Opinion: Wellbeing Sheds where actions live up to words

The Sleights Area Men's Shed at Littlebeck
The Sleights Area Men's Shed at Littlebeck

I woke to an email from the Gazette asking me if I’m OK for this piece this week. Gulp! I thought it was for after Easter.

My action must now live up to my word!

Graham Storer

Graham Storer

My morning companion, the Today programme, has the same story almost every day.

A spokesperson says that “they” have a strong policy about a matter.

An opposing voice responds that actions do not back up the fine words.

Many proper laws and by-laws are often flouted because there are not the resources to police them. Again words and actions are not in sync.

On a positive note, I heard about the Somerset town of Frome (pronounced Frume). It was even news in the North!

Three years ago a Frome GP saw the writing on the wall with regard to healthcare and felt a more holistic approach was needed combining professional and voluntary compassionate caring.

We have significant elements of this in Whitby.

Agencies on the one hand and voluntary (do it ourselves) groups on the other.

Think Dalewood near Sainsbury’s, WHISH for kids with hidden impairment and (my beloved) Sheds.

The difference is that the well-respected Frome GP, drew many parties together who then mapped over 400 local activities available to people.

They may not have wellbeing or health on the “tin” but if they connect people they surely do good!

Whitby surgeries have done this in folder form, and SWR MIND will soon have an online resource integrated with their new website.

In Frome, Community Connectors were then added.

They are large numbers of volunteers trained to get alongside individuals, pointing them towards advice and engagement. It’s akin to the NYCC Living Well team and CAB but utilising local volunteers under supervision.

Frome, like Whitby, is a bit out of the way but the community grabbed the idea by the throat. Have the three years of enterprise worked?

A recent report says, “The benefits are not just personal.

The combination of the primary care team’s revised view of illness with the introduction of the compassionate community approach has had a remarkable and measurable impact on Frome.”

In Somerset, emergency hospital admissions over the period increased by 29% and costs by 21%.

Frome, in contrast, saw a 17% fall and a 21% reduction in costs. That is 5% of the total health budget which is not to be sneezed at!

No other intervention has realised such a reduction across a population.

Compassionate actions speak louder than words. It is the practical approach Sheds take.

Tomorrow (Wed Apr 4), at 1.15pm in Eskmouth Scout Hall above Trillo’s on Spring Hill, there is a get together of Sheds.

If you want to learn about Sheds and what they can do, please come.