17 March 2022 – VAI Health & Wellbeing Network Meeting Outcome


A round-up of this month’s meeting for anyone who couldn’t make it. Please see a brief summary of each agenda item and a reminder, we have an exciting agenda for next month’s meeting which you can find and register for here.

1. Back to Health – Speaker (Ken Hettiarachi)
Ken spoke of creating a new project in Islington aimed at tackling the most pressing health conditions in the borough, specifically targeting diabetes due to its prevalence and often misunderstanding. ‘Back to Health’ would offer healthy lifestyle workshops to residents including nutrition, healthy shopping, exercise and meditation and cooking classes. A call out was offered to any members who could offer a venue, surplus food and willing community members who may require this type of training and education. Ken provided his contact information for any referrals or assistance –

2. Talk for Health – Speakers (Bea Fernandez & Paul Thurlow)
Operations Manager, Bea, spoke of Talk for Health’s upcoming event taking place next Thursday 24th March. Talk for Health’s monthly Special events are an opportunity for anyone in the community to come along, learn something new, and experience talking for health. The March Special will be led by Nurse Consultant and serial entrepreneur, Cerdic Hall. In this session, attendees will be introduced to the narrative therapy inspired Tree of Life approach and how you can use it to build connection, clarity and hope in diverse communities. A list of all of Talk for Health’s upcoming trainings, meetings and events can be found here.

3.Vaccine Rollout & Covid Update – Speakers (Navinder Kaur & Jonathan O’Sullivan)
To properly inform the group on the latest Covid statistics for Islington, Navinder shared the latest video from Public Health’s borough Director, Jonathan which you can watch here. Main updates are as follows: Testing – Free access for most groups ends 31 March, Testing for more vulnerable groups, Testing in specific, vulnerable settings (healthcare, residential care, special schools, prisons). At home PCR tests for clinically vulnerable. Vaccinations – Spring boosters available for 75+, 12+ clinically vulnerable, 5-11s offer. Navinder also mentioned the work some VCS organisations are doing, including St. Luke’s community centre, Holloway Neighbourhood Group, and The Light Project as well as various faith groups and the refugee migrant forum, all of which are using community organisers to have those community conversations around vaccine uptake. More information on this can be found here.

4.Stop Smoking Service – Speaker (Nina Job)
In  this update, Public Health’s Nina Job described the Stop Smoking Service and Camden and Islington’s current status as recommissioning and procuring the Breathe project. Breathe looks at holistic ways in which smokers can quit the habit and incorporates service users’ mental as well as physical health. Aiming to relaunch in 2023, Camden & Islington Public Health have launched a survey to hear from residents and service users on current stop smoking services and future need. They would like to hear views about what support is needed to help people stop smoking and might have worked for clients in the past. Here is the link to take part in the anonymous survey and be entered in a prize draw to win a £50 shopping voucher:

5.Mencap – Speaker (Jenny Jones)
New to the role, Community Connection Agent – Jenny Jones came to this month’s meeting to introduce herself and describe Mencap’s work in Islington. Jenny promoted the organisation’s upcoming community events, encouraging volunteering opportunities for those with a learning disability and connecting the local area. Next week’s events are as follows: Community Volunteering Launch Event– Islington Mencap 10am to 2pm on Thursday 24th March at St Luke’s Community Centre – register here.

6.Local Wellbeing Networks – Speakers (Navinder Kaur & Charlton Brown)
To round up the meeting’s agenda, Navinder and Charlton described the work on the Local Wellbeing Networks; a council funded project under the Fairer Together initiative aimed at connecting the council, statutory services, the VCS sector and residents in Islington. The main updates were the upcoming locality based meetings in the North, Central and South area of the borough whereby all types of community stakeholders can come together, meet and collaborate on local solutions to local issues. More on this can be found here . Additionally, there are 45 spaces on a free online training programme around Community Organising. 15 spaces are dedicated to each locality area with the aim being a diverse, representative mix of participants ranging from VCS colleagues, council representatives and engaged residents (with a priority on lived experience). More information about the training offer can be seen here.


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