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 projects and people in the region. After initially enquiring about local apprenticeship schemes, Christine Charles contacted the Kirklees project, Building Health Opportunities in Kirklees, about becoming a Community Health Champion. Christine took the project’s Healthy Eating Key Messages course and the Open College Network accredited Planning and Cooking for a Healthy Lifestyle. These gave her the skills and confidence to run Cook ‘n’ Eat sessions in the community, inspiring others to learn more about healthy eating. After taking another course, in supporting people who suffer from stress, anxiety and neurological conditions, Christine began running a Meditation and Relaxation Programme too.
In addition to motivating 70 others through her Cook ‘n’ Eat classes alone, Christine’s own physical and emotional wellbeing has improved markedly. Christine said, "My diet has changed for the better; for instance, I have learnt to reduce my salt intake. From eating more healthily I have noticed a change in my complexion and I no longer feel bloated.
"The Relaxation and Meditation course has helped me to be more relaxed and feel more positive in my thoughts and action, whilst Tai Chi has shown me how to breathe properly, which has resulted in not needing to use my inhaler as often as before."
Christine’s community work has also boosted her confidence and self-esteem. "I have gained skills I thought I would never have had the chance to learn. I hope that my story will inspire others to become more involved with community groups and to encourage healthy living activities."
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."