Now that the dust has settled following the publication of ‘Every Child a Healthy Weight’ I’ve taken a moment to reflect on how far London’s Child Obesity Taskforce has come and the partnerships we have been fortunate enough to start building. As we move with renewed energy into 2020, we want to deepen these relationships and forge new ones; helping to bring our ambitions to life and become real for London’s children.
With this in mind, in January Corinna and I were excited to attend the London Health Board, a meeting chaired by the Mayor. Presenting the Taskforce recommendations to the board was a huge opportunity for us to engage with senior leaders from across the health and care system in London. The Mayor shared with members how pleased he is with the report and that its recommendations were incredibly motivating and it was humbling to hear positive reactions from other board members – including London Borough Council leaders, senior City Hall advisors and PHE and NHS London Senior Management – who gave examples of how their organisations could respond and contribute.
The Mayor’s Health Advisor, Dr Tom Coffey, urged all Board members to implement the Taskforce’s recommendations as an integral part of delivering the London Health and Care Vision. This Vision commitment has united core partners across London with a shared ambition to make London the world’s healthiest global city, and the best global city in which to receive health and care services. As part of achieving this bold ambition, action on child obesity has already been highlighted as a priory area for pan- London action – action and commitment we obviously very much welcome.
We were also pleased to join a pan-London Councils meeting of the Chairs of the Health and Wellbeing Boards on Friday 10th Jan. This board brings together London Borough Councils’ health leaders and the NHS to discuss how they improve health in their local area. Here we again shared Taskforce recommendations, asking boroughs to adopt them in their own work and local areas. I can’t overstate how much we value the opportunity to engage with boroughs’ leadership and how important these relationships are if we wish to deliver positive change to children’s health. As ever, we’ve seen that success is best achieved through sharing perspectives, listening and collaborating on action.
Our Taskforce has also begun wider conversations with London’s boroughs, including a successful meeting last week with Brent Council. We met with their Director of Public Health and Lead Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing. It was really inspiring to hear about the depth of the work Brent are doing with schools, on planning and the research they’ve commissioned to look at the challenges stopping children doing physical activity. We also heard about work numerous fast food outlets have been doing across the borough to provide healthier options, and how the borough have adapted their NCMP letter to make it a ‘call to action’. Both specific focuses in our ‘Every Child a Healthy Weight’ call to action. All together, some really exciting initiatives from which we are sure we will learn a great deal.
This collaborative working has meant that we begin 2020 feeling empowered and supported in our work. Child Obesity is not ‘somebody’s problem’, its ‘everyone’s business’ and we must work together across all areas of the system to have sustainable, meaningful and successful impact.
With this in mind I wanted to share an opportunity coming up in September to work collaboratively at an international scale. On 10th and 11th September, London’s Child Obesity Taskforce, alongside Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity and the City of Amsterdam, will be hosting the first Cities Summit on Childhood Obesity. I am thrilled that London, our city, will be the setting for this gathering of City leaders fighting child obesity from right across the world. It will be a Summit for sharing child healthy weight initiatives, experiences and learning and supporting others in developing solutions through that vital ingredient – collaboration. If you are interested in finding out more, or signing up to join us, please do – visit our website.