Fairer, Greener, Healthier: communities creating their own wealth and health in Salford

Orla McCann profile picture

10 June 2024

Orla McCann
Project Manager
Unlimited Potential

Salford has the fastest growing economy and population in north-west England. There are several major developments in the city and multiple town centre regeneration projects underway. However, health outcomes in Salford are worse than the average in England and life expectancy is 10 years less in areas of lower wealth in the city compared with areas with greater wealth.

In response, Salford has begun a journey of economic transformation with a range of initiatives to create a fairer, greener and healthier city. The Economies for Healthier Lives programme, funded by The Health Foundation, aims to create a local economy that is good for people's health and well-being and gives everyone the opportunity to participate.

Anchor institutions and community wealth building 

Economies for Healthier Lives Salford adopts a community wealth building approach, using co-production with local people in economic development.

Anchor institutions, are large organisations who have an important presence in a place usually determined by their footprint and fixed assets in the area as well as being tied to a particular place by their history, mission or local relationships. NHS Providers have highlighted the role of NHS trusts as anchor institutions within their local areas, which involves embedding a culture of community engagement. 

Community wealth building is an economic approach which focuses on local resources, works to re-distribute wealth and create an economy that benefits everyone. Our work in Salford is centred on local resources and existing strengths that the city offers. Involving local people in economic development is a unique focus of our work compared to other examples of community wealth building in the UK so far. We are connecting anchor institutions with communities who are now co-producing solutions to addressing health inequalities together.

Local social enterprises to supply goods to services 

Our project supports young adults in Salford to create collectively owned social enterprises to supply goods, works and services to local anchor institutions based on the market information they provide on recurrent annual spend. This is the progressive procurement element of community wealth building. Research - such as that carried out by The Yunus Centre in Glasgow has provided a strong evidence base for an approach such as ours, which links social business and health. 

Co-production between the two groups is a crucial element of this work and enables truly co-created solutions to worsening health outcomes and a better economic future when power is shared and relationships are formed. Local people are provided with increased control over their future which results in feeling more hopeful about their lives with improved health and wellbeing. 

Social value approaches in the Northern Care Alliance 

The Salford Local Anchors Network was created in 2023 as a tool to embed community wealth building. The network consists of nine members across the public, private and VCSE sector.  

One of the founding members in Salford is the Northern Care Alliance (NCA) represented on the anchors network by Salford Royal Hospital. In an interview in 2023 with Donna McLaughlin, Director of Social Value Creation, at the NCA on being a member of the anchors network, she shared that their motivations in embracing community wealth building came from the need to address social determinants of health which make up 60-70% of a person's overall health.  

In 2020 the NCA board committed to their anchor institutions and social value work, recognising their role as one of the largest employers in the area. Donna reflected on the value of participating in the network, which provides an infrastructure to share learning among peers and to collaborate with wider system partners. The NCA have focused on improving their employment pathways – growing the workforce belonging to local areas from 45% in 2019 to 62% in 2023. This included hosting a one-stop recruitment event in a community setting in Salford.

Learn more from the Salford experience 

If you are interested in hearing more about this or are trying to do something similar in your place, between November 2023 and October 2024, we are sharing our journey of using co-production in economic development for health improvement on Substack. Each month, we will publish a new chapter on our 'Economics with People' Substack that shares our journey, what we are learning and what we hope will come next. Subscribe and leave comments, be a part of the conversation. We believe in the power of collective wisdom, and your input can shape the direction of our journey.

The Salford anchors network, over time, will work to address challenges members collectively face such as the impact of the pandemic on health inequalities, future workforce and embedding health and wellbeing in local regeneration and development opportunities. 

NHS trusts play a key role both as anchor institutions in their local areas and in embedding co-production within the design and delivery of their services. The NHS Providers Health Inequalities programme aims to support trusts to make sense of health inequalities and embed it as part of core business. Our resources make the case for why and how trust leaders can take action.

About the author

Orla McCann profile picture

Orla McCann
Project Manager

Orla McCann is the project manager for the Economies for Healthier Lives project in Salford. Orla works for Unlimited Potential who specialise in social and economic innovation.

Following an academic background in criminology and social work, Orla has experience of working with diverse groups and communities to understand and address inequalities. She is currently developing the Salford Local Anchors Network with nine of the largest organisations in Salford to embed a community wealth building approach to economic change and reducing health inequalities.

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