Four years ago we started building a team of Health Buddies – now they are about to expand their role to work one-on-one with local people as Health and Wellbeing Buddies.
Health and Wellbeing Buddies are local residents with an understanding of their communities. They work with RedbridgeCVS raising awareness of a range of health and wellbeing topics like tuberculosis, latent tuberculosis, HIV, diabetes and domestic abuse. Buddies are employed on a paid
casual basis and hold awareness sessions in community settings like lunch clubs, voluntary groups, faith places, schools, colleges and libraries.
Redbridge is the fourth most diverse borough in London, and this gave us the opportunity to work with Buddies from different backgrounds and train them to improve the health of residents. They deliver sessions in community languages, which makes information accessible for people who don’t speak English as their first language.
The Health Buddy model has been a real success. An external evaluation by the University of East London found it to be “very effective” – researchers found that because of Health Buddies’ ability to link into existing community networks, they are able to reach more people than other ways of working. You can read the report at www.bit.ly/UELEvaluation and RedbridgeCVS’s report on the Health Buddies’ work at www.bit.ly/HealthBuddyReport
Expanding the work
We are now preparing to expand the Health Buddies’ role into a “Health and Wellbeing Buddy”. Buddies will work on a one-to-one basis with local residents who are affected by social isolation, low level mental health problems or diabetes. Buddies will support them in accessing local community services to improve their health and wellbeing. We will share more details of this “Social Prescribing” project at its launch on 5 July.
What Health and Wellbeing Buddies say
Buddies say that working on the projest has made a big difference for them. One of the Buddies said that the experience had had a “huge, huge impact on my life”. She said that “I was going downhill until I took this opportunity…” and now described herself as “thriving... It has had a huge impact on my health. Because when I was ill, I was at home sitting, on laptop… tired all the time… with HB something just clicked… I became more active… built up confidence, less depressed… more open.” Another Buddy explained that the training she received could be used in other areas of her life. She has already done a presentation to hospital consultants about the lessons she had learnt about TB – “I was standing in front of the consultants and presenting. And that was amazing. And when I went home, I told my daughters. And they said Mum you are doing well now (laughter and much smiling)”.
We’re delighted that the Buddies way of working has been such a success – both for Buddies themselves and, more importantly, for people receiving services. So we’re excited that our Social Prescribing project will develop the work further. We hope to see lots of you at the launch! For more information about our new service, contact Swati Vyas on 020 8514 9626 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
Social Prescribing Launch Event
1pm, Wednesday 5 July
5th floor, RedbridgeCVS Forest House, 16-20 Clements Rd,
Ilford IG1 1BA