- Year of graduation:
Public health is both a passion and profession for Richard Lewis. Working for the National Assembly for Wales, Welsh Government and Public Health Wales, he’s helped raise awareness and establish programmes to improve people’s health and wellbeing. Richard has been involved in projects and campaigns spanning every aspect of public health, from food and fitness through to climate change and economic resilience.
While working with the Welsh Government, Richard completed a distance learning Master of Public Health degree with Staffordshire University. The degree was essential for his application to work for Public Health Wales on the recently introduced Wellbeing of Future Generations Act, which brings 44 public bodies together to consider the long-term wellbeing of Wales.
“I love working on public health and it’s something I want to continue with as it has a real, visible impact on people’s lives,” Richard said. “Wales is a small country so we should be able to work together in creative ways to really improve the lives of the people of Wales – something the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act challenges us to do.”
Growing up in South Wales, Richard’s schooling was focussed on traditional courses, which pushed him away from pursuing A-levels. Instead he chose an Advanced Business GNVQ at Wales’s largest further education college, Coleg Gwent. “It was much more about course work, practical learning and work experience, which appealed to me,” Richard recalled.
He took a particular interest in the marketing aspect of the vocational qualification, which prompted him to start a Business and Marketing degree at the University of Glamorgan. He graduated in 2000 and soon after joined the recently formed National Assembly for Wales.“The Assembly was created in 1999 so, when I joined in 2000, there were lots of exciting opportunities,” Richard said.
In 2004, Richard moved into a public health role in the Welsh Government, where he spent a year working as a coordinator for Health Challenge Wales. He then moved to Sport and Active Wales Unit, working closely with the chair and chief executive of Sport Wales for three years, before returning to public health.
In Public Health Division, Richard managed a voluntary sector grant scheme, which supported community groups promoting health and wellbeing. In 2009, he was promoted to a middle management role, working with employers to improve health in the workplace, as part of the Healthy Working Wales programme.
Master of Public Health
In 2010, Richard started the Master of Public Health Degree with Staffordshire University. “I decided I wanted more public health knowledge so started to look for a university course with my manager at the time,” Richard said. “Most of the courses we found were pretty full-on, with lots of time required outside of work and during the working week. Staffordshire University’s course was different. I submitted an enquiry and it was answered really quickly.”
Richard’s dissertation focussed on micro businesses and the barriers for taking part in Government workplace health schemes. He said: “Surprisingly, many said cost wasn’t a barrier, actually preferring to pay a contribution over a free service. It was time and also a feeling that it wasn’t their role to look after the health and wellbeing of their staff.”
Richard graduated in 2015 and moved on to become programme manager for Public Health Wales, working on the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act in May 2016. He has also applied to become a UK Public Health Register (PHR) practitioner, which would see him join a prestigious group of quality-assured experts who hold roles of great influence on public health and wellbeing.
“If selected, I will need to submit a portfolio of work from the last three years to apply,” Richard said. “If I get added to the register, I can then apply for membership to the Faculty of Public Health. It would bring all my public health work together in one portfolio, which I’ve never done before. I should hear whether I can start this exercise in March.”