South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust is delighted to announce it is now hosting Altogether Better – a successful and ambitious approach to improving health outcomes regionally and nationally.
Started in 2008 with funding from the Big Lottery, Altogether Better was founded on the belief that ‘community health champions’ have the potential to make a significant impact on health inequalities. Now, building on four years’ experience, Altogether Better supports more than 17,000 community health champions to make a positive difference to the lives of their families, friends and communities.
Formerly hosted by the Yorkshire and Humber Strategic Health Authority, Altogether Better is now hosted by South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust; a successful foundation trust that provides mental health, learning disability and community services across Barnsley, Calderdale, Kirklees and Wakefield.
Steven Michael, chief executive of South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, said, "Through our new partnership, our organisations are looking to strengthen links with local communities as Altogether Better’s principles are closely aligned with the Trust’s own vision and values. Our shared intention is to develop a partnership which will establish the best possible future for Altogether Better. Equally, the Trust will benefit from Altogether Better’s knowledge and experience of community integration; supporting our mission of enabling people to live life to the full."
Altogether Better already supports many established projects in the region. Sarah Gyenge joined Calderdale Health Champions more than two years ago, becoming involved in many of the activities run by the project in her local community to encourage people to adopt an active lifestyle, eat more healthily and improve their emotional wellbeing. This has included designing and building a working model of a Friesian cow in order to educate people about where their food comes from.
Sarah and ‘Daisy’ have taken part in a number of local campaigns and events, including the Halifax Food and Drink Festival and Halifax Agricultural Show, showing children the source of their milk in a fun, hands-on way. Daisy can be milked like a real cow, whilst Sarah provides tailored information and activities for children and families, giving away sample pots of seedlings and activity sheets on growing fruit and vegetables.
Sarah, 56, from Halifax, said, "Being a community health champion has given me the chance to do more training and I’m meeting and helping different people and doing new things. For instance, I’ve been helping people with mental health problems, which is something new to me; I enjoy that and at the same time I’m getting more qualifications."
Alyson McGregor is the co-director of Altogether Better. She said, "Altogether Better is working to create new and meaningful relationships between patients and communities and health and social care organisations. Traditionally-funded services are only a small part of what people want and need; what people value is participation and relationships that sustain their sense of dignity and control. We want to design and deliver services that improve the quality of care, health and wellbeing: an ambition and passion we share with South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust. We look forward to our new partnership with the Trust and the change we can create together with patients and communities."