Walk this way, you’re a winner... Herts scheme saluted at health excellence awards

Award winners at the 2015 Hertfordshire Public Health Conference.Teresa Heritage (left) and Dr Jane

Award winners at the 2015 Hertfordshire Public Health Conference.Teresa Heritage (left) and Dr Jane Crawley presenting Tony Bradford (right) and Matt Green from Hertfordshire Health Walks with their award - Credit: Archant

Outstanding projects which have improved the health and wellbeing of people in Hertfordshire were recognised at the 2015 Hertfordshire Public Health Conference.

Janis Feely of The Living Room

Janis Feely of The Living Room - Credit: Archant

The conference is run by Herts County Council and for the first time this year included an award ceremony.

Delegates had the chance to hear from each of the winners and select the overall recipient of the Dr Joan Crawley Excellence in Public Health Award, which went to Hertfordshire Health Walks.

Tony Bradford, who manages the Countryside Management Service which oversees the project, said: “We wouldn’t be where we are without the hundreds of volunteers that make the walks successful, so thanks go to them.”

And project officer Matt Green added: “We offer free local health-focused walks right across Hertfordshire. We are really proud that we are countywide, with 2,300 walks a year and 45,000 people taking part, so we set the standard nationally. We are proud of what we do will continue encourage people to come along and enjoy the free walks.”

Kaite Southall of The Priory School Hitchin

Kaite Southall of The Priory School Hitchin - Credit: Archant

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The other winners were Janis Feely from The Living Room charity, which helps addicts rebuild their lives from its base in Stevenage, the Mental Health Project at the county’s money advice unit, Michal Siewniak from Active East Herts and Katie Southall of The Priory School, Hitchin.

The awards invited nominations detailing the achievements of individuals and organisations who have demonstrated commitment, vision and passion in improving the health of the public and the winners were chosen by Councillor Teresa Heritage, County Hall’s cabinet member for public health and her deputy Councillor Fiona Hill.

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Councillor Heritage said: “By working collaboratively, Hertfordshire is considered to be one of the best public health partnerships in the country and the award winners show just some of the great work that goes on between the County Council, the 10 districts and boroughs, the Clinical Commissioning Groups, GPs, schools, the voluntary sector and more.

“The times ahead will be challenging, but we will continue to work together to protect and improve the health of the public in Hertfordshire.”

Janis Feely was nominated for her work with The Living Room, which she set up 15 years ago to help people who have recently left rehabilitation clinics for a variety of addictions. Those using the service say they feel loved, accepted and never judged, core Living Room values that have helped it have a positive impact on thousands of local people’s lives. She said: “I was amazed to be nominated and feel privileged to be part of the work in Stevenage and St Albans, as well as Hertfordshire in general. It’s just wonderful to be part of a recovery network.”

The Mental Health Project at Herts County Council’s Money Advice Unit was set up in June 2014 and was nominated for the impact it has had on residents’ wellbeing. The project employs four skilled advisors to support people with mental health problems to manage their finances and get the help to which they are entitled.

Team manager Shelia Bowles said: “I’m particularly proud that we’ve won our award because this is the Hertfordshire Year of Mental Health. We seem to have some tangible results and we’re really proud of what we’ve done.”

Michal Siewniak was nominated for his work on MOVE Week, which promotes the benefits of being active and participating regularly in sport and physical activity throughout Europe.

Michal has worked voluntarily with five other team members to co-ordinate events to ensure East Herts community and sports clubs are given as many opportunities as possible to be involved.

He said: “I’m delighted that the MOVE week initiative was nominated. MOVE week is a big European campaign that promotes sport and physical participation and a lot of work has been taking place in East Herts. I am pleased that we are one of the winners.”

Katie Southall, acting assistant headteacher at the Priory School in Hitchin, was nominated for her passion for improving the health and wellbeing of her students.

Last year Katie introduced a Youth Health Champions programme to provide peer support and promote important health messages such as how to manage exam stress. She said: “Thank you to Debi Roberts from Youth Connexions who nominated me. It’s fantastic because it means that the Royal Society of Public Health (RSPH) training that we deliver to the students has actually had some impact on them and the community as well, so it’s lovely to be able to come here and talk to people about what we have done and what the students have achieved.”

Alex Ferguson, a youth worker for Herts County Council, also won a special award from for her contribution to the transformation of Hertfordshire’s Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS).

For more information about health initiatives in Hertfordshire visit www.hertsdirect.org/healthinherts

The Dr Joan Crawley award is named after the first woman Medical Officer of Health in the United Kingdom. She lived in Hertingfordbury and worked in Hertford for 40 years, initially carrying out school medical examinations and being involved in family planning and well woman clinics. She later became the Medical Officer of Health for the Hertford Rural District and started working as a GP in 1972 where she stayed until she retired when in her 70s.

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