Communities, both place-based and people sharing a common identity or affinity, have a vital contribution to make to health and wellbeing. Community life, social connections, supportive relationships and having a voice in local decisions are all factors that underpin good health, however, inequalities persist and too many people experience the effects of social exclusion or lack social support. Participatory approaches directly address the marginalisation and powerlessness caused by entrenched health inequalities.

The assets within communities, such as the skills and knowledge, social networks, local groups and community organisations, are building blocks for good health. Many people in Kincardine & Mearns already contribute to community life through volunteering, community leadership and activism. Community empowerment occurs when people work together to shape the decisions that influence their lives and health and begin to create a more equitable society. This is not about a DIY approach to health; there are important roles for NHS, local government and their partners in creating safe and supportive places, fostering resilience and enabling individuals and communities to take more control of their health and lives.

It is a Partnership aim to reduce the inequalities in health outcomes between communities and across Kincardine & Mearns. Encouraging individuals to take responsibility for their own health and wellbeing by making healthy choices and taking preventative action will reduce the demand on reactive services and allow resources to be invested in prevention and early intervention actions.
Engagement highlighted the need for inclusive, accessible community spaces, somewhere people could go to offering safe spaces for interaction between people from different backgrounds and provide information about local services and learning opportunities. Community spaces could be physical or virtual; all-inclusive or serving a particular section of the community.
Community spaces need to be affordable, accessible and available within the heart of local communities, fit for purpose. Community spaces are used to provide information and signposting, they provide opportunities for people to develop new skills, provide safe places for people to come together to meet and interact informally and they also provide an environment that helps increase the confidence of community members.

Key Outcomes
1. Focus on inclusive community spaces and opportunities.
2. Reduce inequalities in all outcomes within and across communities in Kincardine & Mearns.
3. Ensure community spaces are affordable, accessible and fit for purpose.
4. Community spaces provide safe places for people to come together and interact informally, providing an environment that helps to increase individual and community confidence.