EdgeHillUniversityThe man behind an award-winning book on health and the social effects of income inequality will be at Edge Hill University to help launch a new research centre.

Professor Richard Wilkinson is known for his best-selling book with Kate Pickett The Spirit Level, which claims that societies with more equal distribution of incomes have better health, fewer social problems such as violence, drug abuse, teenage births and obesity, and are more cohesive than ones in which the gap between the rich and poor is greater. It won the 2011 Political Studies Association Publication of the Year Award and the 2010 Bristol Festival of Ideas Prize.

For more than 30 years, Richard has played a formative role in research and public awareness of health inequalities and the social determinants of health. Since persuading David Ennals, the then Secretary of State, to set up a working party which produced the Black Report on Health Inequalities published in 1980, his research has concentrated on health, income, anti-poverty and fairness.

The British social epidemiologist, author and advocate will be delivering a talk about his work on 4th February entitled Transforming Society: inequality, sustainability and the quality of life. In his public lecture, Richard will discuss the damaging effects of inequality, how it can be reduced, and the path to sustainable wellbeing.

Richard trained in economic and social history and then in epidemiology. He worked briefly in the National Health Service before taking up research on health inequalities and the social determinants of health. He is now Emeritus Professor of Social Epidemiology at the University of Nottingham and honorary professor at University College London and at the University of York. In 2013 he received Solidar’s Silver Rose Award and was named as Community Access Unlimited’s Humanitarian of the Year.

While on campus, Richard will also help to mark the official launch of the University’s Institute for Public Policy and Professional Practice (I4P), a cross-disciplinary research and knowledge exchange initiative. Work with the Institute includes undertaking commissioned evaluations and funded research projects which draw upon the skills and expertise of staff across the University to reflect critically on the developments and possibilities for public and third sector collaboration.

Professor John Diamond, Director of the I4P centre, said: “The official launch and talk by Richard will mark what we hope will be the start of many exciting projects and collaborations carried out by the I4P to support the public sector, not-for-profit sector and local, regional and national voluntary and community sector organisations.”

Vice-Chancellor Dr John Cater added: “One of the consequences of the crises of 2008 has been the impact on the world of public policy making, practice and thinking. We see I4P as one of our contributions to supporting colleagues and decision-makers across their different professional and geographical boundaries and communities of practice in their thinking and self-reflection. We also see I4P as part of our commitment to the education, training and continuing professional development of those engaged both in the frontline as well as being part of the decision-making at a strategic level.”