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Your spotlight on local services

Healthwatch Barking and Dagenham supporting new project helping faith leaders run vital health-focused activities.


This month, the team from Healthwatch Barking and Dagenham joined a diverse group of faith leaders in Barking and Dagenham to help support an exciting new programme that will see faith groups getting involved in running vital health-focused projects for their communities.

The Faith Leaders Network is a network of leaders from different faith groups from across Barking and Dagenham, united by a desire to meet local needs through practical acts of service, and supported by local organisation FaithAction since its inception in January 2023. Prior to this programme, the Network has been involved in a project helping faith leaders to support their communities through the cost-of-living crisis.

Barking and Dagenham is both one of the most deprived boroughs in London and has one of the lowest life expectancies for its residents in the country. Cancer and cardiovascular disease are some of the biggest causes of early mortality, often being linked back to lifestyle choices including smoking and obesity for which the borough has some worst rates in the country. The borough is also one of the most diverse, which presents additional challenges in providing culturally appropriate care and navigating issues and concerns held by communities that often felt let down by the health system.

The programme, funded by the Public Health team at Barking and Dagenham Council, will allow faith leaders to run projects that will help their communities deal with some of these challenges. Faith groups will be able to design projects that tackle particular health inequalities present in their groups, while also providing messaging and signposting to other health initiatives. The faith leaders will also have access to health professionals, who will be able to provide advice, help run sessions particularly around health screening, and provide health messaging.

The faith leaders will also be able to access support from Healthwatch Barking and Dagenham, who will working closely with colleagues from FaithAction, and the faith leaders themselves. The Healthwatch team will be using their local knowledge and expertise to help connect faith leaders with health professionals and provide signposting to participants to other healthcare services. The team will also be attending sessions run as part of the programme, gathering views from participants on their experiences of social care, gathering feedback from parts of the community who may sometimes struggle to get their concerns heard.

To find out more about the Faith Leaders Network, please email andrew.welsby@faithaction.net.

To keep up to date with the valuable work being done by this partnership follow Faith Leaders Network on Facebook and X.


Healthwatch Barking and Dagenham
Lifeline House
25 Neville Road
Dagenham, Essex RM8 3QS