This month Health Inequalities Volunteer James Evans met with Tracy Gibson the Community Development Worker at Tullibody Healthy Living. This is a voluntary based project who work in partnership with other agencies to provide access to many healthy living activities, as well as providing support on a personal level for the local residents. Tullibody Healthy Living focus on health inequalities and target their resourses to help reduce these in the local population through community development and reduction of isolation.
Tracy described Tullibody Healthy Living as the “one stop shop for community health”. This was apparent by the setup of the organisation. People will pop in and out to gain advice on varying issues regarding their health and wellbeing. The main point that came across when discussing health inequalities was the focus on the reduction of isolation and allowing people to reconnect with their community. Tullibody Healthy Living have many programmes in places which are doing exactly this. First of all there is the Fruit Barra. This was set up 8 years ago and is still running every Thursday morning, using the office front, which is changed into a Fruit Barra in order to sell fruit and vegetables to the local community. This helps promote healthy eating and brings the community together. This is a clear example of reducing isolation and creating healthier living actions. There are also four walks a week that are run by volunteer walk leaders through Tullibody Healthy Living. Walking groups help to reduce isolation and increase healthy living.
It is clear that Tullibody Healthy Living are doing some very positive work, however, like many voluntary organisations they are facing some challenges. First of all it is the challenge of reaching out to everyone in Tullibody. Many of the people living in the areas are not aware of all the services that can be offered to them. This is where the newsletter comes into play. This has been a very successful tool for Tracy and her team. They use the Youth Timebank to make sure this is put through every door in the area. There is a feeling that this is more effective than the internet as many of today’s isolated people do not have access to the internet. Another challenge that is faced by Tullibody Healthy Living is that there is scope for closer collaboration with the local primary schools. Tracy stressed that education provided many positive theoretical messages on healthy eating such as The Keep Well Plate being sent throughout primary schools. However, young people’s report on school dinners do not always reflect the education they receive on healthy eating. In Clackmannanshire, the food is pre-cooked and brought in to be re-heated. Due to this set up Tullibody Healthy Living are unable to go into the school kitchens to promote healthy eating with school pupils. This prevents them reaching out to a younger generation who could prosper the most from learning about eating well.
In a time where funding is increasingly hard to come by for voluntary organisations Tullibody Healthy Living have been very innovative in creating new ways to promote healthy living. Their most recent project has led them to gaining a 10 year lease for a piece of land on St Bernadette’s school grounds. This piece of land is going to be used to grow their own fruit and veg for the Fruit Barra. This was brought about by a £150,000 grant from Scottish Government’s Climate Challenge Fund. The Tullibody garden project will employ a full time gardener, and invite the whole community to get involved to learn gardening skills and raise awareness of Scotland’s climate challenge priorities. Having this type of ongoing community led project will result in the community becoming more self-efficient, less isolated and learn new skills which could lead into work for some people through volunteering.
From meeting with Tracy it was clear that Tullibody Healthy Living have a clear commitment to delivering localised and personal support in order to reduce health inequalities. They are running many creative projects in order to create a local community that is less isolated and more self-sufficient.