverty”.

Bowel Cancer awareness-raising in the African Community

We have also been approved for funding for a new project on Bowel Cancer awareness-raising in the African Community from the City & Hackney Healthier Hackney Fund. This is in partnership with Community African Network (CAN), an organisation we have supported to constitute. Community African Network is made up of seven African grassroots community organisations. The aim of this project is to ensure Black Africans are aware of and take up bowel cancer screening as research shows they have low awareness and are more likely to present late, therefore reducing chances of survival.

Janet Murungi from CAN comments: “The Bowel Cancer Awareness project in the African Community will enable this community to make informed choices by taking up early bowel cancer screening; it will save lives”.

As part of the project Hackney CVS will host a post co-managed by Community African Network and this post will both support the delivery of the programme and enable us to support CAN’s organisational development.

Peer Support for people living with long-term health conditions

Our proposal for the continuation of the Peer Support programme has been successful. The aim of this programme is to support people with long term health conditions in culturally appropriate ways to make the necessary lifestyle changes to manage their condition better, we have funded own language provision; and provision targeting those furthest from services.

This programme has been running for two years and the external evaluation report from work to date will be available in April, and we will hold an evidence sharing event on this.

Over the past two years we have given out over 24 grants of up £4000 each and we aim to give out a further £60,000 worth of grants this year.

One of the previously funded projects was Hackney Yams, an initiative to bring together and support Hackney people of African descent living with HIV. One young woman who accessed the project commented:

“I thought I had the most complicated chronic illness to deal with. But as we went along I actually realised that there are people who experience more complex issues than me. I am young and witnessing older people living the life despite all these challenges made me look forward to long life. I can do this and I am ready and willing to take the bull by the horns”.

A major aspect of the programme is collating evidence of behaviour change. We are also actively working to link grant-funded groups with health professionals. The grants scheme will open up again after April 2018.

IT Enablers

We have been granted funding for an 18-month post of IT enablers. This post will support us in developing the IT infrastructure of the VCS, and will also be scoping out a digital platform for social prescribing which should enable us to capture the outcomes of a wide variety of activities and feed in a lot of evidence of wellbeing activities on the ground to the cross health and social care sector data analysis.

Brett concludes: “Our strategy is to skill up organisations that have reach into communities, in terms of the advice they give and their understanding of how the (confusing) system works so they can support to people to appropriately access the services they need, and in terms of them being able to collect the evidence they need to be able to bring in funding for the amazing work they do.”

Hackney CVS is committed to working with organisations that have reach into communities that do not access mainstream services.


Image shows (l-r)

Charles Middleton, Hackney CVS Chair, Jake Ferguson, Hackney CVS CEO and Janet Murungi, Head of Community African Network