News  |  Posted June 9, 2022

Linking Planning and Health

A medical student reflects on her internship with PAS

A blog post by Julia Fahy, Year 1 ScotGEM student. Many thanks to Julia for spending the last few months with us and for her insights on linking placemaking with health.

ScotGEM is a graduate-entry medical programme led by the universities of St. Andrews and Dundee, in collaboration with NHS Fife, NHS Tayside, NHS Highland, NHS Dumfries and Galloway and the University of the Highlands and Islands. The programme’s mission is “to produce a cohort of high quality, adaptable and compassionate clinical leaders”. To this end, ScotGEM students have the opportunity to engage in a bespoke ‘Agents of Change’ programme throughout their training. I was fortunate to complete a third sector service learning placement with Planning Aid Scotland (PAS) as one of my ‘Agents of Change’ projects.

See the poster here.

The goal for my placement with PAS was to gain greater insight into the third sector and, more specifically, to observe the links between planning, place-making and health, further identifying synergies between the sectors. I began my placement with some research into past and present policies in the planning and health sector in Scotland, before joining in with the activities of PAS.

With PAS’ activities centring around advocacy and community engagement, it wasn’t long before I was able to observe promising connections between the work of the organisation and the health sector. I joined in with the activities of various projects, including ‘Heart of Newhaven’, ‘Live Life Morvern’, the ‘Intergenerational Network’, and ‘Play Scotland’. These initiatives covered a wide variety of topics: community groups developing their local place plans; youth engagement in the National Planning Framework 4; and intergenerational community activities.

To bring all of these experiences together and gain some final input, I facilitated a workshop with a group of PAS volunteers. During this event, I shared the opportunities for collaboration that I have observed, and posed two questions to the group. Firstly, what opportunities can you identify in planning and placemaking to promote and improve the health of a community? And secondly, what challenges might you have to overcome to in the process?

The observation that struck me most was the breadth of topics covered in the responses. This supports the findings that I observed in PAS, where each event exposed another area of planning and placemaking that has the power to positively impact the health of a community.

Learning from and observing the impact that PAS is having in communities across Scotland was a wonderful experience, and one I had the opportunity to reflect on in the attached poster, along with how these insights will inform my professional practice in the future.