Haringey Health Champions
What is a Health Champion?
Health Champions are highly skilled members of Haringey’s healthy lifestyle workforce who work in a volunteer capacity. They are committed to working closely with other service providers to deliver a seamless service for Haringey residents.
They work within the local community and raise awareness of:
- healthy living: eg to encouraging people to stop smoking, increase their physical activity, eat healthily and drink sensibly
- signs and symptoms of common conditions, such as diabetes and common cancers
They also signpost people to services, eg Health Trainer Service, Stop Smoking Service, primary care, mental health services and leisure services.
Health Champions receive ongoing training, support and regular supervision to enable them to carry out their role. They undertake their activities in a range of community settings, such as community centres, GP surgeries, shopping centres and at local events.
Health Champions make a real difference in the community. It is also an exciting opportunity to get to know the local community, to meet new people and to gain new skills, nationally recognised qualifications and work experience.
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Health Champion Story - Cheryl West
"My name is Cheryl, I’m 55 years old and have lived in Haringey since the age of 7, after arriving from the Caribbean with my parents. I have three children who were all born and went to school in the borough.
"For most of my working life I’ve worked within hospital and GP surgeries in administrative roles. I stopped working in 2004 when I became ill with mental health problems. I was fortunate in coming across a wonderful doctor with a passion for mental health, who provided me with lots of support and also referred me to the local Improving Access to Psychological Therapy (IAPT) service. Slowly but surely ‘I came back’. I took the plunge to return to work when I received a letter from the Inland Revenue telling me that I could retire at 65. I thought ‘wow I’ve only got 10 years left! I really need to get back out there’."
What attracted you to the Health Champion role?
"I became a Health Champion ‘by accident’. To be honest, I was not keen on the idea of volunteering initially as I had been out of work for some time and money was tight. I was attending college studying mental health and it was a requirement that I undertake voluntary work. HAVCO put me in touch with the Health Champion programme. To my surprise I really enjoyed it – 'I got my teeth into it'."
What does your role involve?
"Speaking to local people and raising awareness about health. I also signpost people to local health services where people can get support to make lifestyle changes. We attend various local events and are based in various venues, including surgeries, libraries, supermarkets and job centres. We also regularly team up with Tottenham Hotspur Foundation (THF) who deliver NHS health checks in the community.
"As a Senior Health Champion I also help to train and assist new volunteers. I like to see them flourish because when I started I was provided with a scaffolding until I felt confident for it to be gradually removed."
What have you gained from being a Health Champion?
"I have regained my confidence and am ‘back out there’. Engaging with the public, conveying important health messages, seeing their interest and knowing that I have something to offer them has boosted my confidence. I feel part of something, part of the community, a community that I have a strong connection with. Volunteering is very rewarding.
"The training I have received has been invaluable. I have gained several nationally recognised vocational qualifications. In addition, I am provided with regular supervision and through training, opportunities for ongoing development."
If you are interested in becoming a Haringey Health Champion, or if you would like Health Champions to attend your community event, please contact Deborah Saunders at One You Haringey:
Tel: 020 8885 9095
For more information on the One You Haringey service, please visit the One You Haringey website (external link).