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Posted February 18, 2020

Biddy's Blog! : Social Justice in Public Health Conference


I met Susan at the Edinburgh Community Health Forum AGM where she informed the audience that NHS Health Scotland were funding 2 free places for forum members to attend the Social Justice for Public Health conference. I knew immediately that this was something that I wanted to attend!

And I was delighted to get a fully funded place at the two day public health conference held at Dunblane Hydro on 28th and 29th Nov 2019.

I didn’t really know what to expect and I was blown away by the sheer amount of workshops, presentations, breakout sessions that were happening in 2 days.

The plenary sessions on day one were so informative – I tried to write it all down but then felt I was not paying attention to the feel of what was happening in the room.

I would say that first morning Fiona Duncan was so inspirational and enthusiastic in her presentation about how she has chaired the review of cares services for young people. It is an area I have worked in for many years and I felt she brought a breath of fresh air to what is a difficult topic, but I also got from her the commitment that real change WILL happen.

I could go on about each session I attended as each one gave me information etc but what I really want to focus on is the impact that the conference has had on myself, the way I lead Fresh Start and how we see our role in public health.

What struck me the most of is so refreshing - is that there is a collective understanding that social justice and public health go hand in hand and that this covers all aspects that can impact our health, from housing to mental health to physical health.

The amount of academic studies and knowledge is incredible and also was a positive reinforcement for me and the work that I have been doing for the last 20 years. We know that things make a difference but it was enlightening to see clear cut research showing the impact of a “home” and not just a house. Showing the impact of food security and not just the financial impact.

I came away energised and with a huge amount of inspiration to join up and collaborate with more public organisations, as well as third sector. It made me recognise and acknowledge the huge amount of work the third sector do in trying to alleviate and tackle health inequalities and made me more determined going forward.

I would highly recommend this to anyone with an interest in public health.