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Jack  Jack Summerside, Infrastructure Officer

The first paragraph of this article was originally published in Autumn Inform magazine

Last year, I wrote about how presenting something as simple as a lunch club more clearly in terms of its social impact could make it more attractive and relevant to funders. If you’re a smaller or more generalist voluntary organisation, the chances are you don’t fully highlight the value of what you offer in terms of improving the health and wellbeing of the communities you serve. Why not try stepping back from what you currently offer and think about what health impact it has on current users? Who could benefit from it further, and what new doors might open if you presented the offer differently? Even if you do not find any indirect health benefits in the work you do, is there an opportunity to share health messages to your beneficiaries?

Making Every Contact Count (MECC) is a Gateshead Council Public Health initiative that is designed to equip you with the skills to deliver ‘brief interventions’ to the people you encounter in your work in your community. What exactly does this mean? It’s about having the skills to identify when a person may benefit from support in an area of their health and being able to offer advice to help them make changes to their lifestyle or help them seek professional support. This is probably something many of you do anyway between friends and family. MECC is about taking the concept of these informal encounters and applying it in your workplace, whilst giving you the confidence that you have the most up to date information on key Public Health messages in order to be able to offer accurate advice.

As part of this initiative, we are offering sessions on several core themes around health: alcohol, healthy weight and physical activity. These sessions are relevant to anyone working in an organisation that may offer indirect health benefits in what they do. Equally, they are relevant to anyone working in an organisation who may encounter members of the public, volunteers and service-users. Those already offering a specialist health-related service may also find the sessions useful as a refresher on key Public Health messages.

Why sign up? Aside from being a good opportunity to take advantage of free training, it is a chance to identify where you can make a positive impact to people’s health and wellbeing and potentially open new opportunities for project development, partnerships and funding. It’s also a chance to enhance the skills of your workforce and / or volunteers, whilst making a difference in our local communities.

The first programme of MECC sessions is running throughout March and April. They are free to voluntary and community organisations operating in Newcastle and Gateshead.