In December 2020, ally of the Centre Sir Michael Marmot produced a widely shared report that conclusively stated that Britain’s inequalities in health, and in the social conditions that lead to ill health, have been revealed and amplified by the pandemic and the response to it.

“Now, with vaccines coming onstream, there is talk of the country getting back to ‘normal”. But the ‘normal’ that existed in February 2020 is not acceptable” states Sir Michael. “The Covid-19 pandemic must be taken as an opportunity to build a fairer society”.  We couldn’t agree more.

From the work we do, day-in, day-out in Tower Hamlets, we know the majority of factors affecting mental and physical ill health are social and economic – people need friends and a feeling of belonging, a sense of purpose, financial security, a safe home and hope for their future.  With these things in place, the effects of the pandemic can be mitigated; without these, people are extremely vulnerable.

Sir Michael indicates that problems are societal, political, interrelated and complex and we know from experience that a community-based approach makes a tangible difference, on the ground.  Whether people come to the Centre for healthcare appointments, food bank visits or crisis situations, we take the time to get to know them. We provide a non-judmental space and support people to access information, practical support and to fulfil their potential.  They often go on to help others.

We support Sir Michael’s findings. The Bromley by Bow Centre offers a living, breathing example of one way to start to build back after Covid, a community approach that helps transform the quality of people’s lives.

It is our mission to share our community blueprint further in 2021 so more UK communities can use our learning and experience to develop their own joined-up approaches to building healthier communities. To quote Sir Michael ‘It is in all our interests to build back fairer.’

For more information please contact our Insights Team

You can read more about the report here Institute of Health Equity – Build Back Fairer

Michael Marmot is professor of epidemiology at University College London, director of the UCL Institute of Health Equity and past president of the World Medical Association .