Carnforth hosts first Health Mela

Carnforth hosts first Health Mela

The National Forum for Health and Wellbeing, Rotary Cumbria and Lancashire & Carnforth High School hosted the first Carnforth Health Mela (Health Fair) on Saturday, 25th June 2016 at Carnforth High School, Kellet Road, LA5 9LS.

This event was particularly significant for NFHW in its fifteenth year of service to local communities, as it marks a key stage in extending our activities across the North West of England. Year on year ever increasing numbers of visitors have taken advantage of the friendly, informal setting of the Health Melas to access health information, advice and a wide range of health checks.

Report on the First Carnforth Health Mela

A community health fair held on Saturday, 25th June at Carnforth High School

Carnforth’s aspirations to become the healthiest town in Lancashire received a major boost on Saturday, June 25th. when the town hosted its first ever ‘Health Mela’. This unique festival, modelled on the South Asian tradition of community fairs was dedicated to the celebration and promotion of community health and wellbeing.

The idea for the event came from former Rotary Cumbria and Lancashire District Governor, Kevin Walsh, who worked in collaboration with the Lancashire North Clinical Commissioning Group, Better Care Together and the National Forum for Health and Wellbeing. This dedicated team received enthusiastic support from the Head-teacher, staff and students of Carnforth High School.

The activities of the day commenced with a breakfast meeting for invited guests, addressed by Dr Chris Moulton, Vice President of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, who provided an entertaining and thought provoking presentation on the current problems faced by emergency care services.

The public event was then opened by Chief Guests, Dr Moulton, and Councillor Pat Wooff, Deputy Mayor of Carnforth Town Council. They then went on together, joining over 600 visitors, many in family groups, to enjoy exploring over fifty stalls representing organisations dedicated to the promotion of health and wellbeing. The stalls presented the widest range of perspectives imaginable. All in one place you could get the facts about Alzheimer’s or diabetes, find out about fitness centres or the Women’s Institute, practise resuscitation skills on a realistic dummy, get your face painted and much, much more.

Visitors were entertained by singers from the Carnforth Community Choir, took the opportunity to sample complementary medicine in a Reiki session, helped judge the’ healthy living’ posters in the competition for local primary schools or were reminded of one of the major successes of community action in promoting good health as they watched demonstrations of a working ‘Iron Lung’. This formed part of Rotary International’s display recording their successful world-wide campaign to eliminate polio.

Central to the Health Mela was the ‘Health MOT’, a comprehensive series of health checks and counselling offered to visitors by volunteer health professionals. The checks included measurement of height, weight and BMI, blood sugar and cholesterol. 100 visitors took advantage of this opportunity. 57 cases of raised cholesterol and 12 of raised blood glucose were identified and the individuals concerned referred to their GP for follow up advice.

Commenting on his experience of the Health Mela, Chief Guest, Dr Chris Moulton said,

‘… Having worked all week in healthcare, I was perhaps not too sure how much I would enjoy spending one of my rare free Saturdays doing more of the same. How wrong could I be! I was invited to the Carnforth Health Mela by Professor Romesh Gupta, of the University of Bolton, who founded the National Forum for Health and Wellbeing. I was briefed to speak about the current problems in emergency care and I received a very warm welcome (with breakfast!) from a well-informed and enthusiastic audience….

… I visited just a few of the many interesting and thought-provoking activities on offer. My favourites were making my own smoothie by pedalling a bike-driven liquidiser, watching the medical students from Preston performing health checks, having my first ever Reiki treatment (supervised by a grand master) and spending just a few frightening minutes in a working replica of an iron lung! (I have to tell you: the iron lung stand was supporting the final eradication from the world of the terrible paralysing disease poliomyelitis).

Altogether, it was an unforgettable day. I came away convinced that health melas are a brilliant concept. They combine a great day out with the ability to promote healthy living and to inform people about current issues in healthcare. Here is my advice: if there is a health mela near you, go to it. If you don’t enjoy it and you don’t learn something, then I will be very surprised!’

Summing up the day’s events, Professor Romesh Gupta, OBE, Chair of the National Forum for Health and Wellbeing said,

‘The success of today’s event shows just how much a community can achieve when health and education services combine to promote health and wellbeing. NFHW is proud to have been part of this event and wishes Carnforth well in its determination to be the healthiest town in Lancashire.’

A report of the event can be read at

http://www.thewestmorlandgazette.co.uk/news/14587102.Lancashire_town_hosts_healthy_living_festival/

A photo album of the event is available at:

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/eot1jb4zw4nmw53/AADBMt6vBsUk3iSead63iql8a?dl=0

Another report of the Health Mela on the Carnforth High School’s website:

http://www.carnforthhigh.co.uk/carnforth-health-mela/639.html