Last week was an action packed week for Health Information: six events took place in five sites. It was World Mental Health Day on Monday 10 October, followed by World Arthritis day on 12 October, and Westminster Libraries decided to take the opportunity to encourage Westminster residents to think about their health.
Two weeks ago I started the ball rolling by livening up the Health Information Stands in seven of the ten library sites with fruit and flowers. Waitrose, who are keen to support community projects, donated a lot of the fruit for displays and the events that followed.
The first site to host an event was Queen’s Park Library who held a workshop on Monday 10 October entitled ‘The Calm Breath’. This was the first of the four ‘Peace of Mind Events’ marking World Mental Health Day, encouraging the community to seek relief from the strains and stresses of everyday life. Calming herbal teas were served with refreshing plates of fruit. A Health Champion from Health Trainers was on hand to promote their absolutely free one-to-one health improvement service, Gemma from the Carers Network in North Westminster brought information for carers and NHS practitioners from the wellbeing teams joined in as Tim, from the British Wheel of Yoga, led a large group of Open Age members and other library users in a gentle breathing practice.
Comments from the feedback forms included ‘It was very good and relaxing’… and to the question ‘Did you learn anything new?‘ came the answer ‘Libraries stocking books‘… I presume the person meant books on health topics, and specifically books on relaxation!
The next day Pimlico Library assigned their Quiet Room to a ‘Mindfulness’ session with Sud who is a doctor just about to take his Masters Degree in Mindful CBT. It was very well attended with a group from the nearby Gordon Hospital asking Sud to explain his work in depth. This he did and gave a very calming and informative talk followed by a practice involving looking at a raisin in an entirely new way! Most people ate the raisin immediately, but after another go we all found the raisin exercise extremely enlightening. More delicious herbal teas and grapes in individual cups added to the morning and there was a good response from the attendees. Comments included ‘I am studying health and Social Care and I found the topic interesting’ and ‘The Raisin experience’ was new to another participant. All the people who attended on Tuesday were very impressed with Pimlico Library.
On Wednesday there were two information stalls: one at Paddington in the morning and one in the afternoon at Marylebone. Frances from Arthritis Care was available to help people to find out about all the different kinds of arthritis, she was supported by Health Champion Sviatlana from Health Trainers who was there to give advice on diet and exercise. Frances is going to send one of her colleagues from Arthritis Care to do a talk in the very near future.
The next day was the fourth ‘Peace of Mind’ event at Paddington Library. This was more of an information based event, with three tables for health professionals from the NHS Wellbeing Team, Carers Network, Health Trainers and Elizabeth from WELDIS (Westminster’s information website for elderly and disabled people). The teams chatted to customers as they popped into Paddington Library and most expressed surprise and satisfaction that so many services were available through their local library.
The last ‘Peace of Mind’ event of the week was at Church Street Library on 14 October. This was a ladies-only event and was multilingual. Christine took us through a meditation which was translated into Arabic and Bengali; there were Somali speakers present also. The main core of this group was formed from Mahbuba’s regular English Speaking Group at Church Street. There were refreshments and chat and great hilarity as well as moments of great calm and peace. Westminster’s NHS partners were well represented and also Monica from the local Neighbourhood Centre. Members of other library groups attended such as the Paddington and Maida Vale Shared Reading Groups. It was a great way to end a very fruitful week.
We are now planning some health events with the family learning team. The first taster event is to take place in Paddington Children’s Library on 27 October. Health and Play is the working title!