Part of the work of Public Health England do in Yorkshire and Humber is to support the Y&H ADPH Network on their Sector Led Improvement workstream. My role in this as the healthy Weight and Physical Activity lead is to support the Healthy Weight and Physical Activity Community of Improvement (HW&PA CoI) identify and deliver projects and pieces of work that can be scaled up across the region. One of these projects during the last 12 months has been to develop policies to address the public space advertising of food and drinks high in fat, salt and sugar, more commonly known as HFSS, across the Y&H region. The links between advertising and unhealthy food environments are understood and accepted, this work forms part of a wider workstream the HW&PA CoI are doing on the food and environment agenda.
Funding was granted by the Y&H ADPH Network to commission Sustain to deliver workshops and individual support to local authorities to help develop their understanding of this work. However, this did not include the evaluation of the processes that they were undertaking as a collective group of authorities and learning from each other during this project. PaRC were instrumental in highlighting the opportunities to the HW&PA CoI which led to our securing funding to address this very important part of the learning from the project.
The Public Health Intervention Responsive Studies Teams (PHIRST) are NIHR funded teams established to support public health interventions with expert knowledge and skills in evaluation. We know that public health practice in local government is sometimes distant from academic public health research. Local government does not have a culture of undertaking research, moves fast, and often does not have routes into research funding. This was where we found the support from the PaRC team invaluable. Not only did they alert us to the funding opportunity, but they also reviewed the first draft of the application form to be selected as one of the 4 public health intervention projects to be studied by PHIRST.
This resulted in the HW&PA CoI HFSS Advertising Restrictions project being successful and we were matched with an evaluation team from London South Bank University. This multi-disciplinary team have led co-production workshops with the 15 Y&H local authorities working on the project. The evaluation has commenced and is due to be completed by April next year. We hope that this innovative project will provide us with some valuable learning about the power of cross boundary collaboration and the role of advocacy in public health projects.
Nicola Corrigan, Healthy Places & Sustainable Communities Programme Lead, PHE Y&H