Preston Health Mela saw more than 1,000 people take part in free, fun event held at UCLan
Partnership has always been an ideal at the heart of the Preston Health Mela and it took on a special significance on Saturday as the chosen theme for the 18th annual event.
This year’s Mela, itself the product of an evolving partnership between the National Forum for Health and Wellbeing and the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan), took place in the University’s Foster Building.
The event was supported by the UCLan Creative Communities Group [CCG] and its volunteer team of staff, students and community members. The CCG has supported the Health Mela at UCLan for the last four years.
More than 1,000 visitors, including many family groups, joined the fun, meeting more than 60 stallholders and a team of health professionals offering on the spot Health MOTs, information and advice.
The event was opened to the public by Professor Mayur Lakhani CBE, President of the Royal College of General Practitioners, in the presence of Sir Mark Hendrick, MP for Preston; Professor Lynne Livesey, Joint Institutional Lead for UCLan; and Councillor Trevor Hart, Mayor of Preston.
Professor Lakhani commented: “I want to congratulate the organisers of the Preston Health Mela for putting on an outstanding event. It is clear to me that Preston is leading the way in health and wellbeing and in creating a wide range of effective partnerships with its communities and institutions such as UCLan. Thanks also to all the many volunteers who made this a great success with much on offer and practical relevant content.”
"Preston is leading the way in health and wellbeing and in creating a wide range of effective partnerships with its communities and institutions such as UCLan."
Young visitors developed new caring skills in the Teddy Bears Clinic, explored the mighty inflatable brain and pedalled away to produce their own nutritious drink on the smoothie bike. Many individuals took the opportunity to undergo the variety of health checks on offer with 113 people completing the core package in the ‘Health MOT’. Overall results showed that 23% of those tested showed abnormalities in levels of blood pressure, blood glucose or cholesterol level which indicated the need for further investigation.
Councillor Hart commented: “I was delighted to support the Health Mela event hosted by UCLan, such a good informative and useful event that gets bigger and better every year. This event both informs, supports, provides practical help and insight to all who attend. Good key note speakers that were forward thinking followed by so many advice agencies and the free health check that gave instant results all made up an exceptional event.”
Many other checks were completed on hearing, sight and oral health, and all the individuals involved in the tests received personal and confidential advice and counselling from friendly health professionals.
UCLan biomedical sciences student Ralph Atia added: “Attending the Health Mela was a truly positive experience; in fact, I would go as far as to say it was the most positive public health event I have heard of. Not only did the counsellors, dentists, renal team and diabetic specialist take a genuine interest in the lives of people, but they offered encouragement and advice about managing their health throughout the event.”
At the Breakfast Meeting for health and associated professionals which preceded the public event, the capacity crowd heard chief guest Professor Lakhani congratulate the organisers for highlighting the significance of partnership in health-care. He identified a number of important changes taking place in general practice which would depend crucially on the development of new partnership working for their success. These included social prescribing and the adoption of digital technology.
"I was delighted to support the Health Mela event hosted by UCLan, it's such a good informative and useful event that gets bigger and better every year."
Taking up this point, Professor Livesey emphasised the role UCLan was eager to play in these developments, not only in relation to health sciences but also more widely across IT, engineering and other disciplines.
Professor Romesh Gupta OBE, Chair of the National Forum for Health and Wellbeing, said: “When our series of Health Melas began eighteen years ago, we believed that there was real positive energy focused on the promotion of community wellbeing that could be released by bringing together in the Health Mela, a mixture of NHS, voluntary and community organisations in a joyful and informal celebration of healthy living.
“As each year has passed, we have seen this belief confirmed and amplified beyond our imagination. My heartfelt thanks to all the organisations and individuals who have worked so hard with us over the years to achieve our aim of healthier and happier communities. We look forward to many more years of developing partnership working.”
UCLan Honorary Fellow Russell Hogarth, Community Ambassador and Chair of the Creative Communities Group (CCGUK), added: “Throughout the day, we received comments and feedback from visitors saying, ‘this was the best Health Mela they had attended’ and it was inspirational to hear the guest speakers and the comments from the audience at the breakfast lecture.”
To see images from the event, visit the University’s Flickr gallery.
Check out Chair of the Creative Communities Group twitter: @CCG_UK and National Forum for Health and Wellbeing's twitter: @NFHW1 for more information.