New UKPRP research funding: how urban greenspaces can contribute to tackling health inequalities

A team from ECEHH are part of a new £7.1m consortium funded by the UK Prevention Research Partnership (UKPRP) to investigate the impact that nature can have in helping to prevent and reduce health inequalities in urban areas.

Photo by Charles Parker from Pexels

The project will be led by Dr Ruth Hunter Queen’s University Belfast, Professor Ruth Jepson University of Edinburgh and Professor Sarah Rodgers University of Liverpool and also involves Glasgow, Cranfield, Lancaster Universities. The Consortium, GroundsWell: Community-engaged and Data-informed Systems Transformation of Urban Green and Blue Space for Population Health will explore how increasing availability and usage of nature can reduce health inequalities, primarily around chronic and non-infectious diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer and mental health.

Over the five-year project, the interdisciplinary team will aim to develop innovative approaches to work with communities where there are high levels of health inequalities. We will work with communities as key partners to develop and implement ways to improve health inequalities and prevent a range of chronic illnesses through harnessing the positive impact of nature. 

UKPRP supports multidisciplinary teams looking at ways to prevent non-communicable diseases such as heart disease, poor mental health, obesity, cancer and diabetes. Non-communicable diseases make up the majority of illnesses in the UK and account for an estimated 89 per cent of all deaths. 

Professor Kevin Fenton, London Regional Director for Public Health England and Chair of the UKPRP Scientific Advisory Board, said: “UKPRP is an important and timely programme that we need to address health inequalities and prevent the onset of non-communicable disease. The projects funded under this programme are pushing the boundaries of prevention research by taking multidisciplinary approaches to addressing the complexities of population health, with the aim of improving people’s lives and health. As we look to build back fairer from the pandemic, the creation of healthy communities and places is a key priority.”

The project will use a range of approaches to ensure that communities, including residents, businesses and organisations, are fully represented. The Consortium will comprise of active, equal and embedded members and partners at all stages of decision making and will involve co-designing solutions that will benefit communities.We at

ECEHH will mainly focus on working with policy and practice at all scales (e.g. national to local) to address how greenspace decisions are made, and if, and how health impacts are prioritised in those processes. We will explore the various motivations and drivers, and conceptions of responsibility, agency and accountability held by key stakeholders in decision making. We will also explore how to meaningfully involve communities in decision making aiming to develop approaches that support participation in greenspace decision-making in ways that are meaningful to, and driven by, more marginalised community members and which acknowledge problematic histories of UGBS neglect or exclusion.

The ECEHH team includes Emmy-Lou Rahtz, Sarah Bell, Conny Guell, Ben Wheeler, Lewis Elliott, Tim Taylor and Becca Lovell.

More information can be found on the new project website https://blogs.ed.ac.uk/groundswell/ or contact Becca

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