From a professional (public health) standpoint, the question of what evidence exists to support the belief that these ideas and activities would positively affect health has never been far from the surface. In this regard, there has been a fairly large track record in forum activities, including needs assessment work. While far from providing strong evidence of the links between health inputs, processes and outcomes, it provided insight into priority health issues and how the community and statutory sectors were trying to address them by working together.
The NGCHF is closely involved in the Liverpool Healthy Cities project, more specifically as part of the Croxteth Sanitary Action Area in North Liverpool.11 In recent years, there have been several needs assessment studies, 12 13 and a history of partnership building with various professional groups in the city. However, in general, this “outside” influence facilitated rather than directed action by local residents. The problems they identified stemmed mainly from their extensive knowledge of the community and what they felt so strongly was necessary for improving it and for the health of those who lived there. A key element of the Forum’s plan was the development of a multipurpose center on the site of a disused high school, including health, housing, education and training facilities and services to promote trust, skills, social support and health. Other initiatives included environmental improvements, a credit union and youth activities. Here is illustrated one of the most innovative projects supported and led by the Forum: the Supported Independent Living Project (SILP). This is to ensure that local people with learning difficulties can continue to live in the community when family members who cared for them can no longer do so. Building local resources and opportunities through training and personal development, services and infrastructure are among the main guiding principles of the Forum.