Community Insights

The Health Equality Partnership is an initiative supported Community Action Network that has been gathering insights and data through a health research and engagement program.

This exciting project started in June 2021 and is commissioned by Public Health Dorset and NHS Dorset, and has enabled us to gather community insights and identify any areas of hidden inequality that people from diverse communities, with enduring mental ill health or with learning disabilities face across Dorset.

We are working in partnership with Dorset Community Action and Dorset Race Equality Council on this initiative to understand more fully the views of those with enduring mental ill health, learning disabilities and individuals from diverse communities using health services, the challenges they face, and their overall experiences. These individuals often fare poorly in terms of general health and life expectancy when compared to the rest of the population.

We are working with a wide range of VCS organisations from across the sector and by working together we:

  • providing a gateway to participants who are not normally approached to take part in these type of engagement projects.
  • able to have an increased understanding of health inequalities across Dorset and the barriers that exist for them to access mainstream health services.
  • able to develop realistic approaches, recommendations and solutions to tackle them.

Our initial research sought to increase understanding of local health inequalities and public awareness of health inequality, to empower vulnerable people to shape and improve the health system, to clarify the link between social determinants and uptake of preventative health measures, to generate reliable, valid and objective data to support future research and assess progress with reducing the healthy life expectancy gap for mental health, learning disabilities and ethnic minorities in Dorset.

You can read more about the research, its finding and recommendations in the project report:

Since April 2022 we have been working together on addressing the recommendations from the report.

Alongside Dorset Community Action we worked with NHS Dorset and their SMI Physical Health Check Project to identify the following:

  • what training is currently offered to professionals focussing on SMI and whether there is an opportunity to develop bespoke sessions co-designed in partnership with those with lived experience
  • the peer support offer that is available and how these could be linked into supporting people to “wait well”
  • whether there are any VCS groups providing buddies or advocacy to support people who might be reluctant to attend health checks or need additional support to attend their health check.
  • people’s experiences and how they felt about their health check experience, both positive and negative to enable us to inform service development and training of staff.

This has now evolved into the SMI – Physical Health Check Project.

We are now onto the second phase of the Health Inequality Project working with Dorset Community Action and Dorset Race Equality Council to:

  • identify what training is currently offered to professionals focussing on individuals with learning disabilities and whether there is an opportunity to develop bespoke sessions co-designed in partnership with those with lived experience.
  • film and speak to individuals affected by unconscious bias and discrimination to form a resource demonstrating the impact bias and discrimination can have on people (you can take a sneak peak at the short videos already completed at Health Equality Partnership – Unconscious Bias).
  • co-create with colleagues from across health services to develop an easy to access 24/7 unconscious bias training for health professionals.

We would like to hear from organisations who would like to be involved in the project. Please email our project officer, Andy Robertson on

Our work is possible thanks to funding from our partners, Public Health Dorset and NHS Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG)

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