Where We’re At: Reigate and Banstead Edition

March 27, 2024   By Mari Roberts-Wood, Managing Director at Reigate and Banstead Council

Mari Roberts-Wood, Managing Director at Reigate and Banstead Council tells us about what makes the council unique and what you can expect to find along Banstead’s majestic Narnia Trail (complete with a lion, a witch and a wardrobe).

We know data doesn’t paint the full picture.

Surrey is perceived as a wealthy county. Whilst many of our communities are affluent, we have pockets of disadvantage, including one area which ranks highest on the Index of Multiple Deprivation, and another three in the top 20.  The needs of some of our residents, be they related to financial disadvantage, health conditions or other circumstances are not as evident in the high-level data as in other parts of the country. However, the needs and experiences of our residents are very similar, and the challenges, such as accessing affordable healthy food, can be greater than in areas where contrasts in living standards are less. The area’s perceived wealth makes it harder for us and for our voluntary and community sector partners to access external funding to provide the services that our communities need.

We are challenging ourselves to become more participative in our approach.

Our community development team takes a strengths-based approach to support our communities to be more active, develop their own solutions and work with statutory and local partners together to bring about positive benefits with and for local people. 

Building on these existing strengths, our aim is to work more closely with our communities across our services. As pressures on our budgets continue, and indeed on budgets across the whole system, we remain passionate about the importance of community development and taking a genuinely system-wide approach to transforming outcomes with and for local communities, focusing more on prevention.

We’re developing new partnerships to improve health locally.

Reigate and Banstead straddles two of the four Places that make up Surrey Heartlands ICS.  We are leading the Prevention & Communities Priority of East Surrey Place, which has transformed collaboration and mutual understanding between local government, local voluntary sector partners and local NHS partners. For example:

  • Our Community Development Workers work hand in hand with local GPs on health creation initiatives with communities
  • The NHS is financially supporting a number of initiatives to increase the focus on prevention
  • We are striving to improve outcomes for high intensity service users who seek support not just from us but also from other local partners

We are keen to learn from and collaborate with other districts in New Local’s network.

The challenges and opportunities of a second tier local authority are sometimes different from those of unitaries and county councils. We are very well connected to and understand our local communities, but many of the services that directly impact our resident’s wellbeing are not our services, so we need partnership working to be at the heart of what we and other local statutory partners do, putting people and place before organisation.

We are unusual as a district in that we have been investing in community development for almost 20 years. Since the onset of the pandemic, our relationships with health partners have been transformed. We used the King’s Fund report on the role of districts in ICSs to complete a self-assessment of how we are working with our health colleagues. Through this, we identified some real strengths and areas where we’re keen to do more. We are happy to share our approach with other New Local members.

Visit Reigate and Banstead and you’ll discover the magic of Narnia.

We recommend walking in the Surrey Hills along the North Downs Way, and taking a detour into Banstead Woods with its Narnia Trail, where you can meet Aslan the Lion, see the majestic White Witch and even step through the wardrobe, complete with coats.

We’re also home to Crumbs Brewing, which creates delicious beers from the wastage of a local artisan bakery. And to Reigate Grammar School, with Sir Keir Starmer, Romesh Ranganathan and David Walliams amongst its alumni.

Photo credit: AndyScottCC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons; Rory James, Romesh Ranganathan, CC BY 2.0 DEED, via Flickr (this image has been modified); Peter Trimming, cc-by-sa/2.0; Crispin Jones on Unsplash.

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