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Thursday April 7th Is World Health Day. This year Brighter Futures are joining the World Health Organisation and others around the globe to celebrate the day and raise awareness of the importance of healthy living.
Brighter Futures employs over 220 people and provides housing and support to vulnerable people living in Stoke on Trent and Staffordshire. A key area of activity for each of the 21 different services it delivers is helping people improve and better manage their health and wellbeing.
Policy Director, Sarah Vernon said: “Many of the people who use our services have poor physical health as a result of their life experiences or circumstances such as sleeping rough, addictions, learning disability or mental ill-health. When people come to us for help they often tell us they haven’t seen a GP or had their health checked for years.
In the last 12 months Brighter Futures has helped over 2,000 people use health services and live healthier lives. This is particularly significant considering that the people we work with are more likely to develop health problems and die younger than people in the general population.
For example someone with a learning disability is 2.5 times more likely to have a health problem than other people, the average age of death for a homeless man is 47 compared to the 77 in the general population. Serious mental ill-health can reduce life expectancy by 10-20 years, the same impact as heavy smoking.”
The theme for World Health Day this year is diabetes. We are raising awareness amongst staff and customers by giving out information leaflets and encouraging people to think about their health and whether or not they may be at risk of diabetes or already have the condition and could better manage it.
Diabetes is a chronic condition that can lead to cardiovascular disease, blindness, kidney failure, loss of limbs and loss of life. A large proportion of diabetes cases are preventable: simple lifestyle measures have been shown to be effective in preventing or delaying the onset of Type 2 diabetes. Maintaining a normal body weight, engaging in regular physical activity and eating a healthy diet can reduce the risk.
David, a Brighter Futures tenant for the last 10 years, has Type 2 diabetes. He said: ‘I have had diabetes for 8 years. Having diabetes has made me much more aware of my diet, what’s good and bad for me. I know it’s good to exercise regularly so I walk everywhere I need to.
‘Being supported by Brighter Futures means that I have somebody to talk to regularly about the condition, who helps me to organise and attend appointments with my diabetes nurse. It takes the stress away from doing it myself.’
Physical activity is important and can help to reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes. Through a partnership with Stoke City Community Trust, Brighter Futures has its own football team who meet every Wednesday.
Andrew became a Brighter Futures customer after he had a breakdown, he said: ‘As soon as I heard about the Football Team I wanted to get involved as I have always been a keen sportsman and footballer. I have come along to every single session and have really enjoyed watching it grow with more people joining in.’
Brighter Futures customer Michael, who regularly attends the American Clubhouse in Burslem has been part of the football team for over a year. He said: ‘Since I have been going I have made new friends and I enjoy it because it helps me to keep fit.’
Brighter Futures Support Worker Oliver said “the football team is great way of encouraging people to enjoy themselves whilst getting some exercise. The group is popular – we started with a couple of people and now at least 10 people come along every week.”
To find out more about the World Health Organisation and World Health Day visit http://www.who.int/campaigns/world-health-day/2016/en/
To find out more about Brighter Futures support services please call 01782 406000 or go to http://www.brighter-futures.org.uk.
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