Local councils have a big part to play in the way they allocate resources and organise services to support the health and wellbeing of the communities they serve.

Towards the bottom of this page, you can find a list of resources and training for councils that will help you access a range of health and wellbeing topics.

What do we mean by Health, Wellbeing, Wider Determinants, and Equality?

Here are some definitions of these widely used terms:

Health: The WHO constitution states: “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”

Wellbeing: Wellbeing is about feeling good and functioning well and comprises an individual’s experience of their life  and a comparison of life circumstances with social norms and values. It can be measured in different ways:

  • Subjective (personal) wellbeing asks people directly how they think and feel about their own wellbeing, and includes aspects such as life satisfaction, positive emotions, and whether their life is meaningful.
  • Objective wellbeing is based on assumptions about basic human needs and rights, including aspects such as adequate food, physical health, education, safety etc. Objective wellbeing can be measured individually e.g., asking people whether they have a specific health condition, or through more objective measures such as mortality rates and life expectancy.

Wider (social) determinants of health are a diverse range of factors which impact our health.

Creating a healthy population requires action on the political, social, economic, environmental, and cultural factors which shape the conditions in which we are born, grow, live, work and age.

  • These can have a significant impact on wellbeing, life expectancy and inequalities in our communities.
  • They determine whether individuals have the physical, social, and personal resources to identify and achieve goals, meet their needs and deal with changes to their circumstances. (Source: Public Health England- see herefor more information).
  • To find out more about these wider determinants of health, see here.

Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) is a term used to describe policies and programmes that promote the representation and participation of diverse groups of individuals, including people of different ages, races and ethnicities, abilities and disabilities, genders, religions, cultures, and sexual orientations. It is explained in more detail on YouTube, here.

Guidance on Wider Health Determinants

a.       Increasing Physical activity

Somerset Activity and Sports Partnership (SASP) is dedicated to increasing the health and happiness of residents in Somerset through physical activity and sport. It does this by

  • Providing accessible opportunities locally for all ages and abilities.
  • Supporting clubs, communities, schools and the workforce to embrace physical activity.
  • Bringing together organisations and partners to plan and create a better environment for change.

SASP has launched its Somerset Moves Physical Activity strategy. For more details including the event booking portal and health and wellbeing support resources see SASP’s website here 

What can your council do?

There are lots of opportunities for local councils and local community networks to improve health & wellbeing by helping to set up and promote physical activities. The following examples have proved tremendously popular in helping to create healthier and happier communities, and all can attract grant aid to cover costs:

Park Yoga operates free of charge on Sunday mornings in parks across the UK during the summer months. Currently, Vivary Park in Taunton and Collet Park in Shepton Mallet operate very successfully with between 70 and more than 200 people attending.  Park Yoga costs around £70 per week to hire a yoga instructor for the summer months (May to the end of Sept). 

Park Run operates every Saturday morning free of charge. A start-up fee is payable up front at around £3,000 per park run. A good number have been established in Somerset but there are always room for more. SASP is willing to liaise with running clubs where an LCN area may feel this is something they would wish to explore.

Health Walks are volunteer led by LCN identified walk leaders. SASP provides free training and advertising. All walks are free of charge to participants and can operate weekly, fortnightly, or monthly throughout the year. 

b.      Food and nutrition

Helping our communities to have access to enough nutritious food is important to support their health. Here are some organisations that are active in Somerset.

  • Somerset Council Family Food support site has links and advice to support families and children to access food and other support needs.
  • Community Council for Somerset (CCS) lists a range of foodbank, community pantry, and grant schemes supporting food resilience here and another help with food page here 
  • The Health Foundation provides recommendations for what councils can do to tackle food insecurity in their communities. Read the NALC blog, Food insecurity: what can councils do? 

c.       Social connection and families

Here you will find links to organisations that local councils can contact to support Somerset residents to reduce loneliness and to support families, carers and young people.

d.      Finances

As we recover from the Covid-19 pandemic and with current cost-of-living pressures, it’s more important than ever that we get support for money worries. Here, you will find links to organisations that local councils can contact to support Somerset residents with money matters.

Somerset focused funding and advice programmes:

National Advice services:

  • The Money and Pensions service (MaPS) is a government-backed service with tailored information and advice on financial issues relating to the South-West. Cutting through the jargon and complexity, it is designed to put individuals in control of their finances with impartial guidance and signposting. For clear money help that’s free to use, go to the MoneyHelper website: or call the freephone number: 0800 138 7777.
  • The Money and Mental Health Policy Institute founded by Martin Lewis, is a useful source of information and resources.
  • The Money Charity empowers people across the UK to develop the skills, knowledge, attitudes, and behaviours to make the most of their money throughout their lives. It provides education, information, and advice to people of all ages to help them get to grips with their money and increase their financial wellbeing.
  • The government’s grant finding service allows you to search and filter government grant funding opportunities to match your council or community’s needs, as well as providing information on eligibility and instructions on how to apply.

e.      Access to health and community services

Somerset has a new Integrated Care Board overseeing health and care services in the county. It works in partnership with Somerset Council to manage adult social care, children’s social care, and public health services. The ICB and partnership group have joined together with the Somerset Health and Wellbeing Board to combine meetings with a common agenda. Details on the Somerset Council website, here

  • NHS Somerset is the public name of NHS Somerset Integrated Care Board (ICB) and is responsible for implementing a health and care strategy developed by the Integrated Care Partnership (ICP). Key strategies include:
    • Improving Lives’ is the Somerset county strategy, informed by the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA) and owned by the Health and Wellbeing Board. It sets out how the Council will work to deliver improvements for Somerset residents.
    • The Fit for my future strategy will form the basis of the Somerset Health and Care strategy, summarising plans to improve the health and wellbeing of the people of Somerset. It will set out how the Somerset ICS will deliver the fourth element of Improving Lives strategy and will guide future system planning and prioritisation.
  • Somerset Council Social care and Public Health website can be found here.
  • For issues relating to Health services Healthwatch Somerset are the County’s independent health and care champion. A short video of what they do is available here 
  • Somerset Council’s winter readiness briefing slides from November 2023 are  available for download from its Healthy Somerset website

f.        Transport

Transport and travel in Somerset’s communities is key to keeping us connected to work, education, and community services, as well as supporting businesses and leisure activities.

Here are some organisations and sites that can help local councils deal with supporting their communities with travel issues:

  • Think Travel offers journey planning and travel updates for Somerset and links to Travel Somerset where you can report road issues, enquire about bus passes, community and school transport.
  • Somerset Bus Partnership is campaigning for better bus services in Somerset. It is creating a network of community bus champions and user groups across the county and supporting councils to create bespoke bus schedules for towns and villages to encourage more bus use.

g.       Access to employment, education and training.

Research has shown that young people who have contact with employers whilst at school are significantly less likely to become NEET – not in education, employment or training – and can expect to earn more money once they are in full-time employment.

Here are some organisations that councils can use to support Somerset residents with information and advice on accessing education at all ages, as well as training and employment opportunities.

  • Somerset County Council Education and Families website has information on schools, childcare, fostering and adoption and SEND information
  • Somerset Skills and Learning provide a range of training and development opportunities and work with organisations across Somerset to support and develop new learning resources in the community.
  • Somerset Recovery College is hosted by Somerset NHS Foundation Trust for the wellbeing of people in Somerset. Courses are provided free of charge and for people with lived experience of mental health difficulties, their family and friends, and the professionals who support them.
  • South-West Heritage Trust provides educational access and an archive of Somerset history, including town and parish records.
  • Somerset Education Business Partnership connects employers with education providers so that young people are aware of local career opportunities and develop the skills needed to thrive at work. It offer access to the Somerset Works programme for 15-18 year olds not engaging with learning or training.
  • South Somerset has an Opportunities hub with advice, guidance, and training to support employment.

h.      Environment

Somerset councils have declared a climate emergency, and here are some links for local councils to work with their communities to support this.

Global climate change facts and evidence from NASA

Climate Resilient Somerset is a site from Somerset Council listing resources and guidance available to reduce environmental impact for Somerset residents and businesses.

Somerset Wildlife Trust (SWT) Protecting Nature and connecting communities to wildlife and offers lots of opportunities and support to get involved with green spaces in your community.

Wetlands and Wildfowl Trust- WWT ‘Blue recovery’ on how to use wetlands as a wellbeing support tool.

Centre for Sustainable Energy (CSE) gives advice on a range of energy saving topics and has a team of advisors working with councils and residents across the county to provide energy saving equipment and funding support.

Friends of the Earth has set out a helpful list of 20 actions parish and town councils can take on the climate and nature emergency and NALC in 2020 produced a list of statutory powers that apply to issues of climate and nature.

South Somerset District Council developed a Community Biodiversity Toolkit to help communities to take the lead in defining and restoring biodiversity in their area. The toolkit is accompanied by 3 appendices:

  1. Planning and Enforcement
  2. Developing your Plans
  3. Delivery and Practical Tips

Cornwall Council has developed a generic environmental policy template tool for town & parish Councils to develop environmental policy(ies).

The Environment Act 2021 requires parish and town councils to consider what they can do to conserve and enhance biodiversity. The government has issued guidance on complying with the duty and asks councils to agree policies and objectives as soon as possible, with completion of their first consideration of what action to take for biodiversity by 1 January 2024.

Andrew Maliphant of The Community Works has written guidance and a template biodiversity policy for use by local councils.

A guidance paper on land (green) and water-based (blue) natural landscapes, why they are good for us and what local councils can do to increase access to them.

i.         Housing

Somerset County Council Housing website hosts a range of information, guidance and additional links to organisations supporting access to safe and secure housing in the county, including the Homefinder Somerset  partnership of council and housing associations working together to make the process of finding a home easier.

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