The Centre showcases its Community Champions Project

Sir Liam Donaldson, the former Chief Medical Officer for England and a global leader in public health, visited Old Oak Community and Children’s Centre in October to learn more about the excellent work of the Community Champions programme.

Sir Liam had a discussion with two of Old Oak’s Community Champion volunteers about their role in encouraging local residents to lead a healthier lifestyle and how they effectively signpost people to local health-based services and offer support to access these. All Community Champions undertake a nationally recognised Level 2 Award in Understanding Health Improvement which helps them to understand health inequalities, the reasons they occur and what they can do to improve their community’s health.

One of the volunteers, Noralyn, explained how they have become the ‘go-to’ people in the neighbourhood when residents have health-related queries, and Maria, who is also a local child-minder, spoke to Sir Liam about how she provides information to parents about healthy eating and keeping their children active from an early age.

Sir Liam visit 1

Old Oak’s Champions have recently completed a baseline health survey in the neighbourhood and one preliminary finding is that 26% of adults questioned admit to being smokers. Sir Liam said: “I think it helps sometimes to have one thing in the middle of what you’re doing which you really fight for – your one thing could be to make yourselves have the lowest smoking prevalence in the country”.

Old Oak Housing Association’s Director, David Leach, said of the visit: “Sir Liam’s visit was a great opportunity for Old Oak to showcase its excellent Community Champions Project and over 50s Health Pilot, and to engage with LBHF’s Clinical Health Commissioning Team”.

The Old Oak project is one of five Community Champions hubs running in the boroughs of Hammersmith & Fulham, Kensington & Chelsea and Westminster. The Tri-borough Public Health Service is now looking to extend the scheme which Councillors want to see on many more estates with rapid expansion.

Councillor Marcus Ginn, Hammersmith and Fulham Council’s cabinet member for Community Care, said: “The Community Champions project is a shining example of how local people can be empowered to recognise and address some of their own particular challenges, reducing health inequalities while creating opportunities”.

For more information on the Community Champions, please visit the Community Centre’s website.