Community-centred public health: taking a whole system approach

To reduce widening and persistent health inequalities, a radical shift is needed to put communities at the heart of public health. Building healthy, resilient, connected and empowered communities is an important way of improving the health of the population.

Existing guidance outlines why communities are important to health and the role of community-centred approaches in tackling health inequalities. New research by the Healthy Communities Team has examined how these kinds of approaches, and the principles underpinning them, might best be scaled up across local systems. This research looks at some of the key elements, core values and principles that are important for local authorities looking to make this shift to whole system working in relation to community-centred approaches.

Figure 1: Eleven elements of community-centred public health: a whole system approach


A briefing summarising the findings of this research can be found here, and a set of slides that do the same are available below. We have also collected a range of whole system practice examples relating to community-centred approaches, which can be found here. Further to this and as part of continuing work to test the research findings in practice, we have collaborated with the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) to collate some case studies that showcase the role of volunteering in whole system approaches, and these can be found here. Lastly, a series of alternative frameworks for considering community-centred approaches at system level are available here.


WSA Slide-Deck Gateway Version-Final

To download a copy of these slides, click here.

This work is part of the recently published ‘Place-Based Approaches to Reducing Health Inequalities’, which requires action at community, civic and service levels. It will also support those local places developing whole system approaches to address specific public health issues, such as obesity.

For more info on the work of the Healthy Communities team, please contact or join our Knowledge Hub group here.

Return to Practice Examples homepage.

Return to community-centred and asset-based approaches homepage.

Last Updated on 30th September 2021 by rgledhill

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