City Health International


Like many I have spent the last two weeks demonstrating a casual disregard for the advice provided by health organisations in terms of food and alcohol consumption. My levels of physical activity have not been all they should have been either, although I am full of good intentions for the coming year and have started to make my overfed body walk more.

On the upside I have greatly enjoyed spending time with colleagues, friends and family. Its been an opportunity to talk and to think in a more relaxed manner than working life normally allows. Inevitably, as we leave one year and look forward to 2019, I have been reflecting on what has gone on and considering what we face in the rapidly approaching future. Considering the UK’s political situation, ongoing reductions in public expenditure, the huge challenges we all face to improve the health and lives of our populations I have come to an odd realisation. Despite all apparent indications to the opposite I am feeling a sense of optimism. Those that know me will realise this is not necessarily my normal outlook. I can also confirm this is not fuelled by an excess of liquid Christmas cheer, nor even a glass of eggnog. Possibly the recent run of decent form by my football team might have had some impact but given their defeat today I think we can also discount that. So, what is behind this positive sentiment?

Fundamentally I think it’s down to changes in attitude, a growing understanding that we need to work differently and more collaboratively if we are going to sustain, let alone improve, the lives and health of our communities. While in many cases this is being driven by necessity, we should acknowledge that sometimes well-resourced funding silos are also a barrier to effective delivery. Politically there is also a greater understanding of the potential and importance of improving health and its associate, happiness. The growing recognition of the importance of tackling isolation and loneliness should help to increase understanding of the value of community assets such as lunch clubs and day centres. The potential of harm reduction, across a range of issues, also seems to be enjoying a renaissance. Again, I think this is probably, at least partly, driven by financial considerations, but the focus on the quality of individual and community life is one to be welcomed. Bringing people with us, helping them improve their own lives, beyond condemnation and lecturing, is something we should embrace and promote.

This line of thought takes me back to City Health 2018 in Odesa. I have previously mentioned the lecture delivered by David Wilson in the closing session. If you have not previously looked it up, I strongly recommend you do so. I guarantee its twenty minutes you will not regret investing. While on the City Health website also look up some of the other presentations, Geoff Gallop, Jon Sigfusson (essential for anyone with an interest in substance misuse prevention in young people) and David Vlahov stood out for me, but there really is something there for everyone. Other sessions at the conference and contacts made came in useful to me recently.

At a recent conference on Hepatitis C in London we were looking at lessons in community communication we can learn from others, including the HIV world. The work being advanced in the Ukraine, in demanding circumstances, stood out. Australia can also provide some impressive examples of reaching out to communities, in this case Aboriginal groups, demonstrating that the concept of “hard to reach” is often as much a conceptual barrier as an objective reality. At long last in London you can see the wheels are, slowly, turning to really improve our response to Hepatitis C and the potential to eradicate a virus by treatment is gaining ground in the minds of politicians and policy makers.

I am also feeling positive about the conference the London Drug and Alcohol Policy Forum is hosting with London South Bank University on 18 January, Addressing Complexity: Homelessness and Addiction. This is a new collaboration for us both and aims to bring research and practice closer together. London is experiencing high levels of rough sleeping and homelessness, but I have been delighted by the response to this event with people from local authorities, the police, charities and other agencies all wanting to come together and discuss how we can do better in helping some of our most vulnerable citizens. We have spent the grand total of £0, nothing, on marketing for this event so it also demonstrates that despite years of cuts and the loss of many excellent staff, our networks – as well as interest and enthusiasm – do endure.

The problems we all work to overcome in our work can often seem overwhelming but let’s remind ourselves that we have thousands of existing and potential allies and partners to work with. There are great networks, of which KAC is one (do get booked for City Health in Liverpool, 22 March) which provide further opportunities. If we continue to explore how we can work together and explore new approaches who knows what we might achieve in the year ahead and beyond?

So, on that unrelenting upbeat note let me wish health and happiness to you all for 2019.

Thursday, April 11, 2019
Let me start with a big thank you to Liverpool, and especially the team from John Moores University, for another outstanding City Health conference. The impressive surroundings of Liverpool Medical Institute- a monument to the 19 th century’s commitment to science as well as its obsession with ancient Greece- proved to be an ideal venue. It contains a wonderful historic library, a selection of surgical and medical tools that bring a tear to the eye, and portraits of those who have contributed to the development of public health and modern health care, including some rather fearsome looking characters.
Wednesday, February 28, 2018
Welcome to my initial blog for City Health International. My intention over the coming months is to look at developments in research, politics and the media through the prism of urban health and what it may mean for the City Health community (so pretty much anyone reading this). While my background is in national and regional policy work around substance misuse, with a more recent interest in crime and anti-social behaviour issues, I will be looking at a much broader range of topics. Before we embark on that though I shall briefly explain how I got involved with the phenomenon that is City Health and how that helped extend my horizons beyond alcohol and drugs.
Sunday, January 27, 2019
I hope 2019 has begun well and that the year ahead proves a good one for you all. Despite the ongoing political uncertainty in the UK and increasing strain on budgets, with little hope of improvement in the near term, I remain surprisingly upbeat. It may be the result of what seems to have been a successful London Christmas alcohol campaign, once the data firms up I shall certainly share more. It could be the prospect of the forthcoming City Health International Conference in Liverpool on 22 March, which promises some great speakers. Possibly it is a result of small, but welcome, signs of a willingness to explore new ways of thinking and working to reduce health inequalities in relation to mental health and hepatitis. Perhaps it’s having just secured funding to update our Safer Nightlife guidance, which aims to reduce drug related harms in the night time economy. I am sure the money has helped, you could say it has incentivised me.
Monday, December 31, 2018
Like many I have spent the last two weeks demonstrating a casual disregard for the advice provided by health organisations in terms of food and alcohol consumption. My levels of physical activity have not been all they should have been either, although I am full of good intentions for the coming year and have started to make my overfed body walk more .



CHI Melbourne 2019

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CHI Liverpool 2019

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CHI Odessa 2018

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CHI Basel 2017

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CHI London 2016

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CHI Barcelona 2015

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CHI Amsterdam 2014

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CHI Glasgow 2013

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CHI London 2012

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City Health International
Founded in 2012 City Health International is a network of individuals and organisations engaged in the study of and response to structural health issues and health behaviours in the urban environment.
For the first time in history the majority of the world’s population now live in urban environments and the proportion continues to grow. As national governments struggle to deal with the pressures and demands of growing urban populations against a backdrop of financial deficits and uncertainty, it is increasingly left to those working at a city level to provide the leadership and support needed to tackle key health issues.