People in a circle placing their hands on top of each other.

As we end January and its offers to improve our lives through quick-fix diets or fad abstinence events, it’s been a firm ‘no thank you’ from me. I’m all for making long-term improvements for many in a more positive way. Learning something new that improves personal and collective practice in public service, and helps make a difference to people’s outcomes, is definitely a new year call I can get behind.

At Public Health Scotland (PHS) we are committed to putting reducing inequalities at the heart of what we do. In Scotland, people die younger than in any other western European country, and those in our poorest areas thrive the least. Factors including the environments in which we live, unstable jobs and poor access to services affect people’s physical, mental and social health & wellbeing.

Change is possible, though, with action – and everyone who works in public service in Scotland has a role to play. With its scale and influence to be able to prevent and address some of the drivers of inequalities, the public service can improve outcomes for people and communities as part of a ‘whole system’ approach. Particularly through bringing colleagues together from across sectors in local areas to learn from each other and build working relationships. 

That’s why PHS is offering learning and practice improvement support to everyone who has a public facing role, to strengthen contributions to reducing inequalities and improving the health and wellbeing for people in Scotland

We are currently running a live online learning programme (2022-23). Each free session is delivered by individuals from different organisations and backgrounds, including those with lived experience, to bring a wealth of experience and insight. 

The programme has successfully delivered five sessions to date, including some re-runs due to popular demand. They have covered setting outcomes to tackle inequalities outcomes, how to measure the difference they make, and how to empower individuals and communities to exercise their rights.

In February PHS will collaborate with Voluntary Health Scotland (VHS) to deliver Engaging in effective community advocacy, which will help participants to increase their confidence in identifying and working in partnership with communities, and will generate ideas for strengthening community advocacy practice. (Please note registrations for this are now closed.)

For a session on Making services inclusive for everyone later in February, we’re partnering with Talking Mats and Capability Scotland to share actions and tools to improve communication practices, particularly for people with communication support needs.

In March we’re working with Frameworks UK to help change national conversations on obesity. Health First: Communicating about health and obesity in Scotland aims to help us to improve how we speak about obesity to reduce associated stigma, build understanding of what contributes to it, and drive action.

Also taking place in March is our final session, Employability and health – why does it matter? A panel discussion, it will bring together colleagues from national and local government, the NHS and other partnerships to share their expertise on the impact of exclusion from work on health, what we know works and how we can support more people to secure good work.

I hope you feel inspired to sign up to as many of our sessions as you’d like, as at PHS we’re confident they can help you improve your practice. But don’t just take my word for it – read below some of the positive testimonials we’ve had from participants so far.

Getting your inequalities outcomes right

Very slick, participation was good, pace was right.

This was an excellent session. It could have been an all-day event and I'd have been quite happy.

Stephen was great and it was really good to hear what other people are doing/the work they are involved in.

A clearer understanding of how to set good quality outcomes, the key principles involved in this, and ideas for evaluating them.

Demonstrate your impact on inequalities

I feel more confident in using evaluation approaches to supporting my partner organisations.

Really enjoyed both of these sessions - lived up to my expectations.

I found this session very applicable to my role and the content and delivery were excellent.

The right to health

Great panel with lots of practical examples of how to make the right to health a reality for people.

The session got lots of interesting discussion in over a short period of time. This time was well managed by the moderator and with the structured questions. The length of time was good to keep focus.

Well-balanced input from each of the panellists. Whilst there were areas of commonality, it was great to hear some different perspectives from each of the panel members. All-in-all, I found it to be an informative, thought-provoking, and engaging session.

Book for live online learning events.


Lovetta Williams is an Organisational Lead for Workforce Development at PHS.

Last updated: 03 March 2023