Agenda item

Health and Wellbeing Presentations

Presentations from:

·         Sue Place – Connect Somerset Champion

·         Kirsten Lambert – Somerset Wildlife Trust

·         Barry Taylor – Rural Practice Network

·         Rupert Farthing – Carymoor Environmental Trust

·         Ewan Jones – SALC priorities


(Please see power point presentation attached to the end of these notes)


Connect Somerset Champions

Sue Place of Connect Somerset gave a short presentation on the 12 Connect Somerset Champions who had been recently appointed following a Council restructure.  She said their first priority had been agreed as education as Somerset had high levels of school exclusion, expulsion, low attendance and home schooling which had little regulation. They had spoken to headteachers to gain an understanding of the social and family support needs and to connect public services with voluntary and community services to help.  A meeting had taken place that day between Council leaders, voluntary sector leaders and the NHS to address health and wellbeing issues.


Sue Place then spoke regarding the Balsam Centre in Wincanton which had been established over 23 years in a former cottage hospital.  She said it was a health and wellbeing centre, a cultural activity centre and a children’s centre.  There was a nursery at the site, a mental health team, employment and skills development,  cultural and therapeutic activities.  There was a particular expertise in mental health support and maternal and young people’s mental health, in partnership with the NHS.


In response to questions, Sue Place advised:


·       Around 18 months ago Connect Somerset were hoping to received funding for specific family support however the funding was not received and it was quite specific and so may not have benefitted many families.

·       There were 42 staff at the Balsam Centre which equated to 19 ½ FTE’s. There were also 120 active volunteers and the centre had between 800 to 900 visitors per week.

·       The centre advertised for specific areas of support from volunteers.


Rural Practice Network (RPN)

Barry Taylor, Primary Care Network Manager, provided a presentation on the Rural Practice Network (see power point presentation attached to end of minutes).  He advised that it was led by clinicians and they encouraged GP practices to work together to achieve more.  The drive to work together made it easier to recruit healthcare specialists to share across the RPN area.  They had also been the highest performing area to deliver COVID vaccinations, had set up pain cafes, bereavement cafes, and volunteer-led health walks.  Future plans included using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to make early interventions in health care.


In response to questions, Barry Taylor advised:


·       All 5 GP practices within the RPN area used Ask My GP and they aimed to respond to enquiries within 30 minutes.

·       Pharmacy First was struggling to recruit pharmacists so patients still ended up in GP surgeries

·       The GP practices had absorbed additional costs to keep up with inflation during 2023 and they were expecting a 3% budget increase the following year which would be difficult.

·       It was estimated that there were 14,000 undiagnosed cases of hypertension across Somerset.


Ewan Jones noted that the meeting which had taken place that day at Haynes Motor Museum was about bringing the voluntary and statutory organisations together to help each other.  LCN’s could help statutory NHS services to do more as Town and Parish Councils had precepting powers.  The Somerset Board would be taking this forward.


Judi Morison asked if it would be useful to have a leaflet listing the services being provided by Rural Practice Network and it was agreed that this would be helpful for outlying villages.


Carymoor Environmental Trust

Rupert Farthing of the Carymoor Environmental Trust advised that the charity had been founded in 1996, championing sustainability at the site and connecting with nature at Carymoor.  He said they hosted around 120 schools per year for environmental education sessions at the site which was a working waste transfer site and a nature reserve.   They also visited schools to communicate the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle message.  He said that as time had passed the nature reserve had improved which had a great effect on the wellbeing of visitors and volunteers.  They provided wellbeing through nature and offered courses on traditional skills like hedge laying, coppicing and willow weaving.  The aim of the project was to educate, engage and try to make a difference.


Somerset Association of Local Councils (SALC)

Ewan Jones spoke as a Director of SALC on their work on the health and wellbeing theme in partnership with Somerset Council to fund additional staff to help Town & Parish Councils to help the wellbeing of their residents and communities.  This had allowed them to undertake needs assessments and they had recently added a health and wellbeing training session and were working to improve the SALC newsletter to Clerks and the SALC website.  He reminded all of the 4 priority themes first agreed during the pilot LCN and said they were waiting for the Local Cycling and Infrastructure Travel Plan to start in the area once an officer was appointed. The outcome of the health and wellbeing survey had been somewhat predictable but it had aligned with the LNC themes.  He noted the £35,000 grant already received for the Youth Project and said that SALC had further grant funding of up to £2,500 to help communities and third sector organisations to encourage partnership approaches.   He concluded by asking to share good news stories of work happening in communities.