Westminster Libraries in Wellbeing mode

ClementinesJanuary has been a very busy time for the Health Information Project. We’re mindful that our customers, resolutely inspired in the New Year, rely on the libraries to provide them with foolproof plans for healthy pain free weight loss, hugely enjoyable exercise regimens and awe-inspiring biographies of celebrities who have abandoned trashy, selfish lifestyles and ditched bad boy/girl partners to glitter wholesomely (is that possible or is it an oxymoron?) on the 2013 altars of perfection. Well, we have done our best to look after our customers; there have been nine health information events so far this month.  Three of them were on a busy 24 January:

First I went to Paddington Library and found Ruth, from the Health Improvement Team, talking to a familiar looking customer. Ruth was running her regular Thursday health information stall, this time without partner Nadra  from the Wellbeing team. ‘Wellbeing’ is a term often used instead of ‘Mental Health’ now (as well as being applied to cereal packets, spas, zumba class promotion etc. – at least it makes people familiar with the term). They run a project together on the effects of exercise on mood and mental health issues such as depression. Ruth was talking to one of our computer tutor volunteers. A tall gentleman in his middle years who was celebrating a hundred days of not smoking!  He stops by the stall to chat to Ruth and Nadra every week and still takes a leaflet from the Stop Smoking Services even though he is no longer a smoker. “Well done!” I thought, and indeed I said out loud.

Ruth said after he had gone that it was very satisfying that the stall had set him on the path to being a non-smoker and that it was helping him stay one just by being there. When people first stop smoking there can be a lot of symptoms such as anxiety and it is well established that exercise can help.

I left Ruth at Paddington and went over to Maida Vale Library to find Marian from the Health Improvement Team, and Polly from the Smoke Free Homes Project putting out their leaflets and already chatting to one lady who had to put up with a home full of smoke because her teenage daughter was hooked.  Marian was also promoting healthy eating as a way of losing weight and so, to get into the spirit, I produced quite a lot of satsumas in a bowl. Satsumas are good at health events – great colour, easy to peel, easy to eat and so GOOD FOR YOU!

Nisha, Yannie and Kate at the Paddington Library health event

In the afternoon it was back to Paddington again for the drug and alcohol information event, plus massage from an NHS volunteer. The Westminster Drug Project is just round the corner from Paddington Library in the Harrow Road. We have set up an information event in partnership with them to run once a month.  It is aimed at anyone who is interested in know more about substance abuse and alcohol  problems and the ripple effect they have in the lives of sufferers. We have found the information is mainly taken up by family or carers.

On this day we had their outreach worker, Yannie and also Nisha from the Westminster Wellbeing service, Rachel from the NHS who specialises in alcohol information but also smoking and drugs and the fabulous Susi. Susi works for free at the Royal Free Hospital – she is a qualified masseuse.  She spent nearly three hours massaging the tension out of necks and shoulders at Paddington Library this afternoon.  The health providers had massages but none of the library staff as they were far too busy :-(.  I hope next month we can book them in. I served tea, coffee and biscuits with the saying “A little bit of what you fancy does you good” in mind!

[Kate]

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