Vision for Leeds: Changing city inequality

DIRECTOR: Dr Ian Cameron, director of public health for Leeds.

DIRECTOR: Dr Ian Cameron, director of public health for Leeds.

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Leeds’s 2030 Vision could be just what the doctor ordered. Municipal reporter David Marsh reports on the dream of creating a healthier city where people live longer.

ONE of America’s founding fathers, Thomas Jefferson, may have declared “all men are created equal” but it seems that when it comes to health, some are more equal than others.

Residents in Leeds’s more prosperous neighbourhoods can expect to live ten years longer, on average, than people in the city’s most disadvantaged communities.

As part of the vision to be the best city in the UK by 2030, health is identified as one of five central themes.

The blueprint says that Leeds will be a place where:

l People live longer and have healthier lives;

l They are supported by quality services to live active and independent lives;

l Heath inequalities are reduced.

The challenges include reducing alcohol consumption – it is estimated 155,000 people in Leeds breach the “safe drinking” guidelines – and tackling obesity – one in five men and one in four women are obese.

The theme of health and well-being was the focus of a Vision for Leeds community launch event at Armley Helping Hands.

Coun Keith Wakefield, council leader, welcomed guests to the event, and Coun Lucinda Yeadon, executive member for adult health in the city, gave an overview of the vision.

She said: “Our aspiration is for Leeds to be the best city in the UK. To achieve this we need to address any inequalities that exist, and make sure that everyone has access to the same opportunities in order for them to enjoy good health and well-being.

“The vision is ambitious, and it will be a challenge to deliver in the context of the recent, significant cuts to public sector funding.

“Therefore, partnership working with businesses and organisations, and with local communities, will be vital in order to achieve the very best for the people of Leeds.”

Dr Ian Cameron, joint director of public health for NHS Leeds and Leeds City Council, said: “There are many social, economic and environmental factors that affect people’s health in Leeds, resulting in some people having poorer health than others.

“The Vision for Leeds presents a real opportunity to address health inequalities in our most deprived communities, and set out plans and strategies to help us become the best city for health and well-being in the country.

“Our health and social care services must continue to work together to help people stay active and independent for as long as possible, and make sure that appropriate care is available to everyone when it is needed.”

Armley Helping Hands is one of the city’s 32 neighbourhood networks which provide support and activities to around 25,000 older people. The council and NHS have pledged investment of over £1.7m a year for five years in the networks. Details of the Vision for Leeds can be viewed at: www.leedsbestcity.org.uk

Children, residents and Leeds City Council staff gathered for the Big Spring Clean in Harehills. Pictures: Steve Riding

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