Community Plan sets out vision for tackling health inequalities

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Empowering local people to lead healthy lives and preventing physical and mental illness are two of the key aims set out in the Draft Community Plan.

The 40-page document, which is currently the subject of a district-wide public consultation process, sets out a vision for community planning in the Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council area between 2017 and 2032.

This week we take a closer look at the third of the five main themes set out by the Strategic Community Planning Partnership - ‘Health and Wellbeing’.

The draft plan highlights a number of key issues such as Lisburn and Castlereagh’s growing population of people aged 65+, health inequalities between different areas and the need for a ‘joined up’ approach to health with a focus on community health.

“Healthy, fulfilling and long lives depend much more on the capacity that individuals have to live well than on a healthcare system that, no matter how good it is, can only help once things have gone wrong,” the plan states.

“Excellent healthcare is important for this Community Plan but our focus is on empowering people to lead healthy lives, on preventing physical and mental illness, on intervening in those crucial early years and helping people to age actively.

“We have an ageing population and one of the most effective means of improving quality of life for older people is to encourage physical activity and healthy lifestyles in middle age. We will also seek World Health Organisation Age-Friendly status to improve the lives of older people in myriad ways.

“One of the greatest injustices of our society is that the poorer you are, the worse your health and the shorter your life. A priority for this plan will be tackling health inequalities.”

The plan aims to achieve a number of key outcomes, including:

• Better health will be experienced by people in all areas.

• Older people age actively and more independently to stay well and connected.

• People of all ages are more physically active more often.

• There is good access to countryside and other green spaces for everyone.

• Hazardous drinking and smoking are reduced.

• We enjoy good mental health.

• Fuel poverty is reduced.

• Our home environments are safe and healthy.

• Poverty and disadvantage is reduced.

It also details a range of short-term objectives for 2017 - 2019, including securing World Health Organisation Age-Friendly status for Lisburn and Castlereagh; implementing a programme of home energy insulation to reduce fuel poverty; delivering programmes to promote physical activity, healthy weight and positive mental health; and developing a multi-agency approach to address health inequalities and improve mental health.

• The council is encouraging local people to have their say on the Draft Community Plan.

Copies of the document can be downloaded from the council’s website - www.lisburncastlereagh.gov.uk

As part of the ongoing public consultation process, a series of community engagement sessions are taking place across the Lisburn and Castlereagh area between now and March 1.

For further information email haveyoursay@lisburncastlereagh.gov.uk