09 Apr 2019 The Healthy Weight Declaration – Sharing the Learning: Leeds City Council
In this article, we hear from Deb Lowe from Leeds City Council to find out some of the key learning and experiences that led to the official adoption of the Local Government Declaration in 2019, as part of the advocacy project for the Healthy Weight and Physical Activity Community of Improvement, commissioned by Yorkshire and Humber Association for the Directors of Public Health.
Deb Lowe is an advanced health improvement specialist at Leeds City Council with a focus on child healthy weight and working with families. She provides strategic overview, developing long term plans, health programmes and actions plans. She oversees the commissioning of the child and family healthy weight programmes developing service specifications and performance managing services. Deb has worked in public health for over 20 years in a variety of roles across, Lancashire, Cheshire, Merseyside and for the last 3 years in Leeds.
The timing of when to adopt the Healthy Weight Declaration (HWD) is definitely key. I had mooted it 12 months earlier with very little interest and the idea was very quickly put aside, however, a year later a few things had changed, locally we were revising our child healthy weight plan, there were lots of talk around a whole system approach and a greater interest at senior management level.
I spoke to my public health colleagues and everyone felt it was the right thing to go ahead with and this was agreed and supported by our Director of Public Health. Our next step was to gain the support of our Councillor for Health Champion and one of the key actions we did was to map the 14 commitments to how we were doing as well as start to look at potential local priorities. The mapping of commitments was a key part of the briefing highlighting the work already happening against the required commitments and this helped gain the approval of the Executive Members for Health to take forward the adoption of the HWD. We spent the next six months promoting the HWD to colleagues and Councillors through meetings, networks and numerous newsletter articles leading to a consultation event that was aimed at Councillors and Chief Officers. Blackpool Council were extremely helpful with Lynn Donkin and Councillor Graham Cain presenting at this event and showcasing their journey and achievements of the HWD. It was important to have Councillor Cain to provide a Councillor insight and help gain the support from our Councillors, he was an excellent speaker, passionate about the HWD and it helped us engage better with our Councillors.
We set up a small group to progress with implementing the HWD and to focus on our local priorities. We linked Public Health staff with each one of the six priority leads to support them taking the priorities forward. We carefully chose our priorities based on ensuring they covered different ages, were at different stages of implementation and whether we had a good working relationship or contact with that area.
We also carried out an on-line consultation with staff to help raise the profile of HWD but also to find out staff thoughts about the commitments and the six priorities. This proved very valuable as it helped establish who else was contributing to the commitments, the support staff had for the HWD and provided examples on how they were supporting it.
In September 2018, our Executive Board approved the adoption of the HWD and we launched this at a briefing event in February 2019. Next we intend to finalise our actions for each of our six priorities over the next 12 months, develop a communication plan, and continue to identify work against the 14 commitments and link with key partners to encourage partner pledges.