Are you ready to ELBA? Building healthy communities where we work

 In Blog, CEO's blog, Community

I have been in this job for just four weeks now, and already it’s starting to  be hard to remember life before ELBA. This week has a been a real plunge into a whirl of east London life, from corporate issues on the 30th Floor of 1 Canada Square, to the St Paul’s Way partnership in Poplar, to my first visit to the inspiring Bromley by Bow Centre (@bromley_by_bow). I have met a lot of long-standing east London leaders along the way, and it has been great to get their take on the current east London issues.

One theme that has been particularly prominent this week is health and wellbeing. This might seem a bit remote for ELBA, concerned as we are with bridging the gap between our corporate members and the community. But in the world of public health, the thinking is that community wellbeing should be thought of as less determined by disease and medical issues, but just as much by three other factors – a good job, a good home, and good personal relationships. At least two of which are central to what we do at ELBA.

I saw first-hand in St Paul’s Way how ELBA members have tackled these issues head on. Morgan Stanley (@morganstanley) has been a long-standing and significant supporter of the transformation in the area. Its Healthy Cities initiative has put a health advisor into the GP practice, supported health education and exercise sessions, created new play spaces and supported breakfast clubs for children in the school holidays. Its aim is to make a measurable impact on child health and well-being – and they are doing it in seven cities globally. It just so happens to be in St Paul’s Way as far as the UK is concerned.

It is deeply impressive and inspiring stuff. Our goal is to take what we can learn from projects like St Paul’s and Bromley by Bow Centre and to spread it to other areas, to engage a wider group of ELBA members in getting to grips with this issue which impacts on not just individual lives, but whole communities and in turn on the workforce and the business environment. The scope is huge but the first lesson we take from St Paul’s as we get ready to ELBA on this issue, is to focus and to tightly concentrate all the energy and resources from all the partners  – that makes the impact bigger. And to engage the people who actually live and run businesses in the area- that spreads the ownership and makes it sustainable.



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