Renaisi was commissioned by Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity to find out what residents of Southwark and Lambeth think about health challenges and issues in their area. The insight from this research was used to help the charity improve health and wellbeing in the two areas.

Renaisi has worked in and with communities in London for more than 20 years and was able to draw upon participants in our employment programmes to take part in the research.

The research project and methodologies

The community insight work took place over a period of two months and was designed to reach a broad range of residents in Lambeth and Southwark as quickly as possible.

Residents were asked to reflect on which health issues they felt were most or least important to them, as well as providing insight on barriers in the local area that can prevent progress on improving health outcomes, and their ideas and solutions for the future.

We were able to draw on our experience of place-based consultancy and community inclusion programme delivery to design our approach to community insight. Working in partnership with local groups and organisations, we delivered a range of engagement activities in both boroughs that reached a wide range of people quickly. This involved:

  • Face to face surveying – participants at community events talked to a Renaisi researcher
  • Self-complete surveys – online and at community events
  • Workshops working with local community organisations to explore issues in a group setting
  • Telephone and group interviews with local health stakeholders

We also partnered with Close Up Research to produce a video of residents discussing their health priorities. Our summary report and video were presented to the Charity’s Board of Trustees as part of a range of information and research that helped them decide where to focus funding in the future.

What we learnt while researching community health priorities

Having a limited amount of time with participants and recognising that discussing health priorities might be challenging and deeply personal for some of them, we framed the research questions in a way that enabled residents to feel comfortable sharing their views. Renaisi researchers asked open questions to allow people to explore health issues and challenges from their perspectives, whether that was ‘on the spot’ at an event, or in a workshop where there was time to have a more in-depth and open discussion

The insight from over 260 residents helped the charity understand where there was consensus on some health issues, and where others divided opinion. There was a strong emphasis across the responses on the interconnected nature of health issues; residents wanted to see more preventative and holistic solutions, drawing on assets and expertise in the local area. Concerns were raised about increasing social isolation being a root cause of many other issues.

The community insight work helped to validate the charity’s approach to funding broader social issues, as well as ones that are more directly linked to health outcomes.

What’s next?

The research indicated that there is an interest among local residents in Lambeth and Southwark in the Charity’s work, and an appetite for more ongoing community conversations.

Since completing this project, Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity have drawn on Renaisi’s expertise in engaging with local residents, local employment providers and charities on another piece of research. The second project aimed to understand how to support people with long-term conditions to secure and sustain purposeful activity. This was part of the charity’s existing multiple long-term condition programme.