Mid Ulster Councils, the Public Health Agency (PHA) and two health trusts have joined forces to launch the ‘Make a Change’ project, working with local unemployed people to help improve their physical activity, nutrition, mental health and wellbeing.
Dungannon & South Tyrone, Cookstown and Magherafelt Councils, along with the Northern and Southern Health and Social Care Trusts and the PHA, are launching ‘Make a Change’ as part of the Mid Ulster Cluster Joint Working Arrangements Plan, which aims to improve the health and wellbeing of the people in the mid-Ulster area by tackling health inequalities.
Madeline Heaney, Head of Health and Social Wellbeing Improvement (North), PHA, said: “The Public Health Agency’ is dedicated to tackling health inequalities and promoting positive health and wellbeing, and this project is an excellent example of how we can do this by working in partnership with local councils, statutory colleagues and the community and voluntary sector.
“Our collaborative work, as part of this cluster, will initially focus on local people who are unemployed, with particular emphasis on their physical activity, nutrition and mental health and wellbeing. We will also concentrate on new ways to engage with people who are difficult to reach as they do not traditionally access services and support.”
The ‘Make a Change’ initiative involves Health Support Officers providing one-to-one support to people from the target group to help them make a change for the benefit of their health. The themes identified for the year are physical activity and healthy eating, with an emphasis on how these can contribute to mental health and wellbeing.
The Mayor of Dungannon and South Tyrone Borough Council, Councillor Phelim Gildernew, hosting the launch, added: “On behalf of the three councils, the launch of this Action Plan and the Make a Change project by the Mid Ulster Cluster Joint Working Arrangements group is further testament to how meaningful joint action can make a positive difference to health and wellbeing in our local communities. By working together, the Cluster partners are learning more about each other’s roles and finding ways to coordinate our work for maximum effect.“
Experts recommend that regular physical activity is important for good health. Being active promotes good mental health by improving mood, reducing anxiety and helping to protect against depression. It helps maintain a healthy weight and reduces the risk of developing many diseases including heart disease, diabetes, breast cancer, and colon cancer.
Madeline continued: “What we eat every day also has a big impact on our health – in fact, eating well is one of the most important things we can do to improve and help protect our health. By eating well, we can help prevent many of the health problems that are common in Northern Ireland today such as cancer, heart disease, obesity and high blood pressure.”
Contact the Public Health Agency on 028 9055 3663
Pictured at the launch of the ‘Make a Change’ initiative, are (back row L-R): Madeline Heaney, Head of Health and Social Wellbeing Improvement (North), Public Health Agency (PHA); Laurence Hastings, Head of Leisure Services, Magherafelt District Council; Fiona McClements, Deputy Director of Environmental Health, Dungannon & South Tyrone Borough Council; Cllr Sean McGuigan, Dungannon & South Tyrone Borough Council; Gerard Rocks, Head of Health Improvement, Promoting Wellbeing Team, Southern Health and Social Care Trust; Mark Kelso, Director of Environmental Health, Cookstown District Council; Michael Owen, Health and Social Wellbeing Improvement Manager, PHA; Richard Orr, Non-Executive Member, PHA Board; Mary O’Neill, Head of Health Improvement & Community Development, Northern Health and Social Care Trust; Edmond McClean, Director of Operations, PHA; (seated L-R) Cllr Tony Quinn, Chairman, Cookstown District Council; Mary McMahon, Chair, PHA and Cllr Phelim Gildernew, Mayor, Dungannon & South Tyrone Borough Council.
Notes to the editor
- The Joint Launch took place on Friday 22 June in the Lecture Theatre, South West College, Circular Road, Dungannon.
- An Action Plan has been prepared for the current year which includes work aimed at addressing the challenge of engaging with those who are often difficult to involve in mainstream activities and services. The target group for 2012-13 is unemployed people.
- The recommended amount of exercise for people is at least 30 minutes of moderate activity most days for adults and older people, at least 60 minutes every day for school-aged children, and at least three hours each day for those under five years
- Cookstown District Council is acting as the host/lead Council on behalf of the partners for this element of the 2012/13 Joint Working Action Plan.