Health on the High StreetPublished: 14/12/2020
A report published by the NHS Confederation and Power to Change has highlighted Ashford’s One You shop as an example of how future NHS services could integrate into our high streets and town centres.
The report outlines the growing importance of health to the economic and social recovery of our cities, towns and villages and outlines how future government policy should evolve to support this agenda. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, it suggests now is an opportune time to consider how NHS services could be more effectively delivered in communities and, in particular, our town centres making these services more accessible and utilising vacant property to deliver them.
Jointly worked on by Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust (KCHFT), Ashford Borough Council and Kent County Council, Ashford’s One You shop has been recognised as one such successful project. Having opened in the Park Mall shopping centre in Ashford in 2017 the shop has seen between 400 to 500 visitors a month prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. KCHFT staff offer information, advice and specific lifestyle services such as smoke-free and healthy weight, as well as blood pressure checks and health MoTs.
Clinics are run on a sessional basis but people can drop in for advice and simple checks whenever the shop is open. Nearly a third of all people visiting the shop come from the six less affluent wards in Ashford.
The project was first started when obesity and smoking were identified as a priority by the Ashford Health and Wellbeing Board. The service was initially sited in a small empty shop in the town centre, but subsequently moved to larger premises as it increased in popularity.
John Goulston, Chair, Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust said: “The success of the One You shop is testament to the staff who work there and to the partnership working of health and the local authorities in Kent to help improve the health and wellbeing of the people who live in the Ashford area.
“It is also an example of how health and care play a role in helping to regenerate our high streets. This is becoming increasingly significant in responding to the challenges facing town centres as a result of the pandemic.”
Both the NHS Confederation and Power to Change believe that creating high streets and town centres that have a focus on health will have an impact on the economic, social and health values of the communities in which they are situated. As high streets tend to be at the centre of public transport networks, this can make a wide range of health and care services more accessible to people and, importantly, increase their engagement and effectiveness.
Cllr Peter Feacey, portfolio holder for Community, Safety and Wellbeing said: “We are immensely proud of the One You shop and all it has achieved since it first opened its doors.
“By working in partnership we have been able to impact the health and wellbeing of our borough’s residents, many of whom have taken the opportunity to pop in and access the information and advice so readily available.
“We look forward to seeing how our example may translate nationally as we continue to support our own health on the high street.”