The Community Health Leaders project (CHL) is an asset based approach to finding and training people who have the potential to become community activists and leaders.
Its aims are to promote and foster community leadership and collective responsibility, not just for those undertaking the training, but for those they then go on to engage with.
CHL is a hybrid of Health Issues in the Community, a university accredited community health course and Community Renewal’s process for creating a Community Vision.
We piloted this programme in 2006 in North Glasgow and have since delivered it in Airdrie (2009-10 ) and in Govanhill (2011-12).
In North Glasgow we trained 12 Community Health Leaders who got involved in a diverse range of local projects including an accessibility audit of the main shopping street in Possil on behalf of visually impaired residents. This audit resulted in several changes being made by the Council and by local shopkeepers.
In North Lanarkshire we trained 10 Community Health Leaders, 6 of whom were senior citizens who created a project to tackle isolation among elderly residents. Following a listening process involving home visits and a series of focus groups, the Community Health Leaders developed a directory of activities aimed at older people in Airdrie.
In Govanhill 6 local women underwent training and completed the course and have gone on to be active members of their communities.
As part of their final project they organised a community showing of “Class Divided”, a harrowing film where young children come to terms with racism. The film was shown to a cross section of young people aged 10-14 years old from Govanhill’s diverse cultural communities. The young people took part in a debate about racism and discrimination in Govanhill and reflected on their collective experience. There was agreement that the main racial tension seemed to be between the Roma and Asian communities. The young people then organised and delivered a series of film shows and follow up discussion groups to further explore how they could tackle the issues and make Govanhill a safer place for everyone to live in.