The beating heart of your community (Why libraries are good for your health, part 3)

There has been a packed programme of health events happening in Westminster Libraries over the past month – alongside regular events there were quite a few topical events to tie in with various awareness weeks.

Living Well with Dementia: The Westminster Guide 201319-26 May was the 2013 Dementia Awareness Week and Paddington Library hosted a very well-attended talk from the Kensington, Chelsea and Westminster Memory Service on ‘Understanding Dementia’. There is sometimes confusion as to the difference between ‘dementia’ and ‘Alzheimer’s’ and people can hurl either at anyone who seems a bit forgetful. Dementia in all its forms seems to be on the increase and it is worthwhile getting hold of a copy of the ‘Living Well with Dementia’ guide (a new version for 2013) which has been painstakingly put together by Jasmine Scott, Dementia Advisor

Health information, craft and free massage at Paddington Library, June 2013

Paddington Library hosts very successful and increasingly popular community health events on the last Thursday of each month. May’s event offered information on drug and alcohol services from the NHS Health Improvement Team as well as free tea, coffee, massage sessions and a lively craft session. June featured the Stroke Association taking people’s blood pressure, the NHS Health Improvement Team discussing healthy eating and nine Time Bank volunteers holding a craft event next to the free massage sessions. Tea and coffee were donated to the public by a private donor, and more than 50 people took part.

Aderonke Kuti with diabetes information at Queen's Park Library, June 2013Even the weekends have their share of health events in Westminster. Queen’s Park Library was the venue recently for a very fruitful and lively partnership between Family Learning and the Health Information Project in the form of the Black and Ethnic Minority diabetes charity BEMDA. Aderonke Kuti brought information and resources to explain the differences between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes to the families who had signed up with the brilliant Micki Garvey for her recycled toys and stories session. It seemed to work so well because the whole family were involved. The idea is that older children can become Diabetes Champions and spread the word among their fellows.

For Carers Week 2013 (10-16 June) there was another health event at Queen’s Park Library – the bunting was up, the balloons were outside the library for a Carers Information event. The Westminster Carers Network teamed up with the Falls Prevention Service (Carers Week was immediately followed by Falls Awareness Week!) to make information available to the large number of carers in the Queen’s Park area. Charities Diabetes UK and Prostate Cancer UK also had stands and the whole event was well attended.

Last week saw a Well Wednesday Diabetes awareness event at Church Street Library, run by the NHS health improvement team and a dynamic volunteer from Diabetes UK

Pre-Ramadan diabetes advice at Church Street Library, June 2013The ladies offered healthy eating tips and lots of information on preventing type two diabetes and/or living with Diabetes, type 1 and type 2. The session was held as the second of a two-part pre-Ramadan special at Church Street Library. Ramadan is when Muslims fast for a lunar month – no food or water passes their lips during daylight hours. Sometimes this can lead to some very unhealthy gorging during the night time period; thinking they are stocking up, people overload their bodies with carbohydrate and risk developing type 2 diabetes. 

Josefine the ‘volunteer’ Jack Russell, is due at the Westbourne Dementia hub for a demonstration of her ‘shaking hands’, ‘lying down’ and her new talent ‘dancing’ (though only backwards) – she will promote library services and has a special volunteer badge… pictures to follow.

Can anyone doubt that libraries are good for your health in a very obvious way?  Coming soon ‘the hidden therapeutic value of your library’!



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