Below is just a small selection of comments from leading figures in the fields of healthcare, local government and human rights.
“National government, local authorities and devolved NHS bodies all have a responsibility to provide the funding, equipment, facilities and care our population need but community events that raise awareness about health and healthy living are vital. That is why I was delighted to get an invite to the Chorley Health Mela.
Collaborative working in the community is key – It allows us to share best practice, challenge stigmas over certain health issues and break down barriers in our local area – the more events like Mela that can help to normalise community health the better!”
“Mental health is not treated same as physical health.
The understanding about the early symptoms of mental illness is poor among the peers, students and teachers who are the first to notice changes in behaviour of the affected individual. All the organisations such as this should get together and work towards addressing the issue of mental health in children and young adults.”
“Many thanks, again, for inviting Stuart and me to the very successful health mela on Saturday. We both found it enjoyable, informative and an excellent day of health promotion. You, your team and all stakeholders deserve full plaudits. The Leyland health mela was an excellent day for recognising that good health is not a passive state, but one which involves active participation and enjoyment. The emphasis on involvement of the entire community was impressive and including eye health emphasised to all ages that our eyes and vision are to be valued and treasured. This health mela is an exemplar of true
community involvement in health promotion and its success is reflected in the numbers who attend and the year on year demand.”
“It was real privilege to be involved in the Leyland Health Mela. The NHS is currently stretched with a finite budget and increasingly expensive modern healthcare. This makes it all the more important for individuals and communities to take responsibility for their own health to reduce the risk of heart attacks and other forms of cardiovascular disease.
I had read about last year’s Leyland Health Mela and to witness it firsthand this year was a real treat. I was particularly struck by the enthusiasm of the participants and the attendees. What a wonderful example of a community working together with a common purpose for the benefit of all. This was multidisciplinary team working at its best.
Congratulations to all for making this event so enjoyable and successful. I will take lessons learnt back for discussion at the Council of the Scottish Cardiac Society.”
“I join Professor Caroline MacEwan in congratulating the organisers for holding the event in a school and in emphasising the point that schools are the heart of the community and as such is an ideal venue for these events to be located. I take this opportunity to highlight Rotary’s commitment to supporting health and wellbeing among the communities we serve and remind you of Rotary’s area of
focus and our commitment to eradication of Polio in the world and just how close we are to achieving this aim. I also remind you of how Rotary addresses health issues in the local community by holding Stroke Awareness days in local supermarkets in partnership with the Stroke Association and partners other health initiatives by facilitating events for community based experts to deliver their message. This is a true example of what working together with other organisations in our local communities can achieve.”
“We were delighted to host the Preston Health Mela again at the University, working collaboratively with a range of organisations to promote health and wellbeing across Lancashire. The event complements the education, research, innovation and enterprise we provide at the University. We continue to be committed in our work to find solutions to tackle health inequalities that exist in Lancashire.”
“Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has had a proud association with the Mela for many years. As the new Chair of the Trust, I was delighted to attend and lend my support to this outstanding event. The Mela is an inspiring opportunity to bring health and wellbeing services out to the communities we serve. I would like to congratulate and thank all those who put so much effort into making the Mela a hugely successful and joyous celebration. This was a wonderful showcase of partnership working at its very best.”
“The Health Mela is an excellent event that gives local people a unique opportunity to engage with a wide range of health organisations and to find out more about the services that can help them. We are delighted to support this year’s event, which enables us to provide information about our services and to learn more about the health needs and concerns of our communities.”
“The Preston Health Mela provided a very effective example of community partnership with statutory and voluntary services. A wide spectrum of people came together with a focus on improving health outcomes for children and young people. This event demonstrated that there is great capacity that can be harnessed to support innovation of services and form a true partnership between communities and service providers.
“I believe there is a major role for education providers to play in this process. We can support the development of a new workforce to allow for innovative services and we can also support members of local communities to develop and achieve their potential to train and work for their peers to transform health outcomes.”
“The Preston Health Mela is a powerful example of community organisation dedicated to health and wellbeing. It was the ‘Big Society’ before the Big Society, and it chimes with the current work going on around the North West on Asset-based Community Development. I commend the work and efforts of this remarkable organisation.”
“All the research shows that health literacy – understanding your health condition – understanding how to make yourself healthy, is absolutely key to helping people get better – or to prevent them from getting an illness. It’s absolutely essential that this type of activity takes place and I congratulate the Health Mela and Academy for leading in this way.”
“It is good to see the Health Mela going from strength to strength and providing such a useful opportunity for local communities and individuals to learn more about their own health and local health services.”
“… a fantastic and informative event. It is clear that looking after our own health and well-being will only be of more importance in the years to come. I look forward to working with these groups at future Health Melas.”
“The Bolton Health Mela was a truly fantastic event exemplifying all that is good in health care. Its focus on prevention, health and well- being and using activity as a stimulus for a contented and fulfilling life was inspiring.
“To meet the challenges of an ageing and increasingly frail population, engagement with people in a way which allows them to take charge of their own health, is critically important. The palpable enthusiasm of the event participants struck a chord in galvanising them to encompass the principle of ‘start well, live well and age well’ as fundamental to their lives – this approach being the bedrock of their physical and mental health.
“I will certainly recommend this event to colleagues and members of the public alike, especially if they want to drink their own delicious smoothie crafted by pedalling a bicycle!”
“North West Ambulance Service has had a presence at the Health Mela for several years now. We are thrilled to be part of the 11th anniversary celebrations. The event plays such an important part in promoting healthy living in the community.”
“Thank you for inviting me to participate in the Mela. It was a real privilege to be a part of such a vibrant event and to see at first hand what you and your colleagues have created over the years. I can safely say that I have never seen anything like it, and the fantastic collaboration between so many organisations with a common interest in healthier lives was impressive, but also thoroughly enjoyable. It was completely different and enormous fun, not something one can often say in the context of health promotion.
“You have certainly found an effective way of getting messages across, bringing services to people who need them and making a real difference to people’s lives, and I wish you all every success for the future.”
“I regularly attend the Health Mela and, over the years, have watched it grow and grow with more and more visitors and stands. There really is something of use and interest for everyone. I am particularly delighted that, with no more room at the wonderful Gujarat Centre, it has been possible to move the Mela to the Guild Hall in this, my Mayoral year. My thanks go to the organisers who have put so much effort, year in and year out, into creating such a successful event and to the participating organisations who are so important in providing such a wealth of advice and information to people of Preston and the surrounding area. I know that this year’s Mela, in Guild Year, will be a resounding success and my best wishes go to everyone involved.”
“The University of Bolton is pleased to be associated once more with the annual Health Mela in Preston. This is an extremely important community health initiative and the University of Bolton has been so impressed by the model operated by the LGHUF that it has now run two successful Health Melas of its own. By the time you read this, will have had its third. The University wishes the LGHUF and the Health Mela every success on 21st April 2012.”
“I have had the pleasure of being involved in the Health Mela for over 10 years and the underlying aims of the Mela are more relevant now than ever. The Health Mela brings healthcare to the public in an attempt to ensure that healthcare is seen as part of society and not an impenetrable and confusing service that is sometimes seen as difficult to access. In this country, healthcare is undergoing a radical change under the framework called QIPP (Quality, Innovation, Productivity and Prevention). The Health Mela is certainly innovative and the informal engagement of the public and healthcare providers will certainly help towards prevention of disease. The Pathology department has provided blood testing for diabetes and cholesterol since the beginning of the Mela and is proud to be part of this engagement and the delivery of QIPP.”
“I was struck by the enormous energy, commitment and enthusiasm at the Mela, and for me it reinforced the value of individuals contributing to the community in which they live and work. Not only are there huge opportunities to improve individual health, this is also an invaluable tool for maintaining the health and well-being of the wider community and relationships between those of different ethnic backgrounds. I know that this initiative will go from strength to strength under your inimitable leadership.”
“The Health Mela has been a fantastic opportunity to raise awareness about health issues with people who are considered ‘hard to reach’. It is a partnership between clinicians, NHS Trusts, Ambulance Services and South Asian organisations, working together for the good of the local community. The Health Mela brings together people of different generations, genders, religion and beliefs in promoting awareness of people’s personal responsibility in looking after their own health and if they need help or assistance, how to access healthcare services in their local area. This is an excellent example of Big Society, something that has been working for more than 10 years, with people working together and helping each other. This is the 11th Anniversary of the Preston Health Mela, which started off small and has gone from strength to strength over the years. I wish them every success for the future and may they continue to build on their marvellous achievements to date.”
“Lancashire Gujurat Health User’s Forum is an important organisation within our community. It brings together members of the ethnic minority population with health professionals and local NHS organisations to raise awareness of health risks such as high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity that are particularly high within this community. The Health Mela is a fantastic way of engaging people and highlighting these health risks. Guild year comes every 20 years, and 2012 is the first Guild celebration of the 21st century. It is right that the annual Health Mela be part of those celebrations. I fully support the Health Mela and will continue to do so in the future.”
“It was great to attend the 2nd Fylde Coast Health Mela on Saturday 4th October at Fleetwood High School. This event really demonstrated what can be done when Doctors and medical students provide such an open access and local service and my particular thanks to Cllr Ramesh Gandhi, Professor Romesh Gupta and the Rotarians who ensured a thoroughly well run day.”
“I think it is a wonderful initiative to try to tackle the serious health issues that we face across the Bradford district. It was great to see so many organisations with stalls offering help and advice and letting people know where they can go for support. The health checks that were being carried out were great to help people identify their health issues at an early stage and it was inspiring to see University students give up their weekend to come to help, and their passion to help people shows the NHS’ future is in safe hands. I hope the Bradford Health Mela goes from strength to strength.”
“The Health Mela is an example of good practice to health professionals across the UK. It’s an example of how to work with community leaders to engage with ethnic minority groups who traditionally don’t access NHS services because of fear or apprehension. I was delighted to open the event, which is a great way to encourage people from minority ethnic communities to meet health experts and get informal and friendly advice.”
“I am delighted to have been invited to this year’s Bolton Health Mela. As a pathologist I know how important it is to diagnose illnesses as early as possible and ideally to prevent them from developing in the first place. Understanding how to make healthy lifestyle choices and having a few simple tests to identify common conditions can make all the difference. I’m looking forward to visiting the activities on offer – it’ll be interesting to see if I’m as healthy as I think I am!”
“This is a unique experience. I have not experienced anything of its kind and on this scale in my life. I am pleasantly surprised and impressed to see people from various generations and backgrounds coming to the Mela and taking full advantage of the various health advice and health checks available.”
“I was delighted with this unique initiative and impressed by the partnership between the health professionals and the community… It is an excellent example of good practice and has already surpassed the expectations of recently published White Paper Review.”
“The Health Mela is a shining example of good practice to health professionals across the U.K. of how to work with community leaders to engage with ethnic minority groups. The importance of encouraging greater health awareness cannot be underestimated, particularly among communities, which traditionally have been reluctant to access health services because of their fear or apprehension. It also serves as a showcase for Asian lifestyle and culture to boost community links.”
“I enormously enjoyed my visit particularly meeting many hard working people manning a variety of stalls and interacting with the visiting public. I do congratulate LGHUF and the Rotary Club of Leyland for their initiative in holding this Mela. It looked to me to be a great success and I hope it will be the first of many in South Ribble.
“Please do pass on my congratulations to everyone involved with the organisation of the event.”
“I am delighted that the Rotary Club of Leyland has taken the initiative to hold this first event in partnership with so many organisations and in particular the National Forum for Health & Wellbeing. Rotary International is a worldwide organisation in over 200 countries. It prides itself in changing the lives of so many people for the better, especially with the current programme to eradicate Polio from our world. This Health Mela is a practical and novel way to raise health awareness among our local communities, not only improving their way of living, but in some cases, actively saving lives.”
“The Health Mela was a fantastic experience and a great celebration of health and healthcare in Preston. I was very impressed by the great community involvement from the very young to the young at heart! I wish you every success next year.”
“The energy and commitment of everyone involved in the Mela was plain to see. I was particularly pleased to have the chance to talk to the Manchester medical students about the health checks they were doing (under appropriate supervision!) and they were hugely impressive. Raising awareness about how we can take control of our health and well being is a really important issue in the UK today – the Mela manages to do this, while being fun and relaxed too.”
“Human rights are all about dignity, equal treatment and fairness, not unlike the best traditions of the National Health Service. So it was a real honour and joy to attend the Preston Health Mela and have the opportunity to talk about the importance of respecting patients’ fundamental rights and freedoms in the context of looking after them. As human rights protect us from abuses of power, these values become especially important in the clinical setting where people can be so vulnerable, disorientated and alone. . . . . The Mela itself is an extremely positive event in making the sometimes mystical world of medicine more accessible to the whole community and to demonstrate and celebrate humanity in healthcare.”
“Health and wellbeing are key areas of focus that Rotary has throughout the world. By engaging with our communities in this way we are really saving lives.”
“It’s very important to bring pathology services out of hospitals and into communities. The health melas do this and I congratulate the National Forum for Health and Wellbeing, and the Rotary Club of Leyland for their initiative in holding them in the community.”
“This is a welcome initiative that brings together health, voluntary organisations and the community to celebrate healthy living and encourage active lifestyles. It was great to see so many families and young people at the event. We all have a responsibility to give our children a healthy start and this event helps provide them with the tools they need to live well.”
“It was a great privilege to attend the Preston Health Mela in May. The NHS faces enormous challenges with our changing society with many more of us happily living into old age but then facing living with long term conditions. The Preston Health Mela is an exemplar for us all in how to reach out to a local population in order to help them both identify risk factors as well as helping communities to be more resilient by engaging with community groups outside the NHS family. I was particularly impressed by the enthusiasm and energy shown by the Manchester medical students and the time they gave up on a Saturday to organise and help with the health promotion activities. Well done our doctors of the future!”
“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!”