Friday 22 August 2014

Real Caviar

I drove up last night so I could meet the campervan - and friends and colleagues from across North Wales - when Let's Get Physical! reached Colwyn Bay today for a fantastic event which included walks along the promenade, Tai Chi sessions and healthy eating demonstrations.

Today's event is just a highlight in an ongoing programme of Let's Get Physical! activities in Conwy, one of which is a monthly 'Around the World' meal.

Andy Dawson, a Hafal service user at Colwyn Bay, tells us: "The Around the World events are a really worthwhile and pleasurable addition to the activities calendar, not only for the company and the camaraderie but also for experimenting with food and learning new cookery skills. We really get into the swing of whichever theme the meal is related to by preparing music: for example, Reggae for for the Caribbean or James Bond music for 'Bond Night' (which includes real caviar and optional fancy dress!).

"There's a lot of talk about eating more healthily but we want to think about making our food more adventurous and appetising as well, putting healthy ingredients to good use and with a vegetarian option for every meal."

Visitors at today's event got the opportunity to make fresh smoothies and tortilla wraps. Communities First demonstrated how to make cheap and simple meals which are both nutritious and delicious, and a dietician from Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board was on hand to share useful tips.

Advice and information was available from a range of organisations including:

• Stop Smoking Wales
• Exercise by Referral
• FareShare Food Coop
• Specsavers
• Mental Health Foundation.

Diverse Cymru provided advice and information on BME mental health and advocacy, and how physical wellbeing can lead to better mental health; Bipolar UK provided advice and information on bipolar disorder and local services. Visitors also had the opportunity to get free health checks in the mobile health centre.

Hafal Practice Leader Phil said: "We'll be continuing the theme of Let's Get Physical! throughout the summer by running weekly coastal walks and hikes, Tai Chi sessions and healthy eating barbecues. We see the promotion of physical health as a key part of our service - and one of the main ways that people can benefit from being a part of Hafal."

Let's Get Physical! sets a challenge – both to service users and carers, and to service providers and policy makers – to radically improve the physical health of people with a mental illness and their carers. The campaign is supported by mental health charities Hafal, Bipolar UK and the Mental Health Foundation; Diverse Cymru helps to ensure the campaign reaches out to minority and disadvantaged communities. The campaign was launched by Health Minister Mark Drakeford AM in May and includes 22 events covering all the counties of Wales.