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How long have you been in post?
Five years in this post.
Tell me about your role and day to day duties and responsibilities.
I provide behavioural change support to individuals, families and the whole community of Annandale and Eskdale with an emphasis on healthy lifestyle changes. This support includes one to one interventions, delivering group programmes and raising awareness to local community groups. This health education information involves looking at the Eatwell Guide, portion control, food labelling, healthy snacking and cooking on a budget. It helps individuals identify themselves how they can set small goals to become healthier. I engage with other professionals including midwives, cluster schools and other support agencies who work with families and vulnerable individuals. I receive referrals from other specialist services such as the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) and Dietetics. I work very closely with the Community Link Workers and the Community Food Worker, (Let’s Cook) also based within the Health Improvement Team.
What motivates you most about your job?
To see the difference it makes to families and individuals when you provide them with the very basic information around how they can take small steps to get healthier, for example what to look out for when reading labels when you go shopping, being aware of portion sizes and what are the ‘healthier’ snacks. Over a period of time, just one small change can make a huge difference.
What has given you most satisfaction at work recently?
It has always been a challenge to engage with the most vulnerable families and the Health Improvement Team recently delivered a Let’s Cook Family Fun Programme in one of the local Primary schools, providing practical cookery sessions for families, over a 4 week period. The Head Teacher, in this instance identified those families who she felt would most benefit and some of those took part, and got a great deal from it, this felt like a huge achievement.
What is the most challenging aspect of your job?
I am responsible for supporting the communities of Annandale and Eskdale, across the whole age spectrum, from early years to older adults and on a part-time basis this is extremely challenging. Prioritising workload at times is difficult, and there is such a broad range of groups and those with particular needs, but going forward building capacity with those who work with families and the local communities is essential.
What have you done previously (in terms of jobs and skills) which supports you in your current work?
I studied Hospitality Management at university. I completed a six month placement on Food Manufacturing and once I qualified, I took up a post in this line of work. This involved taking products from the food kitchen and going through all the stages to getting them launched. After having a family, I began working as Health Improvement Support Officer. In this post I attended many health events, spoke to the public and gained knowledge and understanding of the Child Healthy Weight Worker’s job and other roles within the team. I achieved the European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL). I have always been interested in Food and Nutrition and this led to doing an advanced diploma in this subject area and subsequently taking on my current role. I enjoy keeping fit, I eat healthily and have always understood the long term benefits of looking after myself. I also use my own experiences of managing my own weight, the emotional links with food and the relationship with food and mood, how that affects what you eat and why people struggle.
How long have you been involved with SHAP?
14 years.
What do you consider to be the benefits of being a member of SHAP?
As a member of the Food & Physical Activity sub-group of the SHAP, I find this invaluable, sharing good practice and knowledge and skills with other professionals who are involved in similar line of work, but being a member of the full partnership provides me with a wealth of information, of what is going on across our locality.
It is also the support mechanism and knowing that the members have the best interests of the community at heart. The partnership is a great vehicle to ensure the right agencies are all working together to get the best outcomes.
How have you been involved in SHAP?
In my role as Health Improvement Support Officer and SHAP secretary, I have provided admin support. I am a member of SHAP and the Food and Physical Activity sub group. I represent SHAP at meetings and events e.g. Annandale and Eskdale school football tournament and Day of the Region.
Do you have any suggestions for ways in which SHAP can work differently?
I think we need to try to get more young people involved and the wider community.
What are your hobbies and interests outside work?
I love spending time with my family. Having a 5 year old and a 15 year old keeps me very busy. I am the taxi driver to lots of activities and I support my daughter with her school work (which can be challenging at times!). I enjoy keeping fit and attend a kick boxing class. I also power walk while listening to a variety of music. I love cooking and find it relaxing, spending time on Sundays making meals and baking when I can.
For more information please contact Yvonne on
01461 204741 or email yvonne.mcgregor@nhs.net