Be a buddy and aid health boost

Volunteer Health Mentors Jennifer Evans and Jane Burdess have been giving out advice on living a healthier lifestyle at Blackpool Victoria Hospital

Volunteer Health Mentors Jennifer Evans and Jane Burdess have been giving out advice on living a healthier lifestyle at Blackpool Victoria Hospital

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A NEW health promotion scheme at Blackpool Victoria Hospital has been such a great success that bosses are on the lookout for more helpers.

The volunteer health mentors project, which began in January, has now seen more than 500 people local residents being helped and the hospital is now looking for more volunteers to meet the demand.

This “health buddies” scheme sees the health mentors supporting and encouraging those visiting or working in the hospital who want to improve their health through making changes to their lifestyle - such as more exercise or cutting back on drinking.

It is hoped the scheme can provide long-term solutions in reducing those illnesses and health problems caused - or exacerbated - by certain lifestyles.

The department is based at Information points at the Lancashire Cardiac Centre and the Main Outpatient Department at Blackpool Victoria Hospital.

Nicola Worrall, Health Education Practitioner at Blackpool Victoria Hospital, said the hospital was delighted with the level of interest in the scheme.

She said: “The Health Mentor role is an exciting new project which helps to support and encourage people who want to make improvements to their health and wellbeing.

“We have 15 volunteers trained in our four main topics; healthy eating, exercise, smoking and alcohol based at Information points at the Lancashire Cardiac Centre and the Main Outpatient Department at Blackpool Victoria Hospital.

“The feedback we have had has been excellent and we are now looking for more people who feel they could help us expand the service further.

“We are confident we will be able to get more volunteers.”

When people need information on giving up smoking, limiting their alcohol intake or on any other problem, the volunteers give them information to help them.

They can do this by giving them leaflets such as the “Guide to Food Labelling” and the “Eatwell Plate” to help people get a balanced diet.

Volunteers also have information guides for smoking and drinking to show how much money can be saved and how much a person’s health will improve after giving up smoking for up to 20 years, and how many units and calories there are in different types of drinks and measures.

They also hand out key chains showing the safe daily limits of alcohol for men and women and the units for beer, wine and spirits and pens and note pads with the number to call if people need information on any of the four topics.

The volunteers themselves have also felt the benefit of being able to help other people become more healthy.

Tony Winter is one of the volunteers and he attends two days a week.

He said of his efforts: “If someone wants to give up smoking or limit their alcohol intake, they can get information.

“You have to be sensitive and not just thrust a leaflet on to someone; you have to be aware that they are suffering.”

If you would like more information about how you can become a Health Mentor contact Nicola Worrall on (01253) 306480 or 303967.