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How Can We Dismantle Health Inequity Together?

A reflection on the National Voices’ 2021 conference which set out to explore the Voluntary, Community, and Social Enterprise (VCSE) sector’s role in tackling health and care inequity.

  • Health inequalities
  • Lived experience
  • Person-centred care

Sharing experiences and acting to challenge health inequalities

National Voices’ 2021 conference, How Can We Dismantle Health Inequity Together? ran over four days in March 2021. Each day was focused on a different theme, with the four being: poverty, racial inequality, digital exclusion, and next steps. The event provided an interactive virtual experience to enable VCSE organisations to share their work, insights and ideas about how to collaborate to dismantle health inequity. Participants were able to identify examples of how they’ve already been effective, as well as what is limiting their ability to act to challenge health inequalities.  

Over the conference, we covered the VCSE sector’s role in responding to the unequal impact of COVID-19, explored opportunities for cross-sector working and identified influencing priorities. We also discussed how to tell stories of health inequity that will be better heard by decision makers. 

Insight from thought leaders and people with lived experience

We were delighted to host attendees from VCSE organisations, the NHS, academia, patient groups, government and beyond. We also facilitated sessions with a host of sector experts, including Sir Michael Marmot, Professor of Epidemiology at University College London, Director of The UCL Institute of Health Equity and author of The Marmot Review 10 Years On. Others included Jo Bibby, Director of Health at the Health Foundation, and Dr Bola Owolabi, Director for Health Inequalities at NHS England and NHS Improvement.

Achieving change by collectively moving forward

Whilst understanding the enormity of the task at hand, we recognised that change can be achieved by collectively moving forward, reframing the issues and arguments, and working with people with lived experience who have the moral authority and determination to drive change. 

We emerged from the conference with a greater understanding of health inequity, and with a greater commitment from charity colleagues, funders and partners to address this social dimension of health through their work. 

The conference and resultant report were kindly supported by the Health Foundation and PPL.