July 3, 2013
In 1999, the Lottery launched a major funding programme to establish Healthy Living Centres across the UK. Scotland’s share was £33.5m and 46 of these community based health projects secured funding. Although Lottery support eventually fell away, many communities refused to let their much prized community based health projects go the same way. More than half of the original projects still exist and they now have a national body. Health’n’Happy Development Trust is proof positive that there is life beyond Lottery funding.
by Amanda Hyndman, Rutherglen Reformer, Jun 26 2013
A revamped Rutherglen group has opened its doors for volunteers to consult on community-based initiatives and groups.
Since the move from Belmont Road to Rutherglen’s Aspire Building on Farmeloan Road last month, the Healthy ‘n’ Happy community development trust has gone from strength to strength in providing new and engaging facilities in the surrounding areas.
The trust was started as the local community health initiative, but has grown and developed way beyond the original remit, from its base in Whitlawburn.
The volunteer open days earlier this month served to demonstrate the new premises further and with the church space cleared, formerly used by the Rutherglen and Cambuslang Housing Association, there is now time for those instrumental in decisions, mainly volunteers, to deliberate on the way forward in its expansion and best use of space in the new building.
Despite the Aspire providing a hub of community activity, executive director Brendan Rooney explained that opportunities to volunteer are varied and dispersed over the local area.
He said: “We wanted to open up to our volunteers, to show the new premises and demonstrate what opportunities are on offer and what the organisation does as a whole. Healthy n’ Happy is a community-led organisation. We wanted to consult with volunteers and ask what they would like the space used for and to discuss the funds which would be needed to expand the space from two floors to three, so as to create a new community space for residents in Cambuslang and Rutherglen.
“About five to 10 per cent of what we do takes place in the main building, but in the past we have had 57 different venues. One of the initiatives running is the Infostation where volunteers provide public information about the services provided by Healthy n’ Happy as well as local health information on Thursdays from 9.30-11am in Rutherglen Health Centre.
“There are also several neighbourhood schemes who work together to make local areas better such as Springhall Community Action Group and Burnhill Community Action Group.”
Other voluntary groups include the Fruit Barra, which has been around for years providing affordable fresh fruit; the Den, an initiative allowing young peer educators to aid others with health concerns; and the popular Camglen Radio, which received its five-year community radio licence from Ofcom last year after much hard work to push the station into full-time broadcasting. Airing is expected to launch in spring/summer 2014 with a new state-of-the -art, purpose-built station set to be created soon.
Brendan continued: “This is the first of several open days. There will be openings for agencies and the public as a whole allowing those potentially interested in volunteering in to see the work we do here.”
“There are a few new initiatives. I am excited about the Re-Connect Project, connecting the elderly who may be isolated in the community with volunteers. Socialisation plays a big part in someone’s health. When they don’t have a family or outside contacts it can play a big part in that person’s health and it can take them longer to recover when out of hospital.”
One other big venture is the recently incepted Anti-Sigma in Mental Health Programme which has already proven popular.
Brendan said: “We had three full pages of volunteer contacts interested when out on Landemer Day.”
The NHS is playing a big part in aiding the trust with its projects. On the first open day, two non-executive NHS Board members joined volunteer focus groups and the volunteer board of directors, to gain insight into the role of health in the community. Sandra Smith and Michael Fuller, representatives of NHS Lanarkshire, stated that their time at the open day was valuable.
One widespread problem due to be tackled, drinking ,will be brought forward with the Thinking Differently voluntary programme, which seeks to look at the issues surrounding youth drinking problems.
Brendan said: “ We want to bring them together to deal with the stigma of drinking and youth and show the misconception that the problem is with the alcohol only.”
Anyone interested in the voluntary positions available should visit the website www.healthynhappy.org.uk or call 0141 646 0123.