Monday, 24 July 2017

SWHertsPHS - The People's Health Service

How could we transition to a more healthy way of living and maybe avoid the blight of many of the more common ailments that appear all too frequently in our modern way of living?

Our health is the most important thing we have. Very often we only appreciate this when suddenly our good health is snatched away from us.

Many of us spend more time taking care of our car or house than we do of the only vehicle that really matters; our own physical body. Often we hear people say... my health let me down... really? ... or perhaps was it the irresponsible way we treated our body?

If we were able to
  • Notice when things were going wrong with our body
  • Become more aware of the needs of our body
  • Make simple adjustments to improve the performance and reliability of our body
The benefits to all of us (and to those dependent on us) is that we would have a better chance of living longer and being able to enjoy a higher quality of life during those years.

This SWHertsPHS is an initiative to empower us 'to be able to get good, relevant information' and perhaps make better health choices. It is not a replacement for the NHS or Medical services. When things have already gone wrong and we need medical assistance, then we are all grateful for the local doctors surgeries and hospitals... but what if we could avoid being sick in the first place? What if we started to build a whole preventative health care service? We already have many of the bits in place... perhaps all it needs a bit of co-ordination and collaboration to have a much greater impact.

What are the ambitions for the SWHerts PHS (People's Health Service)?

  1. Encourage people to take more responsibility for their own health 
  2. Prevention is better than cure. Reducing the burden on the NHS... a reduction by 10% would make a world of difference to the hard pressed health service. 
  3. Weekly Health Hubs. Meet specialists, get information, make connections and get signposted 
  4. Online Health Community. Meet practitioners and specialists, find out information, ask questions all from home or work.

How will it work?

Starting in September... initially bi-weekly... the South West Herts PHS (People's Health Service) will be operating in a local venue (TBA, but something like a local coffee shop). The idea is to make preventative care far more accessible to us all.

An electronic diary will be made available and shared so that specialists intending to make themselves available can do so. These will be hourly slots. People wishing to meet specialists can then come along at a time when they know someone will be there who can help them. All these information / signposting services will be offered for free.

We Need You!

This is a collaborative co-creation initiative. It's our chance to start helping each other. If you would like to get involved in helping this launch then please do get in touch via Email :

All those who offer services aligned to the Health & Wellness industry are invited to participate (contact will be made during August) with the initiative. If you want to make contact and get ahead then do Email : 2 dates will be announced during August where anyone interested to find out more can come along. Those dates will be announced very shortly.

Summary of Services

  • Regular meetings 'Get Health' days (weekly over time)
  • Connect with a wide range of local health professionals
  • Access throughout the day
  • Online community to continue questions and conversation

    For local health professionals
  • Raise the awareness of how your services can be part of preventative care in the community
  • Get Found: Local Health & Wellness services directory (free to use)
  • Chance to meet local people in a non-pressure environment

Additional Colateral

Special Services being made available

There are some 3 million diabetics in this country and a conservative estimate of 2 million+ walking around undiagnosed. HBA1C is the most effective test for Diabetes and also to monitor that the condition is being managed effectively.

HBA1C testing has been severely cut via the NHS with type 1 diabetes sufferers receiving only 1 test per year and type 2 patients even less.

As part of 'taking responsibility' for our health we will be offering low cost HBA1C testing with hospital quality machine and other tests (over time) right into the community at these events. This enables anyone with the condition to obtain tests when it suits them as often as they wish.

If you are involved in any of the areas below (not exclusive to these)... or any complementary area... then please do get involved...

Nutritionists, weight loss consultants, Homeopathy, Essential Oils, Acupuncture, Chiropractors, Osteopaths, Energy workers (Reiki, Crystals, Sound, Magnotherapy), Massage, Amatsu, Mindfulness, Meditation, Yoga, Pilates, Fitness, Exercise (Gyms / Spinning / Zumba), Hypnotherapists, Counselors, Psychiatrists, Life Coaches, First Aid specialists, Alexander Technique specialists

also... anyone involved in Charities such as Age concern, Alzheimers, Dementia, Stroke Support, Cancer, Diabetes, Heart, Disability, Family support, Children, are more than welcome to participate.

The more information we can collate and make available through an easy to access online portal the better. People will be on hand during the PHS 'Get Health' days to share how to find the information / connections you need too.

Watford Homeless Project

There are so many good causes and charities… what makes helping the homeless one of my interests?

Many years ago, when I was training to be a teacher in Manchester, it happened to me. Luckily, the council were successful in forcing the landlord to overturn their decision, and, as it happened just before the Christmas holidays, my family could take me in while I found another flat for the next term.

I’ve always had asthma, and the damp and cold top floor of the townhouse in Heaton Moor was acerbating the problem. I love the vibe of Manchester, but anyone who has ever lived there will tell you that it never seems to stop raining!! The rest of the country will be in glorious sunshine, but not the Mancunians I’m afraid! In these conditions, I caught a nasty chest infection and, feeling weak and not having a telephone (this was in 1993, so no mobiles!) I considered walking to the telephone box 20 minutes away to make the call to my university, to explain that I wouldn’t be coming in.

The landlord had a phone on the landing, one floor down. I would certainly have asked permission first, but thinking that everyone was at work, I used their phone to make the call. The landlady (I think she was called Val, but it was so long ago I’m not certain) caught me in the act. She went ballistic and screamed at my partner and I, telling us to get out right away. Frightened, the two of us grabbed what we could and were literally thrown out on to the street.

It’s hard to believe, as the Ruth of today would not have been so easily intimidated! To cut what could be a long story short, the council intervened and explained to the landlady that she was breaking the law, that we had to be allowed to see out our tenancy and access our belongings.

When I see the rough sleepers of Watford, I can easily see how one or two wrong turns in your life can send you on to the wrong path. There is no doubt that I shouldn’t have used the phone without permission, and I’m sure that many homeless people would also recognise that they have made mistakes. Sometimes these mistakes snowball, one bad decision leading to another and another.

In my work with the Watford Homeless Project I have had the opportunity to hear their stories; sometimes stories that start out like mine, but these don’t have such a happy ending. Some of the community have had successful careers, families and the trappings of financial success. It is hard to comprehend, but that guy you see begging on the street in dirty clothes has at times run businesses, and could probably knock your maths skills into a cocked hat – even when he is blind drunk!

They all have an interesting story to tell. The next phase of L4G outreach work (Watford Homeless) is going to be to hear their stories, to listen, understand and hopefully through sharing and communicating with the community, to help them to heal. That said, not every rough sleeper is looking for change, to be fixed, or for charity; whilst I will continue with practical support (e.g. fundraising) I believe that this venture is about developing a mutual understanding between us all, and a different sort of change.

L4G’s strapline is ‘What if we knew you?’ What if we knew more about the people in society who only make themselves visible in shop doorways and night shelters? What if we knew their stories, your stories…. our stories? 

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Amazing results in SW Herts for Park week with 11 Green Flags... BUT!

Woodside playing fields
We are blessed with having some amazing green spaces in our area. In recognition for keeping the parks in prime condition for the community to use there are awards. These are Green Flag awards.

This year we have received this prestigious award for 11 green spaces :-

Cassiobury Park, Woodside Playing Fields, Cheslyn House and Gardens, Waterfields Recreational Ground, Callowland Recreational Ground, North Watford Playing Fields, Oxhey Park, St Mary’s Churchyard, Goodwood Recreation Ground, Paddock Road Allotments and North Watford Cemetery.

Cassiobury Park - Water park & Community Hub
The reporting of this amazing achievement has been widespread (in the Watford Observer, and on the council's own website) The credit for the achievement has been awarded to two organisations. Deputy Mayor Peter Taylor (Portfolio holder for client services at the council) has congratulated the council (themselves) and their contractor Veolia for the outstanding work they had done (paid for work mind) that both these organisations have undertaken on our behalf.

It's great that these awards have been given and that our parks are of excellent quality for all of us to enjoy however... let us not lose sight of the fact that they are 'self congratulating' for actually doing their job. This is indicative of a much wider issue that we experience in many aspects of our lives today where we are pleasantly surprised and give awards out for people who actually provide the service they are being paid to do...

Sandy Belloni - cleaning the river in Oxhey Park
In two of the above situations namely Oxhey Park, and Paddock Wood... the most important contributor to the success has been sadly overlooked and omitted. That of the very humble +sandy belloni. Sandy is well known in the area for the tireless hours he puts in at Oxhey Park (with many local volunteers) and also as a key member in the Paddock Woods Allotment Association.

Sandy runs a Facebook Group Friends of Oxhey Park and you only have to look through the posts to see the tremendous energy, enthusiasm and commitment Sandy puts in... wait for it... for little or no reward whatsoever. It's easy to do a good job if you're being paid for it. Sandy does most of what he does for no money and... he helps local young adults gain experience through providing a valuable community service. Veolia would not be able to keep this park up to scratch if it wasn't for Sandy telling them what needs doing... where the graffiti is... what needs sorting out down there...

And yet... everyone knows what a contribution Sandy makes and no one even thought to mention him. This is not an over sight... it is much worse (in my opinion).

Peter Taylor (Deputy Mayor) wrote on the FB Group for Oxhey Park
You are right. I should have have thanked Sandy and the work of all our Friends groups. Apologies for any offence caused. I know that the Green Flag assessors were particularly impressed with the community involvement in our parks.
I for one am very pleased that the Green Flag Assessors were impressed with the volunteers... so impressed they never mentioned them at all...

It is this default mode of the council thinking we're here to give them position and power... rather than they are here to serve their community... that could be partially responsible for the mess we're in today.


Jobs Fair on September 1st... could you help?

Watford - Jobs Fair - Banqueting Suite Watford
The Watford Jobs fair which was initiated by +Richard Harrington (local MP) is being held once again at the Banqueting rooms in the high street (near the overpass) on the 1st September. In what has become an annual event in the town diary it provides a fabulous opportunity for local people to connect directly with potential employers in the area and vice versa.

For more information about the Jobs Fair please take a look at the website here.

Can you help?

There are a number of ways that you might be able to participate

  1. If you run a business and are looking for people why not exhibit there (it's free, visit the website above for further details)
  2. If you are looking for work come along and meet other people who may have job opportunities or at least make some new connections, or just get some new ideas
  3. The Job Centre will be there and are looking for volunteers to do Mock Interviews and / or help with CV writing throughout the day

Job Centre volunteering

Hema Pandya our local Watford based BITC Connector (Business in the community) is working with the Job Centre and looking for a number of volunteers from businesses to support them on the Friday 1st September at the Jobs Fair.

They would like volunteers to carry out mock interviews or provide CV advice to individuals attending the event that are looking for employment. Not only is it a great opportunity to support local people either get into work or seek new employment, its a fantastic opportunity for employees to develop coaching and interviewing skills.

The Jobs Fair runs from 10am to 4pm and will have over 60 employers exhibiting. Last year over 4,000 people attended. The mock interviews and CV advice sessions were hugely popular last year and we know they are going to be well received this year. As such, we would need volunteers to commit to at least three hours of their time or ideally the full day. CV coaching sessions are approximately half an hour long, and mock interviews run for around 45 minutes.
Hema Pandya

Want to help? 

If you would like to go along and be part of this initiative in Watford then please make contact with Hema directly, her contact details are below...

Hema Pandya      
Business Connector Watford  Business Connectors Programme

twitter: @HemaConnects

Thursday, 6 July 2017

NHS Nascot Lawns children's respite centre under threat

So why is it that it always seems that the most vulnerable are hit time after time?

We all know money is tight... but it is a complete misnomer that there is 'no money'. When the money is needed for things that are 'found out' to be wrong... like fire prevention on tower blocks, money which wasn't available suddenly arrives.

However when there isn't the opportunity to gain public votes... when it isn't an emergency... when the people who it effects are unable to defend themselves and it basically hurts the vulnerable in society... the money is NOT AVAILABLE. Doing the right thing 'when no one is watching' seems to be very absent in those that would have us believe are looking after our best interests. Whatever happened to integrity?

If you wanted to look at this from a cynical perspective, here we have a a large property in significant grounds on a plot of land worth millions. We have a remit for all public service providers to save, save, save. In this instance there is not only a saving but the very real prospect of a large cash injection to boot. A double whammy.

What happens to the families? ... 

well the other support services will have to pick up the slack. Really? How will they be seeking additional funding for the increased work and skills required? ... is this a case of, well it's off my spreadsheet, I'm not bothered where it goes at least I've shown some savings in my area? ... and by the way do I get a bonus for finding that cash injection for the one off sale of a community asset?

What of the increased care required for the parents, already at breaking point and surviving with the promise of that tiny piece of respite once in a while. What of the siblings who get precious little of the parents time already... what of the rest of the family members who see loved ones crumbling under the strain... what of them?

Is this not just a complete false economy anyhow?  Has no one even considered the implications. Was this just we have to make cuts, this is expensive, let's just tick that one shall we? ... Has no thought at all been put into the scale of devastation this decision will bring to so many in the borough.

All these parents and families are looking for is for some brave person 'with influence' to actually say. Hang on this isn't right. When everyone has been hammered with austerity measures (not discussing them here) for years and now... this is just one step too far. We have two very powerful individuals (as far as the existing system of governance is concerned) in Richard Harrington and Dame Dorothy Thornhill. If there was ever a time for these folk to show their true colours I would suggest that time just arrived.

Please take a look at the video below... an interview with Marlene Rhodes whose family depend on the services provided at the Nascot Lawn Day centre... there is a petition to sign at the end of this post if you haven't already done so... please sign it...