Ballymac’s health check champs

Some of the staff and residents pictured at the 'Health Drop In' day in the Ballymagroarty Community Centre on Wednesday. (HD1205AQ01)
Some of the staff and residents pictured at the 'Health Drop In' day in the Ballymagroarty Community Centre on Wednesday. (HD1205AQ01)

People from all over Ballymagroarty and Hazelbank availed of a ‘Health Drop In’ day at the Ballymagroarty Community Centre on Wednesday.

The ‘Health Drop In’ days are a continuation on from the ‘Biggest Loser’ project which took place in the community over the last few months.

‘Health Drop In’ days, which are part of the Neighbourhood Health Improvement Project (N.H.I.P.), aim to inform local people about the best ways to eat healthy, get fit and lose weight.

Health Development worker for Ballymagroarty and Hazelbank Community Partnership (B.H.C.P.), Roxanne Nixon, said the ‘Health Drop In’ days provided local people with a relaxed setting in which they could come and discuss discretely issues affecting their health.

“The best thing about ‘Health Drop In’ days is local people living in Ballymagroarty and Hazelbank can come and get information and advice about issues affecting and impacting upon their health,” said Roxanne.

“When the people come here they can weigh themselves or they can have their blood pressure taken. It’s then up to us to sign post the people on to other groups in the area. For example, someone might have a problem with alcohol or drugs and we can then pass them on to either Drink Think (alcohol awareness organisation) or Divert (drug awareness organisation).”

Roxanne went on to explain that since the ‘Health Drop In’ days started a few weeks ago interest has grown steadily.

“We have people from all parts of the community coming here and there seems to be a genuine interest in improving health and fitness here.”

Rosemarie Griffin is originally from Ballymagroarty but now lives a stone’s throw away in St. Eithne’s Park.

Rosemarie is studying Community Development at the University of Ulster, Jordanstown; she has two years to go until she graduates and explained the experience she has gained as a volunteer at the ‘Health Drop In’ days has been invaluable.

“I am so happy to be able to give something back to the community. I am originally from here so I get a great sense of satisfaction when I am able to do something positive for the community.

“The ‘Health Drop In’ days are a vital part of this community. Obviously the information and advice are valuable but it’s also economically accessible for the people of this area.

“Money can be tight for many people living here and slimming clubs can be too expensive - where as they can come to the ‘Health Drop In Days’ for free.”

Laura Radcliffe lives in Stephen’s Court with her husband, her eight year-old daughter and five year-old son.

Laura, who has managed to lose eight pounds in the last four weeks, said the ‘Health Drop In’ days are a lifeline to the many people in the local community and added that she would like to see more.

“It’s great coming here every week. I soon built up relationships with the people here and there’s a real social side to what goes on here too.

“Some of the men are really competitive because each week they come here they get their weight taken - if one has lost more weight than the other then that’s when the slagging really starts,” she laughed.

One of the first things Laura was advised to do when she first started attending the ‘Health Drop In’ days was to cut down on her intake of bread.

“Going to a weight loss programme could cost me up to £20 per month but coming here is free and £20 per month can be a lot of money to some people.

“Cutting out bread was the best thing I could have done - I have lost eight pound in four weeks.

“Honestly, I couldn’t recommend the ‘Health Drop In’ days to anyone enough - they are a vital part of this community and the more days we have like these the better the community will be in the long run.”

The next Ballymagroarty and Hazelbank Community Partnership ‘Health Drop In’ day will take place next Wednesday (May 15) from 1pm - 2pm inside the Ballymagroarty Community Centre near Shaw Court.