In Health Is Made At Home, Lord Nigel Crisp has collected the stories of people and groups who are creating healthy communities in their own ways throughout the UK and succeeding.
To give the book its full title, Health is Made at Home Hospitals are for Repairs, building a healthy and health-creating society.
Lord Nigel Crisp is an independent crossbench member of the House of Lords where he co-chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Global Health. A former chief executive of the NHS in England, he also co-chairs Nursing Now, the global campaign on nursing. His main current interests are global health partnerships, health creation and nursing.
Along with sharing the story and the experience of the TR14ers, the Berkshire teachers working with children excluded from school, and the bankers tackling mental health in the City, is Heather Henry‘s work with fathers in Salford called Salford Dadz.
The project began in 2013 by Salford-based social enterprise Unlimited Potential. It started as an experiment to see whether a group of fathers facing serious problems could help each other to help their children.
Rather than ‘fix’ the dads’ problems, Heather’s role was to draw out ‘what was strong, rather than what was wrong’ with the men. The work extended over the next three years to two further communities in Salford and Rochdale.
Best in town
“I made myself deliberately helpless,” Heather said. “I started out humbly asking for their help to run a competition where children wrote in to say why their dad was the best in town.”
At that first meeting in a local cafe, the fathers met as strangers but soon started talking about their suicidal thoughts and realised that they were not alone with their worries.
The men bonded and formed a group called Salford Dadz – Little Hulton. Their first act was to establish a Saturday club for dads and their children to be together.
Heather said: “After that I realised as a nurse that all I needed to inject was confidence, not medicines. It’s all their work, not mine.’
An independent evaluation by Leeds Beckett and Salford Universities showed that not only did the dads’ wellbeing improve, but so did their children’s and their partners. Local authority children’s services were often no longer needed, and changes in the men’s emotional wellbeing startled local GPs.
Now Heather is using her skills to help children with asthma, based on her own childhood experience with her a social enterprise BreathChamps. “Children are part of my team,” she said. “I ask them if they’ll help me to look after each other and they always say yes, just like the dads did.”