Why is it that, on average, people born only miles apart in Scotland can have vastly different health outcomes? How do we address these differences and ensure that living a long, healthy life is not a postcode lottery? Who is doing this work and how do we best support them? Those are some of the questions that the organisation where I work, NHS Health Scotland, is seeking to answer. You know who else is doing this work? You. The third sector is integral to improving the health and wellbeing of everyone in Scotland. Many of you are at the forefront of fighting inequalities to ensure a fair, and healthy, outcome for all members of society.

Two years ago, recognising the work that the third sector already does to address inequalities, we set up a steering group comprised of members from SCVO, VHS, CHEX, Inclusion Scotland and Shelter, amongst others, to better understand and support their work. Since then, we have been engaging with the third sector through a variety of mechanisms and this week we are announcing a programme of accessible learning opportunities that have been developed collaboratively.

Highlights include a series of workshops developed and delivered by Alzheimer Scotland. Each session will focus on a specific inequality – race and ethnicity, learning disability, LGBT status, gender and sensory impairment – and how these interplay with people’s experience of dementia. Click here for more information and how to register.

Working with Evaluation Support Scotland, we are funding FREE training on their popular Let’s Evaluate suite. This is something that, in discussing with the third sector, seemed to be a recurrent issue – how to demonstrate the impact that you make. These training sessions are designed to help third sector organisation understand and start to develop their plans for evaluation. Training will take place in Glasgow, Edinburgh, and Perth in February and March. Funded places are limited and can be booked by emailing nhs.healthscotland-wdteam@nhs.net.

At the Gathering, Voluntary Health Scotland will deliver a workshop on obesity. Confirmed panel members include representatives from Cancer Research UK and Obesity Action Scotland. This workshop is not just for health related third sector organisations – obesity is a complex issue that incorporates (and impacts on) a vast number of different inequalities. The workshop is being developed to be of interest to a large range of organisations involved in topics such as place & space, income inequality, and children & young people to name a few. Click here to register for the workshop.

Also at the Gathering, the collaborative learning programme will be delivering a workshop on developing leadership on inequalities. Taking a holistic perspective, the workshop will explore not only the skills and capabilities an individual needs to lead on inequalities but also explore how we create and influence a system that values distributed leadership on inequalities. The session is on Thursday at 10am and you can register here.

Scottish Community Development Centre colleagues are co-ordinating a number of experiential learning sessions on inequalities throughout Scotland. This learning opportunity will provide the space and guidance for participants to reflect on how their role/service can contribute to reducing health inequalities and support human rights. Again, this training is not just for health related charities but any organisation that seeks to address inequalities in any form. Any inequality has a direct impact on health inequalities. More information is still to come but if you would like to keep updated about where and when the workshops will be held, email nhs.healthscotland-wdteam@nhs.net.

Finally, the collaborative learning on inequalities project has commissioned a number of knowledge gathering activities that will influence our future work. If you would like to get involved and help to shape the next learning programme and further collaborative work, email the coordination team at nhs.healthscotland-wdteam@nhs.net.

It may be cliché, but together we are stronger and can make a larger impact on addressing the wicked problem of inequalities. At NHS Health Scotland, we don’t just want people to live longer lives we want them to live longer, healthier, and fairer lives. I think that is something that we all want, now isn’t it?