Altogether Better, hosted by South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (SWYFT), is proud to announce that its Director Alyson McGregor has been recognised within the Health Service Journal’s (HSJ) inaugural Inspirational Women list.
The list celebrates outstanding leaders or generous mentors who are driving change and innovation in service redesign or at the heart of influencing health policy. The list contains women from clinical or non-clinical backgrounds who stand out for their passion and ability to innovate and drive change.
Commenting on the fifty women that made the inaugural list, Alastair McLellan, Editor of HSJ said:
“It was not enough to be influential. The judges were clear that they were looking for people who live the values they espouse – the authentic leaders.”
Alyson’s leadership of Altogether Better has led to over 18,000 volunteer Community Health Champions working in their own communities to promote better health, wellbeing and self-care. They are encouraged to draw on their own passion to get people in the same situation and in their communities involved in healthy social activities, creating groups to meet local needs and signposting people to relevant support and services.
These groups have enabled people to support each other in a wide range of ways including walking, cooking, breastfeeding and living with chronic conditions, as well as signposting each other to locally available support and services. The experience of behaviour change is that it is far more likely to come about and to be sustained when it is promoted and supported by a peer, ‘someone like me’, than by an expert or professional – and this is borne out by the experience of the champions. As the champions succeed, they grow in confidence and magical things happen.
While Altogether Better’s approach has witnessed significant benefits to the health and wellbeing of communities, it has also seen Champions working with local health services to provide benefits for both GP practices and health services. For local services, champions provide a link into their community and much greater knowledge of the resources available in it. Champions work on issues that they feel passionate about and that are a priority for local services. Examples include supporting decision making, delivery of health improvement activities, improving access to services including promoting the uptake of flu immunisations and cervical smear tests. Through their involvement, a significant number of Champions have also gone onto to further training, as well as secure employment. Effectively engaging citizens as partners in delivering better outcomes offers the real opportunity to improve health and service outcomes.
Based on Altogether Better’s work, the judging panel concluded that:
“Community empowerment is going to be important in the new NHS world and Alyson is visionary”
Alyson’s nomination was widely supported by host organisation, SWFYT, her team members and Champions she’s supported. On her achievement, Alyson said:
“I am delighted to be on the list of the most inspirational women in healthcare because it recognises the value of working with citizens to drive transformational change within the NHS. Altogether Better believes that by unlocking the power of citizens and enabling them to work as peers with service providers and commissioners, we will be better placed to meet many of the challenges faced by the NHS and transform the delivery of health and wellbeing services.”
Alyson’s future work with Altogether Better includes developing a new two year national Big Lottery Funded project aimed at developing its approach further across Yorkshire and the Humber, the North East and the Midlands. This will involve recruiting local people to voluntarily work alongside health care practitioners to tackle health issues and increase involvement of patients and communities in shaping health and social care services.
The HSJ’s inaugural list of inspiring female leaders contains nominees from across the public and voluntary sector as well as academia.