Two creative partnerships that got people thinking differently about health

13 December 2018

Throughout 2018, the Health Foundation is proud to have been involved with two inspiring partnerships, both of which are encouraging people to empathise and engage in conversations about health.

One of the projects, A Mile in My Shoes, recently won five awards, including Best B2B Content Marketing Strategy/Campaign, Best Social Good Campaign and Best Live/Virtual Event Campaign at the Drum Marketing Awards and a silver award for Best B2B Campaign at the International Content Marketing Awards.

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1. The Healthy Lives Photography Commission

Our collaboration with the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) in early 2018 saw us commission photographer Matt Writtle to produce a series of images that illustrates the social, economic and environmental factors that influence the public’s health – from money and employment to housing and community networks.

The aim of the commission was to build public and political understanding of just how much of what makes us healthy sits outside of health care, and the inequality caused by the unequal distribution of these factors.

The resulting series of 40 images, produced by Matt over the course of two months in his home town of Chesham, highlight the importance of families, friends and communities in building the foundations for good health. Allowing people to feel supported, included and valued, and empowering them to influence positive change. 

The photographer, Matt Writtle, said:

'When I was contacted by the RSPH and the Health Foundation to apply for this commission, I knew immediately it was something I wanted to do because I firmly believe that good health is essential to a happy and prosperous life. What inspired me to pick up my camera was to capture how we deal with the circumstances we’re dealt: what is it about the environment in which we live that restricts or enables us to live a healthy life?

'Having spent nearly four months documenting the people of Chesham, I discovered that what empowers people to strive for a healthy life ranges from education and wealth to the environment and opportunity they experience. What inspires them is help and advice at grassroots level from groups already in the community, rather than policies imposed from the top down.'

Duncan Stephenson from the RSPH said:

'Our collaboration with the Health Foundation enabled us to commission this beautiful series of images from Matt Writtle to shine a light on how the places where we live, work and play shape our health. The images aim to encourage us all – including government and wider society – to do more to collectively create the surroundings that make people healthy.

'We hope the photos stimulate debate and highlight that no matter where you live in the UK, be it in one of the healthiest or most deprived areas, everyone should have the opportunity to live a healthy life.'

Explore the images and accompanying commentary

This project follows on from our earlier 2017 collaboration with the RSPH on a dystopian short story competition, Health: From Here to Where?

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2. A Mile in My Shoes

Empathy is often defined as ‘putting yourself in someone else’s shoes’. It’s something people working in health and social care need to do with the people in their care. But how often do we empathise with the people providing this care?

In 2016 The Health Foundation partnered with the Empathy Museum to deliver the award-winning A Mile in My Shoes: Health and Social Care, to tackle that exact question and promote the people behind the NHS and social care, through this immersive experience. 

An interactive shoe shop, A Mile in My Shoes invites you to literally step into a pair of someone else’s shoes and embark on a mile-long physical, emotional and imaginative journey to see the world through their eyes. 

We gathered 35 audio recordings of people working in, and using, health and social care; from a junior doctor to a hospital imam. The breadth of the stories also gives insight into the remarkable contribution and sheer diversity of people and positions that contribute towards the nation’s health and health care – from a prison psychiatrist, to a carer to a cardiac physiologist.

Nigel Parry, A Mile in My Shoes storyteller said:

'Doing the project has definitely made me stop and think about my job. I like doing it better now. I think about it more. And I think about what other people do in their jobs.'

Clare Patey from the Empathy Museum said: 

'Working in collaboration with the Health Foundation gave us access and insights into the health care environment, and enabled us to investigate the power of empathy in an industry at the forefront of public and political consciousness. The project really shone a light on the people who make up the fabric of our health and social care system. The stories we collected with the Health Foundation have contributed to our library of stories from across the globe, which cover different aspects of life, from loss and grief to hope and love; and contribute to our exploration of how empathy can not only transform our personal relationships, but also help tackle global challenges such as prejudice, conflict and inequality. We were really thrilled to have won five awards for the project with the Health Foundation, increasing the visibility of A Mile in My Shoes has been really important to our vision of a more empathetic world.'

The project was later re-imagined for digital audiences. You can listen to all the stories online.

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