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Keeping Hampshire healthy

As Director of Public Health, I am passionate about improving the health of Hampshire residents. Now that my team are part of Hampshire County Council, we are focusing on delivering the priorities of the Joint Health and Wellbeing Strategy in partnership with our colleagues across the Council, NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups, district and borough councils, NHS England and voluntary and community groups.

For me, it’s important to think about the different stages in our lives and how what we do influences our health over time. For example, how our parents feed and interact with us as infants and small children influences our adult employability and subsequent health outcomes. Being physically active throughout life is hugely important. Our priorities for supporting adults are about helping them to be in work and staying mentally and physically well through: not smoking, drinking alcohol sensibly, regular exercise and accepting a free NHS Health Check invite (40 to 74 year olds), as well as then taking up advice and treatment that may result from the health check.

Hampshire has a generally healthy population, but pockets of significant deprivation can result in some people living shorter lives with more illness during their lives. Addressing this is a core aspect of all our work with the Health and Wellbeing Board partners and others. In this edition of Hampshire Now, find out more about some of the initiatives and projects which are helping to improve the health and wellbeing of local people.

Dr Ruth Milton

To find out more about health and wellbeing in Hampshire, visit:

Making healthy choices

Little girl playing with hoops

Families have been having fun while learning about healthy eating and exercise thanks to the MEND (Mind, Exercise, Nutrition...Do It!) programme. Commissioned by our Public Health team, and coordinated by Sport Hampshire & IOW, the free, interactive group sessions promote healthy eating choices and exercise. The programme explains food labelling, different types of food, how much you need to eat, and fun ways to be active as a family.

Over the past year, sessions have been held across the county in Basingstoke, Gosport and Test Valley. Courses are planned for the rest of the county from this spring. Most programmes are aimed at children aged 5-7, but some areas also run sessions for older children.

One mum who knows the value of MEND is Rachel Fisk from Gosport. Rachel and her six-year old daughter Lily attended sessions at Bridgemary School run by the Gosport School Sport Partnership.

“I had trouble saying no to Lily and was giving her portions of food which were too large for her to keep a healthy weight,” said Rachel. “Lily enjoyed taking part in the physical activities with other children and trying different healthy foods. It helped me as well. I know more about food, including what the power foods are and about exercises we can enjoy together.”

A 10-week programme for older children aged 7-13 is currently underway in Gosport.

For information about local programmes, visit the MEND website at or go to the healthy weights website at

Half the woman she used to be but twice as happy!

Kim Freshwater is less than half the woman she used to be and a national slimming champion thanks to a slimming referral programme commissioned by Hampshire County Council.

Kim Freshwater after slimming

Kim weighed nearly 29 stones and her size stopped her playing a full part in family life. She used to avoid being photographed and it even prevented her attending the funeral of her uncle as she knew she wouldn’t be able to manage the walk from the church to her uncle’s graveside. Kim decided she had to do something about it and went to see her GP, who referred her to weight loss support available through the Slimming on Referral Weight Management programme commissioned by our Public Health team.

The programme supports around 2,000 people a year, helping them to get to a healthy weight with 12 weeks free membership to a weight loss support programme. Over half of those referred lose at least 5% of their initial bodyweight over the course of 12 weeks, significantly improving their health. Kim went to her local Slimming World group, and paid to continue after the initial free 12 weeks. So far 4,637 people in Hampshire have been referred to a Slimming World group through the scheme. In total, Kim lost a whopping 17st 5lbs and is delighted with the support she received. Her fantastic effort also resulted in her being crowned Slimming World’s Woman of the Year 2013.

Kim said: “The initial 12 weeks was a great start. It enabled me to focus on my goaI, with the support of people who felt like me. I set myself mini targets of ½ stone at a time and enjoyed adjusting my family’s favourite meals so they were cooked in a healthier way. You aren’t on a diet – it’s more a way of life. Before I lost weight I wasn’t living, I was existing. Now I’m so happy – I’m living life to the full, taking part in days out and activities with my family instead of watching them have fun without me. I’ve even taken part in a 350ft abseil down the Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth – nothing can stop me now!”

To see if you meet the criteria for the Slimming on Referral Weight Management programme, ask at your GP practice.

TOP TIPS for healthy living

  • Eat five portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables each day. Or even if you are, try to eat one or two more portions per day as a challenge.
  • Thirst can be mistaken for hunger – try to drink eight glasses of fluid a day, more if you are exercising, and avoid fizzy drinks if possible.
  • Cut down on saturated fat – trim visible fat from meat, avoid processed meat products such as sausages and pies and keep cakes, biscuits and pastries to a minimum.
  • Aim to be active for at least 150 minutes a week – just 20-30 minutes a day of moderate intensity activity will keep you on target. Moderate intensity activity will raise your heart rate and make you breathe faster and feel warmer. One way to tell if you’re working at a moderate intensity is if you can still talk, but you can’t sing the words to a song. You can do this in chunks of 10 minutes at a time.
  • Think about your day or week ahead and work out when you can spend a little time being active. Try making a weekly plan – it will help you see where you can fit being active in more easily. Activity doesn’t have to be structured or expensive. Taking up a sport or joining a gym or classes offer great opportunities to get fit, but there are also loads of fun, easy ways you can get more active for free. Visit get fit for free for more ideas.
  • Visit change4life for ideas of food and drinks swaps you can make, which means that you can lose weight and feel healthy without giving up all the things you love.

Winning project

FACES training programme

“FACES was funny. I was nervous at first, because for many years I didn’t speak and this was the first time I had talked in front of a large group of strangers. Afterwards I felt happy and proud.” That was the verdict of Jake, a young adult with learning disabilities who has been involved in a unique training programme to help support people with learning disabilities. The FACES (Friendship, Assertiveness, Choice, Empowerment and Social Skills) pilot project uses pictures, signing games and feeling boards, helping people gain confidence and the skills to communicate their choices and express their thoughts and feelings. It won the ‘Putting People First’ category in the Great South East Care Awards and is now through to the national final of the British Care Awards which take place this April and June. Jake, and other adults with learning disabilities, helped design the training and were actively involved in commissioning and delivering the scheme, working closely with County Council staff and external training provider and speech therapist, Alex Kelly, known for her work with people with learning disabilities. Around 50 adults with learning disabilities are already being supported by the programme.

For information about our Learning Disability Services visit:

Independent living

Adult social care in Hampshire is changing, so that more people can live independently in their own homes for as long as possible. Reablement services have been available for some time to people leaving hospital. From June this year, the County Council is expanding the service following a successful pilot project in Winchester where 50% of people who had reablement support did not need any further care. The new Reablement and Assessment of Care Team (REACT) will assess people referred to adult social care services to see if they need support to remain independent in their homes. Where appropriate, personal care and practical support will be provided for up to six weeks to help with confidence and independence.

Someone who already knows the value of reablement support is Pat, 84, from Winchester. She needed help after leaving hospital following a knee replacement operation. “I found the daily visits invaluable,” Pat said. “The carers were always encouraging, good fun and I was extremely grateful for their support. They helped me to get back into my routines at home and on with the next stage of my recovery. Retaining my independence is very important to me and they gave me the support, confidence and encouragement to do that.”

To find out more about services to help you live independently at home, go to our website: or call 0845 603 5630.

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Keeping Hampshire healthy and Making healthy choices

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Half the woman she used to be

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Winning project

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Independent living

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