Guest Blog: Why ‘Caring Places: Building Healthy Communities’?

Guest Blog: Why ‘Caring Places: Building Healthy Communities’?
posted 29 September 2021 in category COVID-19 Social Care

In this guest blog, Alison Rice reflects on putting together the upcoming Buurtzorg Caring Places festival, exploring why the conversation around building healthy communities is as relevant as ever.

When the idea of a conference was first put forward in 2019 by Buurtzorg Britain and Ireland’s CEO, Brendan Martin, nobody could have predicted what would come with organising our largest event yet. 

From the outset the event was planned to be about much more than sharing the work of Buurtzorg, a pioneering healthcare organisation established in 2007 whose self-managing teams have revolutionised health and social care in the Netherlands and globally.

The event was intended to bring together as many individuals, professionals and organisations as possible that had their own stories and experiences to share from their work transforming neighbourhoods and communities into happier and healthier places to live and work. We hoped the event would provide a platform for them to be part of a growing coalition for change.

Since that first mention of a conference, we have found ourselves in a very different world. Sadly, like so many events, COVID-19 meant we postponed our festival not once but twice!

Despite the challenges of organising the event, and while being mindful that the pandemic continues and we must take all precautionary measures, we firmly believe that the need for the conversations we had planned is as great as ever.

In fact, the conference has become a festival, reflecting our desire for it to be fun, informal and friendly whilst addressing challenging and important issues and allowing us to learn from one another. We have a fantastic line up of more than 35 speakers, with diverse backgrounds and each with their own unique stories to tell and experiences to share. And we’ve gone from an in-person event to a hybrid event with virtual tickets enabling us to reach a global audience.

Our event will be a celebration of how much we have all learnt during COVID-19 and are still learning. It will be an opportunity to share learning about how communities and public services have responded to the pandemic and to develop new perspectives about how we really do build back better, and crucially, in a way that is sustainable in the future.

We will bring together a diverse group of people including people with lived experience of using health and social care services, community activists, nurses and other health and care professionals, organisational leaders and more to explore what it takes to co-create caring places and healthy communities.

We’ll explore the future of community nursing, social care, general practice and other services, asking the question: “How can all of us and our communities live our best lives on our own terms, and how should services and institutions help us?”

We know this question is closely linked to the fantastic work of PPL, a social enterprise and B Corp that exists to promote better health, wellbeing and economic outcomes across the UK. That’s why we’re delighted to have them as one of our festival sponsors and be able to share their impact.

For more information about the festival, visit

To learn more about PPL's work, visit