The Lothian Community Health Initiatives’ Forum (LCHIF) is a membership organisation and registered charity (SC023808) which aims to support the work of Community Health Initiatives across the City of Edinburgh and Lothians.
Community Health Initiatives are local charities, projects and groups that work with communities to improve long-term health outcomes, in an effort to reduce health inequalities across the Lothian region.
The Forum supports members by providing opportunities to meet, exchange best practice, and learn together. Our members share a common ideal that it is people in their own communities who are best placed to collectively improve their own health and live better lives.
The Lothian Community Health Initiatives’ Forum works in partnership at different strategic levels to reduce health inequalities. The Forum believes that the needs of local people in communities are ultimately what ought to drive agendas at all levels. The Forum seeks to facilitate community participation, collective action, and collaborative working between the Third sector, NHS Lothian and Edinburgh City Council.
The Forum are represented by Stephanie-Anne Harris on the Strategic Planning Group of the Integrated Joint Board
Tackling health inequalities
Health inequalities are differences in health between different groups of people.
Some groups of people in Scotland experience poorer health than the majority of the population. These health inequalities can be caused by life circumstances such as poverty, low income, low quality housing, and a lack of opportunity to participate in activities that create good health.
Health inequalities can also arise from discrimination relating to gender, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, or a disability.
Differences in a person’s social and economic circumstances can therefore impact all sorts of health indicators, such as weight, periods of ill-health, mental wellbeing, and affect the chances of developing a major disease.
Working with Community Health Initiatives
Community Health Initiatives work closely with local people to identify health issues relevant to their own community.
The Scottish Government recognises that health inequalities are a major reason why the health and social care system needs to improve. Community Health Initiatives therefore have a strategic role to play in delivering health improvements in areas that need it most.
Members of the Lothian Community Health Initiatives’ Forum enable communities to address health inequalities and pioneer locally-tailored approaches to health.
Strong research evidence supports this community development approach, with Community Health Initiatives delivering fantastic individual health gains, from enabling people to eat healthier diets, to reducing the damaging effects of social isolation.
Championing Community Development
The work of Lothian Community Health Initiatives’ Forum and its member organisations is grounded in a community development approach to health. This means empowering communities to prioritise and address their own health needs, by building resources within these communities, and influencing mainstream services and policies to become better suited to local needs.
Underpinning this approach is a commitment to a holistic, social model to health, which takes into account the social, environmental, and economic context of people’s lives and the subsequent impact on their health.
Community Health Initiatives have a wealth of experience of working with people in communities to enable them to express their concerns and work for change.
Members of the Lothian Community Health Initiatives’ Forum recognise the strength of communities in Edinburgh and the Lothian region, and value the expert knowledge people in communities have developed through years of experience.