NHS Health Scotland’s report on community cohesion and good relations made recommendations: to mainstream and sustain community cohesion and good relations work into NHS Scotland; and to include appropriate mechanisms for reporting progress and monitoring its impact. However the EHRC have found that there are still significant differences in the levels of understanding and confidence that public authorities have around the concept of good relations. This research concluded that there was often a sense that good relations work was undertaken in an attempt to ‘fix’ known problems than as a proactive way to promote a more inclusive and harmonious environment (EHRC 2012. p22).
In 2012, the EHRC produced key findings from four case studies (external link) with public authorities to demonstrate practice in the area of good relations:
- Respect 4 All – a local multi-agency approach to good relations in secondary education delivered using an expressive arts approach through two schools in Aberdeenshire.
- The public sector response to a flashpoint in tensions between Gypsy/Travellers and the settled community in the North East in 2010.
- The work of the Greater Glasgow and Clyde Anti-Stigma Partnership in tackling the stigma of mental health, focusing on the path-finding Mosaics of Meaning project, which supported the largest settled ethnic minority communities in Scotland.
- Aspects of good relations in the Scottish Prison Service: the strategic change in national objectives and illustrations of activities on the ground to fulfil the service-wide objective.
The case study reviewing the work of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde’s anti-stigma partnership focused on the path-finding Mosaics of Meaning Project, which supported the largest settled ethnic minority communities in Scotland (Pakistani, Chinese, African and Caribbean) to address mental health stigma through a participatory research and action approach. Mosaics developed an intervention model which has since been successfully adopted to address mental health stigma in other groups. The case studies highlight the need for public authorities to consider the advantages that effective good relations work offers to whole populations not simply to certain ‘minority’ groups along with the social costs (both financial and human) of getting it wrong.
Asset-based approaches (external link) to health and wellbeing which are closely aligned to the principles of good relations recognise and build on a combination of the human, social and physical capital that exists within local communities. Asset based approaches are recognised as an integral part of community development work –they are concerned with bringing people and communities together to achieve positive change using their own knowledge, skills and lived experience around the issues they encounter in their own lives. Asset based approaches respect that sustained positive health and social outcomes will only occur when people and communities have the opportunities and facility to control and manage their own futures. And they offer a set of concepts for identifying and enhancing the protective factors which help individuals and communities maintain and enhance their health even when faced with adverse life circumstances (Mclean, J. p2).
NHS Health Scotland has produced a briefing paper which explains asset-based approaches and that it has the potential to address Scotland’s continuing health problems in innovative ways which could complement more traditional methods for improving population health.
Assets in Action (external link), produced by the Glasgow Centre for Population Health, illustrates asset based approaches for health improvement in action by producing a set of case studies based on projects, services or initiatives that have taken such an approach. For example, it includes a case study on Older People for Older People (O40) which was a research and development project working with older people in remote, rural and peripheral communities to explore how communities could support older individuals to maintain independent living.
The approaches to develop community assets are similar to those used to foster good community relations. There is a clear alignment between using the asset based approach to improve health and fostering good relations work in the community.