Obesity and unemployment – what’s the link?

We all know that the rise in obesity across Europe is a significant concern. But did you know that high levels of obesity often coincide with high rates of unemployment? A recent Gallup poll shows that the longer a person is unemployed, the higher the rates of obesity, with rates reaching up to 32.7% after a year or more of unemployment. 

14 organisations from across Southern England and Northern France have come together to tackle these two issues holistically via ASPIRE (Adding to Social capital and individual Potential In disadvantaged REgions). This €10 million Interreg VA Channel project has been awarded more than €7 million by the European Regional Development Fund and runs from September 2019 to February 2023. 

The challenge tackled by ASPIRE is reflected in local statistics: whilst the national unemployment rate in France is around 10%, the Hauts-de-France region is the worst affected at nearly 13%. Obesity rates there exceeded 20% in 2016, six percentage points above the French average. Equally, according to a UN report one quarter of British adults are obese, with levels having more than trebled in the last 30 years: 63.1% of people in South East England and 62.7% in South West England are overweight.

It’s clear to see that a worryingly high proportion of people are considered as being obese and overweight in these two areas and the highest levels are recorded in areas of high economic deprivation. An OECD report exploring the relationship between education & obesity states that “obesity tends to be more prevalent in disadvantaged socio-economic groups.” Whilst eating healthily can often seem unachievable on a budget, knowledge of how to cheaply grow and prepare fresh fruit and vegetables can make all the difference.

ASPIRE will give obese/overweight and/or unemployed people the tools they need to make healthier lifestyle choices and improve their employability. Current health and employment services rarely work together to tackle the issues as one problem, despite the evidence that they are linked. The project will encourage a “grow your own, eat your own, sell your own” ethos inspiring a new model, co-created using partner expertise in both fields. 

The model will holistically combine the necessary support to increase employability with access to local healthy food produce and consequent weight loss. The model will be implemented at 7 sites and using innovative technology to enable participants to improve their relationship with food and provide them with the skills and support they need to gain access to the employment market. 

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What is Interreg France (Channel) England? https://www.channelmanche.com

Interreg FCE is an EU programme set up to foster economic development in the south of the UK and north of France by funding innovative projects which have a sustainable cross-border benefit in the Programme’s eligible regions.

For more information please contact: Sophie McGannan, Project Manager, sophie.mcgannan@nhs.net 

Step By Step, an innovative model for improving men’s health

Sadly, it’s true – men are backwards in coming forwards in relation to their health, compared to women. The fact that men are less likely than women to visit a doctor – perhaps due to the old chestnut that society expects them to be strong – has a real impact on their health, meaning it’s harder to pick up on potential concerns, and help men maintain their wellbeing.

October 10th is World Mental Health Day, an opportunity to highlight this growing trends in poor mental health, and to raise  awareness about initiatives to improve men’s health and wellbeing.

‘Step By Step’ (SBS), a cross-border project co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund’s Interreg 2Seas programme, includes partners from France, Belgium and the Netherlands alongside those in Kent, Hampshire and West Sussex, and is currently testing an innovative model to support men and improve their social inclusion and wellbeing. SBS’s is primarily working with men at risk of social isolation and poor mental health or wellbeing. 

hd SBS builds on the concept of “men’s sheds”, which gives men the opportunity to share knowledge, skills, advice and their personal story through activities they choose to do together. In this “safe space” men gain self confidence and are supported to become more engaged with others, with some of them developing new personal and professional life projects. 

Inside SBS Sheds, men have access to peer-to-peer support to facilitate discussion, including on themes of health and wellbeing, which they may find harder to discuss with a doctor. This is supported by a network of local organisers and ‘Health Champions’ –  men  who can offer their peers advice on health and employment services, and where desired, direct them to the right service providers. 

Thomas Molloy,  from lead partner The Health and Europe Centre, is delighted to confirm that: 26 SBS Sheds are now up and running across all 4 countries, with a further 34 at an advanced stage of development. By 2021, we aim to have around 100 SBS Sheds supporting men across the 2 Seas area.”

“The Health Champions programme is already being delivered by trained Health Champions, and along with the Employment Model, which is well under development, it will reach all SBS Sheds during the coming year.”

CASCADE: Harmonia Village and Harmony House

Exciting things are happening for CASCADE (Community Areas of Sustainable Care And Dementia Excellence in Europe). The Interreg 2Seas co-funded project is providing a truly innovative approach to caring for people with dementia and one of the UK’s first ever dementia villages, Harmonia Village, inspired by the project’s Dutch partners, is being built in Dover by East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust – opening in autumn. 

A welcome event, held at Harmonia Village on the 26th September, was an opportunity for visitors to see the fantastic facilities and spend an afternoon full of music provided by the wonderful Priory Fields School choir. 

Harmonia Village

The following week, on the 4th October, Medway Community Healthcare opened its dementia guesthouse Harmony House in Rochester as part of the EU project. The 20-bed guesthouse in Pattens Lane, was officially opened in front of excited visitors and staff. Beds will be used by early onset dementia patients in need of respite care.

Harmony House: the journey so far

SHIFT sexual health survey

Living in Kent, Medway, East Sussex or Essex? Aged 45 or over? Please take part in our #SHIFTsurvey to help our partners develop sexual health services that are better adapted to the needs of over 45s: https://chichpscyh.eu.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_cColzBpuu8ilJK5

If you’re living in the Hauts-de-France region in France, please use this link to take the French version of the survey: https://chichpscyh.eu.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_3ZQGaBlMrAKdbVz

TICC project update

52 self-managed teams up and running across the three countries: TICC ✓

155 more in active preparation: TICC ✓

Excellent work analysing challenges from the three countries, and regularly discussing solutions across borders: TICC ✓

TICC (Transforming Integrated Care in the Community) was launched in July 2017 and, with this list of achievements, it’s well on its way to achieving its objective: a blueprint for successfully transferring innovations in social and health care from one country to another, directly benefitting staff and service users in the UK.

CASCADE: the launch of Harmony House

The CASCADE Model promotes a holistic, person-centred approach for people living with dementia to maximise independence and quality of life. Harmony House promises to provide guests with personally tailored support that meets their individual needs, whatever they might be. Our guesthouse will be run by highly-trained staff who are committed to making even the shortest of stays a positive experience.

On 4 October Medway Community Health will officially launch Harmony House, and you’re invited! As part of this grand opening, they will offer tours of the brand new guesthouse; the opportunity to talk to staff about the service and facilities available; and additionally, the chance to pop into the ourZone open day on-site and find out more about activities and opportunities.

To find out more, go to: https://www.medwaycommunityhealthcare.nhs.uk/our-services/a-z-services/cascade

Perinatal mental health issues: PATH & NHS

Our Interreg 2Seas PATH project is working to raise awareness of, destigmatise and prevent perinatal mental health issues. Up to one in five women will experience a mental health problem in pregnancy, or the first year after birth, with up to three to five per cent experiencing a serious psychiatric disorder. 

As part of the NHS Long Term Plan, the NHS has committed to continued investment in perinatal mental health care for mothers and their partners who need specialist support during and following pregnancy.

NHS England and NHS Improvement in the North are supporting health professionals to ensure that they have access to guidance and advice, so that women with, or at risk of developing, perinatal mental health issues are fully supported throughout pregnancy and following birth: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m9OSN9APkUQ&feature=youtu.be

Should we be renaming NCDs?

In honour of this week’s 2nd Global Week for Action on NCDs C3 Collaborating for Health have a quick survey for you and could use your expertise.

As you may know, there has been ongoing debate about the need to rename non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

Why a new name? The term NCDs has been criticised for being outdated, not descriptive enough, misleading, and unfitting for conveying the gravity of this number one killer in the world. 

There have been a few suggestions for alternative names, each with their pros and cons. As a ‘fun’ exercise this Global Action on NCDs week we’re reaching out to you, our creative network, to see if you can help answer our questions so we can collectively brainstorm a better term for NCDs.

TICC: Latest news

Our Interreg 2Seas TICC (Transforming Integrated Care in the Community) project is working to create systemic change in health & social care, providing services that are better suited to our ageing population by addressing their holistic needs. This is being tested via the implementation of the Buurtzorg integrated care at home model which consists of self-managing teams of 12 staff working at neighbourhood level handling every aspect of care & business.

All 8 delivery partners (including 3 in the UK) have launched their first Buurtzorg-inspired teams, following last year’s successful learning process.

Many partners have already moved on to further teams, and are exploring other health/care settings to spread the word.

Alongside this, all teams and partners are contributing to the collaborative process around identifying and resolving the barriers and challenges to this new, self-managing approach.  French partners, in particular, have gained the ear of national bodies, and are seeking to change the frameworks which restrict the approach – and teams in the UK and Belgium are engaging with a view to influencing in a similar way.

PATH’s launch in Southampton with a Teddy Bears Picnic

Our EU-funded Interreg 2Seas PATH project, focusing on perinatal mental health, was launched on the 27th of August in Southampton. The project’s mascot in Southampton, Peri the PATH bear, was on hand to welcome families in the area to a Teddy Bears Picnic in order to raise awareness of and destigmatise perinatal mental health issues. The day was thoroughly enjoyed by all those who attended and was a great way to kick off the project that will run until September 2022.

For more information about the project, follow us on Twitter @2SeasPATH