We spend so much time locally debating new projects, services, or developments. They are meant to be a good thing of course. But will they will improve our well-being?
I visited a recent Health and Well-being awareness day organised by Bristol MultiFaith Forum. It helped remind me of the more basic things that affect our well-being and how this matters to so many of us as we get by, day to day.This event brought together a mix of statutory organisations and charities and attracted a wide range of visitors. I was impressed at the range of projects underway – aiming to bring advice, support, and care to many parts of the community, from young people needing advice on health and contraception, to older men who can get a health check, to counselling and support, and services for minority communities. With the fact that 1 in 4 people experience some mental health issues in their life, from stress to persistent depression or psychosis, the support and outreach initiatives present at the event are clearly important to us all – if not personally then for people we are likely to know who will be affected sooner or later in life.
I was struck how determined the projects and agencies are to maintain services at a time of severe cuts the Coalition government is making to funding sources. This unneccesarily harsh austerity is impacting on all parts of the council, health services and others. A mix of funding from many sources can help, and with the council now managing the Public Health function locally (formerly with the NHS) this allows some funds to be provided to support mental health services. For those affected by mental health issues there was also an emphasis on the role of families and friends in providing support and positive understanding for those who are troubled. The pitfalls of trying to avoid issues and sweep them under the carpet due to pride or emabarrasment were clearly spelled out. Budgets for carers and support workers are under threat just now – I could see clearly, from the diverse bodies who contribute to all our health and well being services, how we all have to do what we can to protect these.
I was pleased to take part earlier this year
in a discussion on Bristol Community radio’s Well Being show, which does a lot to reach out to a wider audience. We discussed age-related issues as well as home energy and health.
It’s here to playback: http://www.bcfmradio.com/…/19/15/wellbeing-show-103/34270
Another role for Public Health is to support environments that contribute to well-being: safer streets, designs of open spaces and places that enable everyone to get about easily, without obstructions, and to walk, access transport and facilities, and relax, all matter. Developers have a really crucial role, but so does the council in maintaining quality of public spaces and holding developers and site managers to account. I’m already active in ways that keep the pressure up when changes are proposed to our spaces and places, and I’ll be taking my role in this really seriously if elected.