Healthy Living Centre Dartford
To receive a briefing on the work that is carried out at the Healthy Living Centre Dartford.
The Chairman welcomed Sharon Phillips to the meeting, who was present to provide Members with an update on the work being carried out at the Healthy Living Centre (HLC), Dartford. He also drew Members attention to the HLC’s Annual Report, which had been distributed separately from the agenda.
In response to a question relating to the changes that had been seen since representatives from the HLC had last visited to update Members Mrs Phillips replied that they had seen an increase in the number of people with low level mental health problems arriving at the Centre seeking advice. She also noted that the number of volunteers working for the Centre had increased to 50, and that many more people were attending the Centre in order to access the Internet to perform job searches and access online benefit related forms and information. She said that IT support volunteers were also being called upon to provide more assistance to those who do not have the necessary IT skills.
Members then referred to the ‘House’ project and asked how this initiative was progressing. Mrs Phillips explained how this project would, in effect, deliver HLC type services to teenagers and said that they had been working to identify potential locations on the Temple Hill and Tree estates in order that sessions may be arranged and service advice delivered. She said that the aim was to focus on those areas specifically relevant to young people and also to reach out to those who might be at risk of turning to crime.
Members noted the case study relating to weight loss that had been included in the Annual Report and asked whether the positive impact that the HLC had had for this resident had been highlighted to other residents. Mrs Phillips replied that it had been included in an article in the December issue of the ‘Dartford Living’ magazine, which advertised the next series of ‘Why Weight’ programmes that were due to begin in January 2015. The Healthy Lifestyles Co-ordinator also noted that the case had been included as part of her Annual Report and said that it would be included in the press release, due to be sent out by the communications team, to publicise the next series of ‘Why Weight’ programmes.
Members then referred to the financial information that had been included in the HLC’s Annual Report and asked whether the gap shown between the total income and total expenditure was cause for concern. Mrs Phillips replied that the extra expenditure related to the fact that 2 years’ worth of rent had been included in the expenditure figures for 2013/14; because the payment for 2012/13 had been delayed whilst negotiations relating to the amount of rent to be paid had taken place. She also confirmed that the HLC had had sufficient reserves to cover the difference but noted that they were always looking for additional ways to save money and make best use of available funding by working with other organisations.
Members then referred to the good work that is carried out by the Community Chef and asked whether the Healthy Living Centre had any links to the services provided by food banks. Mrs Phillips replied that they had been in discussion with the people who provide such services. She also noted that food banks tended to provide food in tins and packets and said that it would be more beneficial if a supply of fresh fruit and vegetables could be sourced from local retailers as well. Members hoped that the HLC would be able to use its skills to advise those that use food banks on budgeting and making the right dietary choices. Mrs Phillips confirmed that their relationship with those that operate food banks would continue to be progressed and also noted that the HLC now had a number of volunteers who would be going out into the community to promote healthy eating.
Members then referred to a parliamentary report that had recently been produced on food banks and suggested that the Council should consider whether it could implement some of the Local Authority specific recommendations contained within that report.
Members thanked Mrs Phillips for her update and asked that their thanks also be passed to the staff and volunteers at the Healthy Living Centre for the work that they do to provide support to residents of the Borough.
1. That Mrs Phillips be thanked for attending the meeting and responding to Members’ questions.
2. That the information provided by Mrs Phillips be noted.