( A brief ) welcome from the editor
As we are well in to the new year rather than offer greetings best wishes for survival in this turbulent world lets carry on as optimistically as we can and review various projects that EHFF is currently engaged in (and a couple we hope to be involved in later in the year).
Patient & Community Empowerment
Firstly, the latest developments on our long-term project to create a Europe-wide not-for-profit resource on patient and community empowerment.
The Centre for Empowering Patients and Communities is now established as an independent entity, in the form of a Community Interest Trust (CiC) in the UK, now that the funding from the Robert Bosch Stiftung has finished. One important part of the contract with the Foundation was that CEmPaC would be sustainable, that is, continue to function after the funding ended. The new Trust, with Jim Philips, Danni Brown and myself as Directors, aims to do just that.
Second: the continuation of our long-term project on supporting transformational change of the European Health Ecosystem.
Although we failed to agree a way forward with the Johnson & Johnson Foundation following our pilot project funded by them that ended in the Spring of last year, we felt that valuable progress had been made. What followed was a period of reflection, as well as exploration of possible avenues for alternative funding. A lengthy discussion at the EHFF October face to face Strategy meeting in London was also useful. You might say that this phase was an example of ‘reculer pour mieux sauter’. Looking forward for this year, the team are keen to get to grips with this challenge, so watch this space for developments as they happen!
The Wellbeing Economy
Third: our activities related to promoting the wellbeing economy globally, in Brussels and in Ireland.
Taking these in reverse order. Since October 2021 when we announced the setting up of the all-Ireland WEAll hub, in which EHFF is one of a half dozen founder members, the Hub meets more or less monthly and has held a number of events. We have our own webpage on the global WEAll site: weall.org/ireland. During 2022 we created the concept of a project to create transformational change in local communities via harnessing a group of creative artists to form a community of practice, aimed at stimulating the public imagination and shifting people’s vision. This we called the ‘cultural creatives’. The project has attracted initial funding from the Carnegie UK Trust and we aim to hold the first session of the group, a ‘Deep Dive’ at the Derry Playhouse by the end of March.
You’ll see that there is a clear overlap between the WEAll Irish work and the previous mentioned project on transformation of our ideas and practice in relation to health. A similar overlap exists between the Irish hub work and our membership of several NGO consortia active within the policy ‘bubble’ of Brussels. We have previously mentioned our role in helping write a policy paper for the ‘Healthy Europe’ AP4HE group and we have continuing involvement there. This is the last phase of the current EU health programme and many NGOs are getting together to try and influence the policy agenda for the next round. We’re involved in two of them, the EU wellbeing economy coalition and the European Health Coalition and as they formulate their plans for this year, we’ll report back.
The global WEAll hubs meet monthly, and we see ourselves as having a special role in representing health in such gatherings, as the economy and the environment are well represented but education and health have a much lower profile. Of interest currently is a plan to convene a European group of WEAll Hubs and we wait to see in what direction this may evolve.
Mental Health in the Workplace
Finally, last April we advised you of our engagement, as well as that of Jim Phillips and CEmPaC, in a project led by DCHE aimed at improving mental health in the workplace (see: well@sme: mentalhealth4work.eu)
This project kicked off a little later in 2022 than planned but is now fully operational. We‘ve had an enduring engagement with mental health work, and bearing in mind our commitment to a holistic view of health there are real challenges to determine what promoting mental health, rather than treating mental illness, really means in practice. A week ago, the European Commission launched a short consultation exercise on a roadmap for mental health in Europe and we intend to contribute, as no doubt many interested parties will also.
In terms of other projects, there are always possibilities to be involved in bids for topics that we might contribute to. Currently there are two ERASMUS+ bids, one related to supporting careers and the other to training health staff to think differently when dealing with their patients (mentalisation). We are also applying for an Operating Grant from the EU4Health programme, to support our Commission related activities. Let’s see how these all turn out.
I’m aware that this has been simply a list of actions without much ‘meat in the sandwich’. Next time, as we did last September, we aim to have members of our community telling you what really excites them about their current work.