Healthy Living Centres face the sustainability challenge

HEALTHY Living Centres (HLCs) have been a central part of the Government’s agenda to tackle health and social inequality.

There have been 257 HLCs set up across England since 1999, funded by the Big Lottery Fund with grants worth £300 million over five years. As the grants come to an end, HLCs are now seeking to ensure their sustainability.

Accenture is working with the Big Lottery Fund and HLCs to support this agenda through a three-year development and support programme for HLCs, which includes supporting HLCs in deciding where their future lies.

The Southall Healthy Living Initiative is taking part in the programme and has received one-to-one support from Accenture after being chosen as one of five pathfinders. It is a virtual centre hosted by the local Ealing Primary Care Trust and provides health information and projects around five main areas: healthy heart issues; mental health; drugs and alcohol; women’s health; and access to primary care.

“We’ve had quite intensive support from Accenture to look at sustainability issues,” says Kalwant Sahota, Southall HLC’s project manager. “As a result of all the work and lobbying, our local PCT has agreed to fund us for an extra year, until March 2007.”

Indra Morris, a spokeswoman for Accenture, which also provides training workshops for HLCs and support in financial planning and marketing, says: “The question is . . . how can HLCs make the case to central government, to PCTs, that they are an effective way of delivering services? We don’t want to replace the cliff edge of funding ending with the cliff edge of consulting support ending.”