The aim of this paper is to critically examine the rationale for citizen engagement in the delivery of public health programmes through exploring perspectives on volunteer roles in two case studies: a neighbourhood health project based in a disadvantaged housing estate and a sexual
health outreach project working with men who have sex with men. Interviews were conducted with stakeholders, including managers, practitioners, volunteers and service users. Volunteers were found to perform a bridging function, connecting disadvantaged communities to welfare provision, and
they were engaged in social networks beyond their immediate role. The paper concludes by arguing that citizen engagement in public health is not a superficial response to welfare deficits, but should be framed as an appropriate strategy to address health inequalities at community level, within
a citizenship framework.
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