Published Wednesday, 31st January 2024

The council hosted its third Working Better Together conference on 24 January on the theme of creating healthy communities.

Attended by around 140 delegates, including GPs, residents and those from local voluntary and community organisations, the event was bigger than ever.

Adam Lent, Chief Executive of New Local, delivered the keynote speech, arguing that a community-powered approach, with an emphasis on prevention and using community resources, is needed to alleviate the pressures on the NHS and other public services.  

Speeches made by three local residents - Trish from Merstham, Mahjubeen from Redhill and Bola from Horley – highlighted the potential for community-led projects to improve people’s wellbeing. Although all three speakers became volunteers for different reasons, each of them has improved their own wellbeing, as well as the wellbeing of their communities, through their activities.

Resident speakers at the Working Better Together conference

Local residents - Bola, Trish and Mahjubeen - who spoke at the conference


The Leader of Reigate & Banstead Borough Council, Cllr Richard Biggs commented: “Listening to local residents’ experiences tackling health inequalities in their own communities was inspirational and I’m keen to see local organisations have more power to influence the health of their communities.”

Cllr Biggs, Adam Lent and Bola were also part of a panel discussion to respond to comments and questions from delegates. They were joined by Dr Gillian Orrow, GP and Programme Director for Growing Health Together, Julie Porter, Head of Communities and Partnerships at Tandridge District Council, Emma Cox, Programme Director at Surrey Downs Health and Care Partnership.

Julie Porter, Adam Lent, Trace Agnew, Cllr Richard Biggs, Justine Chatfield and Mari Roberts-Wood

Julie Porter, Adam Lent, Trace Agnew, Cllr Richard Biggs, Justine Chatfield and Mari Roberts-Wood


The event enabled people and organisations working within the area to come together, listen to each other’s experiences and to share ideas.  Mari Roberts-Wood, Managing Director of Reigate & Banstead Borough Council and chair of the event said: “The success of our latest Working Better Together event is testament to the strength of partnership working between our Community Development Team, local communities, GPs, charities and other organisations delivering local services. Everyone in the room wanted people to enjoy healthier and more fulfilled lives for longer and we need everyone to play a part in making this a reality.

“We’ve heard from some brilliant individuals and community organisations and the fresh ideas coming out of the workshops are opening up possibilities for even greater collaboration. Importantly, we’re continuing to learn lessons from each other so we can have an enduring impact.”  

The event was also an opportunity for delegates to reflect on recent approaches to supporting local grassroots projects, which are being developed through NHS funding and administered by the Council. 

Event feedback from delegates included:

"This was a great opportunity to network, learn from each other and I came away feeling inspired and energised."

"The conference gave me further scope to expand my volunteering and become an integral part of the community even though I did not grow up here. Thank you for inviting me."

Word cloud for WBT conference

Word cloud showing delegate feedback


Supporting grassroots projects

The Banstead Neighbourhood Fund has provided over £79k from the Banstead Primary Care Network and Surrey Downs ICP to 18 local projects, including Intergenerational Music Making, the Preston Food Club and the Banstead University of the Third Age (U3A).

The Council has awarded more than £133k of East Surrey Place funded Creating Healthy Communities Grants to 26 voluntary sector organisations and groups across the East Surrey Place area, which also covers Tandridge. These projects include singing and drama for adults with learning difficulties or sensory impairments, a community football team and befriending schemes.

Through East Surrey Place funding, the Council is also delivering Growing Health Through Art and Creativity in Redhill, Reigate, Merstham and Horley, using the power of art and creativity to boost physical and mental health outcomes for residents and reducing GP attendance.

GPs - Dr Orrow and Dr Siddiqui - at the conference

GPs - Dr Orrow and Dr Siddiqui - at the conference