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This study builds on over a decade of work by our research team that has focused on identifying ways to reduce health inequities. The South-East London Community Health study (SELCoH), the UK’s largest community epidemiological cohort study, collected community psychiatric and physical morbidity data, alongside demographic and socioeconomic data using surveys in an urban ethnically diverse area of London (Hatch et al, 2011). SELCoH collected data from a representative sample of the general population, and the data collected was comparable to the Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey (APMS; Weich et al, 2011), which is the longest ongoing mental health survey both in the UK and globally. Focused specifically within Southwark and Lambeth, the first phase of SELCoH (2008-2010) included 1,698 adults aged 16 and over from 1075 randomly selected households, followed by 1052 adults in the second phase and 500 adults in the third phase. SELCoH highlighted the need to examine local data to get a clearer picture of health outcomes and inequalities particularly in urban communities, rather than relying on national figures, to better plan local services (Hatch et al, 2012).  

The prevalence of common mental disorders (CMD) in the SELCoH sample was 24.2%, and the study showed significantly poorer health outcomes in the Black Caribbean group compared to the Black African group, for almost all health indicators except hazardous alcohol use (Hatch et al 2011). SELCoH highlighted the importance of avoiding commonly made comparisons between wide ethnic groups, such as White versus Black (Hatch et al 2011). Instead, SECLoH emphasised how intersecting identities of varying privilege and disadvantage (e.g., socioeconomic status, migration status, ethnicity etc.) show specific differences in odds for CMD, and highlight health inequalities (Goodwin et al, 2018). A study of social networks and social support using SELCoH data showed differences across socio-demongraphic factors in types of social support and social networks (Smyth et al, 2014). The study found protective factors for CMD incuded perceptions of emotional and instrumental support, alongside the size of family and friend networks (Smyth et al, 2014).  


The CONNECT study builds on this previous research and was designed within a partnership with community organisations and responds to local policy in Southwark and Lambeth. Collaborators for our study include leadership from local council, mental health charities and community organisations, who are key partners working in strategies to promote community safety, prevent violence against women and girls, promote employment and skills and improve food security. Our study was driven by community engagement work carried out by above-mentioned partners who co-created the research proposal and protocol with the study team and identified specific areas that can inform their strategies and policies. As our study is closely aligned with our partners’ workstreams and strategies, this partnership will enable the voice of local people to be heard and will ensure the views and experiences of communities drive the changes they are committed to achieving. 

The CONtributions of social NEtworks to Community Thriving (CONNECT) study aims to answer questions such as:

  • How can we reduce inequities experienced by Black and other minoritised groups?

  • What can we do to help strengthen networks in your local community?

  • How do social connections help your community thrive?

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