The Centre for Health and Development (CHAD) was originally established as an innovative partnership between Stoke-on-Trent City Council, Staffordshire County Council and Staffordshire University. Its purpose is to undertake translational, applied research to improve the health and wellbeing of our local population and contribute to the reduction of social and health inequalities. By bringing together local government, academia and local communities, CHAD has been endorsed by Sir Michael Marmot as being ‘exactly what is needed’ to tackle heath inequalities and address the social determinants of health.
In a time of diminishing public sector resources and evidence of increasing health inequalities the two Local Authorities recognised the need to be able to evidence effectiveness of public health interventions locally, whilst developing the evidence base of not only what works, but also how interventions work to improve health and wellbeing and reduce health inequalities.
In partnership with Staffordshire University they identified 3 years of funding to establish CHAD as centre for translational research which would focus on health and social inequalities and respond to local priorities as identified by the health and wellbeing boards, JSNA and community voice. Initial funding for CHAD was made available from July 2015 to August 2018, and CHAD has been fully operational from July 2016.
From August 2018 onwards, CHAD was adopted and supported as a mainstream Staffordshire University research centre, whilst continuing to maintain and develop links with external partners to operate as a collaborative research centre.
Collaboration is at the heart of CHAD delivery. We have a developed an infrastructure based around the three strands of CHAD which enables us to engage with a wide range of partners proactively, and to maximise the assets available to us.
Our research aligns closely with several UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including:
- Goal 3 – Good health and wellbeing
- Goal 10 – Reduced health inequalities
- Goal 11 – Sustainable cities and communities
CHAD has four thematic areas: Healthy Communities and Place, Healthy Living, Health Inclusion and Healthy Start.
Healthy Communities and Place
This theme focuses on the physical and social characteristics of communities and the extent to which they enable and promote health and wellbeing. There is a social gradient in relation to the level of ‘healthy’ community characteristics of communities, for example, access to good quality, useable green-space, access to affordable nutritious food, and good quality housing options, as well as differences in levels of social capital.
The role of natural environments and green space in determining the health of local populations is an area of specialist interest to CHAD.
The prevention of ill health and promotion of positive health and wellbeing is the focus of this theme.
The theme is important because many of the key health behaviours that contribute to the development of chronic disease follow the social gradient such as smoking, obesity, lack of physical activity and poor nutrition. Reducing health inequalities therefore requires a focus on these health behaviours and the implementation of evidence-based interventions that relate to the social determinants of health.
This theme focuses on the health and wellbeing of people in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent who may experience complex and multiple needs and/or who may have difficulty accessing universal services. This could include, but is not limited to, people who experience substance misuse, homelessness and mental distress, migrants and/or offenders.
The theme is important because people from marginalised groups often have poorer health outcomes. The Marmot review (2010) sets out six policy objectives that are required to reduce health inequalities.
Maternal and child health are the focus of this theme. This includes the health and wellbeing of women who are pregnant and/or have young children, the children themselves, and their significant others.
The first objective in the Marmot review (2010) states that every child should be given the best start in life. Furthermore, action to reduce health inequalities must start before birth and be followed through the life course of the child. Thus, research around a healthy start, specific to the local needs of Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent, is important.