Since 'Community engagement: approaches to improve health', NICE guideline PH9 (2008), was published there has been a substantial increase in the evidence on how community engagement can improve health and wellbeing.
Involving local communities, particularly disadvantaged groups, is central to local and national strategies in England for promoting health and wellbeing and reducing health inequalities (Healthy lives, healthy people: our strategy for public health in England Department of Health; Fair society, healthy lives The Marmot Review).
Statutory obligations on public bodies recognise that the NHS and local government cannot improve people's health and wellbeing on their own. Working with local communities will lead to services that better meet people's needs, improve health and wellbeing and reduce health inequalities.
In addition to their statutory responsibilities, NHS England's Five year forward view proposes that public sector organisations should find ways to involve the voluntary sector in promoting health and wellbeing. But the Cabinet Office Community life survey 2014 to 2015 shows there has been a decline in informal volunteering since 2013/14. Levels of participation generally decrease as the level of local deprivation increases ('Community life survey 2014 to 2015').
This update reflects the importance of reciprocal relationships, particularly in areas of high deprivation. It aims to strengthen collaborations and partnerships and establish better links between statutory organisations and local communities. The aim is to ensure they can work together to deliver health and wellbeing initiatives that improve health outcomes.
Public bodies have a statutory obligation to undertake community engagement. See: Health and Social Care Act 2012, National Planning Policy Framework 2012, Public Services (Social Value Act) 2012, Localism Act 2011, Equality Act 2010, Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007 and Local Government Act 2000.
You can also see this guideline in the NICE pathway on community engagement.