In 2004, the Director of Public Health, the Chief Librarian and the Vice Chair of the Heart of Birmingham Primary Care Trust met to discuss an idea which they had provisionally named Health Exchange.
They were looking for a different way of delivering public health, particularly health promotion — one that would be rooted in the communities it served.
The word ‘exchange’ was felt to be critical, because it reflected the role that conversation plays in helping people adopt healthier lifestyles.
They also thought that individuals from the communities that would most benefit from healthier lifestyles and improved wellbeing could play a key part in promoting such change.
Health Exchange was formally established in 2006 and is now celebrating its 10th anniversary and to mark the occasion Graham Beaumont, its chief executive, reflects on the first decade of Health Exchange and the lessons learnt in steering a service from the public sector to a new life as an independent social enterprise. That this has been achieved during a period marked by some of the greatest changes in the NHS and the wider health landscape in a generation makes it even more significant.
From its early beginnings Health Exchange has become a key player in Birmingham’s social enterprise sector, and especially in Digbeth where it is a strong supporter of the Digbeth Social Enterprise Quarter.