Introducing public health
Introducing public health

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Introducing public health

5 Everybody’s business?

In this final section of the course you consider how far individuals, groups and communities might get involved in safeguarding and promoting public health.

Activity 6 investigating your own locality

1 hour

Using Google [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] , or your favourite search engine, find the web page of your local council. You may find it helpful to go to Gov.UK – which is UK-wide – and locate the relevant web page from there. Use the search engine to find your local community strategy document.

Find out and make notes on what your local strategy has to say about health inequalities and what priorities it sets for improving health in the local area. You will find your local strategy a useful resource informing your own public health action.


You should now be familiar with the community strategy of your local council and what a useful resource it can be. The community strategy for Northampton, for example, recorded significant health inequalities between different parts of the town linked to levels of unemployment, housing and income. Improving access to leisure and cultural activities was seen as a top priority to make healthier choices easier. Emphasis was also given to promoting good health, housing and social wellbeing. The community strategy identified the importance of partnership working with a range of stakeholders and organisations, including primary care trusts.

Last, but not least, much of the work of public health is in the hands of informal public health workers – you and me.

Activity 8 Informal public health

30 minutes

Read Section 4.4 of the document below, Who promotes public health?, which is an extract from Chapter 4 of Theory and Research in Promoting Health (eds. Earle et al, 2007).

Reflect on the role of the family as an informal promoter of public health. What influence can it have on the choices affecting health its members make? What impact might such informal health work have on those who engage in it?


Family members engage in promoting health, as well as being the focus of health-promoting activity by others. Individuals and agencies can play diverse roles depending on such differences as age, gender, socio-economic status and occupation. Research indicates that women play a pivotal role within the family and that they are primarily responsible for activities which, directly or indirectly, promote health. However, no two families are alike and indeed the concept of ‘the family’ conceals the heterogeneity which exists in real life and across the life course. Women’s health-promoting roles can impact negatively on their own health, for example if they have a demanding caring role (Hirst, 2005). However, such a role can also contribute to the maintenance of a positive self-identity for women.


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