A Plymouth charity which specialises in community engagement and health improvement across the South West, has received a prestigious national award.
Well Connected has been presented with the Dean’s Award 2020 from the Faculty of General Dental Practice (UK), in honour of more than a decade of community health engagement and improvement across the South West.
The work of the Well Connected team started in 2008 when they were part of Peninsula Dental School (PDS). PDS and the University of Plymouth established the Peninsula Dental Social Enterprise (PDSE) in 2015 to deliver community and outreach work, and in 2017 Well Connected became an independent charity
The charity still works closely with the University of Plymouth, providing community outreach projects and placements for medical, dental and allied health professions students. These activities include interactions with groups in the community with specific needs, ranging from the homeless to young parents, adults with learning disabilities to the elderly, immigrant populations and substance abusers. It also supports community elements of research activities for academic staff.
Since 2017 Well Connected has forged further working partnerships with organisations outside the University: for example, its teams are currently working with Beacon Medical Group to ensure that groups within the community who are vulnerable or who have specific needs can understand, access and benefit from the new online GP consultation service.
Speaking of the award Wendy Smith MBE, Strategic Lead for Community Engagement at Well Connected, commented: “I am hugely honoured and very proud that Well Connected is being presented with such a prestigious award from our academic and clinical colleagues. I believe it demonstrates the value they place on effective oral health improvement projects, the value of partnership and inter-professional working. We are very proud to be community engagement specialists – community really does matter!”
Ian Mills, Dean of the Faculty of General Dental Practice (UK) and who has a long involvement with PDS, said: “I am delighted to be in a position to recognise the incredible work the team at Well Connected have done over the past decade or so. I have witnessed it at close hand, and I will be very proud to present the team with the award. The work they do is truly inspirational.”
Professor Christopher Tredwin, Dean of PDS, said: “Our objective is to nurture well-rounded dental health professionals who are both clinically excellent and who understand and have empathy for the diversity of patients they will treat. We would not be able to provide our students with the wealth of community engagement and interaction they enjoy, without the valued input of the team at Well Connected. They are part of the reason why we are recognised as one of the best dental schools in the country.”
Dr Robert Witton, chief Executive, Director and Board member of PDSE said: “I am delighted the FGDP has recognised the community engagement approach that has been developed to support oral health improvement in the South West over the past decade. The work has brought many vulnerable people into contact with dental services. It is a credit to the team they have been recognised in this way.”
Life Works College, which provides services for young people with learning difficulties. Well Connected has delivered several projects with them including Dental Ambassadors and Beat the Bugs. Comments from service users and staff include: “suits all kinds of learning needs”; “it’s a very relevant topic/content”, and; “the team are good at building rapport with students.”