We focus on four complex health issues more prevalent in urban areas
With the Social Progress Imperative, we've developed the first neighbourhood level, health-focused social progress index of its kind.
With Wellcome Trust
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The inner-city London boroughs of Lambeth and Southwark are our home. They are central London boroughs south of the Thames, just two miles from the City of London.
The two areas are densely populated – twice the average in London – and on a par with Cairo or New Delhi. They have a rich and complex social and ethnic mix, including large Black and LGBT+ communities. We see a large amount of population churn and the boroughs currently have a population of around 600,000. This makes them roughly the same size as Athens, Stuttgart, or Boston.
They are both examples of urban, inner-city areas similar to many others around the world both for their vibrancy and diversity – but also their stark health inequalities. And, like many other cities, affluence and poverty live side-by-side.
Here, we are committed to both understanding and changing how inequalities impact our health. The lessons we learn here can be applied to other cities around the world.
We’ve seen big improvements in health outcomes in our place over the last 50 years. Life expectancy has increased, while child mortality and teenage pregnancy have declined.
But despite positive changes, some local people are worse off. One in four people in Lambeth live in poverty, while over a third in Southwark live in areas with the highest levels of deprivation in England. These inequalities contribute to extreme health outcomes. London is home to some of the best and worst health in the UK. Our boroughs in particular experience high rates of severe mental health issues, childhood obesity, sexually transmitted infections, and deaths from coronary heart disease.
These issues disproportionately impact the communities within our place. We work to understand the root causes of these complex issues so we can know how our place, and cities around the world, can be shaped to support better health.
Working in a defined place allows us to get under the surface of the problem. With a defined geographic focus, we can truly understand the social and economic factors that create health inequalities. With a granular lens we seek to understand the deep causes of these inequalities and explore different ways of addressing them through combining the best sources of data, robust evidence, lived experience and practical interventions
By focusing our work in this way, we can test new ways of tackling these issues with a diverse range of partners at every level of the system. We layer these interventions to create the systems change required to remove obstacles to good health and reduce health inequalities. The impact of these interventions and partnerships reaches far beyond our boroughs in London.
Where we work is like so many other places around the world. Using data from the UN-Habitat’s City Prosperity Initiative alongside diversity data, we’ve started identifying cities that have similar characteristics to London and our boroughs.
New York, Paris, Melbourne, Sao Paulo, Shanghai and Mexico all hold similarities to London, while Glasgow, Detroit and Birmingham hold similarities specific to Lambeth and Southwark.
This commonality provides opportunities. We share our rich thinking and practical learning to improve health in cities around the world. Working together, we can better understand how people in other cities, from governments to community organisations, are addressing inequalities and the health impact of living in urban environments.
We’re excited to do something different. To create lasting health equity and improve the health of not only the people in London but the billions of people living in urban areas around the world.
We work with local, city, national and international organisations to help urban areas become healthier places to live.
By 2050, nearly 70% of the world’s population will live in cities. We explore what distinct health challenges and opportunities urban areas have.
Our focus on complex health issues that disproportionately impact people living in cities.