Heart of Mersey (HoM) was launched by a National Health Service and local government partnership in 2003. At almost exactly the same time and through a similar mechanism the North West Health Brussels Office (subsequently the North of England EU Health Partnership, NEEHP) was established. From the beginning public health made its case for engaging with the European agenda.
As a population based heart health charity, HoM has always been aware that policies agreed in the European Parliament in Brussels have a huge bearing on our health. Whether this is the price and availability of food determined by the Common Agricultural Policy or tobacco control legislation such as the Tobacco Products Directive, European legislation affects the health of our local communities directly. In the same way therefore as HoM has advocated policies to promote healthier environments with the UK Parliament, so the charity has engaged directly with our European representatives and Brussels-based organisations whenever and wherever this has been appropriate.
HoM and its fellow Community Interest Companies within the Health Equalities Group (HEG), has worked with European partners in sharing good practice and drawing in funding for innovative project delivery and research for ten years. Our success places us as the leading social enterprise based in the North of England delivering public health interventions funded by the European Union. We are regularly approached by potential partners hoping to draw on the expertise we have demonstrated across non-communicable diseases and sport and education, building on our project management, evaluation and dissemination skills.
Working initially with the NW Health Brussels Office and building on local work, in 2005/6 HoM put an application in for funding from DG SANCO for 'Healthy Stadia', and received €532,000 direct funding. Since then we have worked directly with a wide range of organisations across Europe in delivering high-profile projects such as EuroHeart 11, EConDA and EuroFit. In addition we have worked directly with UEFA, the World Health Organisation European Office and EuroHealthNet.
Based in Liverpool, a past European Capital of Culture, HEG is proud to engage with and learn from our European friends.