Whilst no organisation should see itself as an island, I’m grateful that the weather and ferries/hovers held out so our esteemed guests could make it to us for this event from the island. The turnout to this event was fantastic and I was honoured to welcome guests from the IoW Council, local councils, IoW Clinical Commissioning Group and charitable organisations to the university to explore how we could work together on health and wellbeing related projects.

Firstly, I want to extend my thanks to everyone who attended, our guests from across the water and UoP colleagues. There was a genuine ‘buzz’ in the room as everybody came together in an open and enthusiastic manner to explore how we can best work together. My gratitude also goes to our speakers, who all gave fascinating talks that really highlighted some of the areas where we could all come together and add value for the island and university.

Following a welcome from Theme Director Prof Gordon Blunn, Locality Director Jonathan Smith from the IoW CCG gave a brilliant overview of the challenges and opportunities that arise through the work of his organisation. The fact that the CCG collects a lot of data led very nicely on to Prof Jim Briggs’s talk on ‘Saving Lives With Big Data’ and then Prof Dylan Jones who spoke around how analytics can support decision making in healthcare.

We then went on to hear from Prof Paul Rutter on the contribution pharmacy can make to patient care, before Laura Gaudian from the IoW council shared how the adult social care services are evolving on the island and the opportunities for collaboration there. Our first session was rounded off by talks from Prof Mark Gaterall and Stephen Neale who focussed on the built environment and how building performance can affect health.

After some well earnt coffee and pastries, we moved our attention to mental health. We heard from Hanna Griffiths who is the project manager for Independent Arts who provide art therapy programmes on the island. She informed us of the challenges that face her and those in her sector when trying to deliver these vital initiatives. Dr Daphne Kakalamanou followed this by presenting on the capabilities and interest within our psychology school which may be able to support. Similarly, Dr Wendy Sims-Schouten and Dr Emma Maynard rounded off the session by presenting the work of the Mental Health in Childhood and Education Hub who have so much to offer.

By the time we reached lunch, it was clear that there was almost endless potential for collaboration between our institutions in many different areas. Follow-up work is already going on to develop this, highlight and further define the opportunities and facilitate this towards work that can have a real impact for everyone involved.

As always, the proof will be in the pudding as to the long-term success of the collaborations that come from this- but the great contribution and openness to work together by all those in attendance goes to show that that stretch of water is not an impregnable barrier to partnership building.

I look forward to writing further pieces on the impactful pieces of collaborative work this event has led to….watch this space.