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NAPC Programme Manager, Marcus McAlister, had the opportunity to head to Cornwall last week with Community Health and Wellbeing Workers (CHWWs) from Westminster to meet people in CHWW roles in Cornwall and discover the differences and similarities they experience within their work and discuss how they overcome some of the barriers.  

Marcus explains: “On the 4th and 5th of July, I was privileged to be able to accompany five of the team of Community Health and Wellbeing Workers from Westminster in a trip down to Cornwall.  The geographies of Cornwall and Westminster could not be further apart, services in Westminster are usually within walking distance and public transport is great.  In Cornwall, access to a car is almost required for every day life.  We visited some of the sites and met some of the CHWWs in Cornwall to see how the model is being rolled out in a very different landscape. 

“We started by joining 20 CHWW’s on a day’s training in an eco-park.  Many of these CHWWs were in post less than a year so it was a great opportunity for them to ask questions and gain insights from some workers who have been doing the job for a few years.  The problems sounded familiar to those from Westminster, door-knocking at residents houses was unfruitful at first but in Westminster it took about six months before real traction in the community could be gathered.  There was a lot of talk between the CHWWs about personal resilience, handling rejection but continuing on with the door knocks because of the importance and impact this role can have. 

“We joined in a Wellbeing Walk at Newquay Zoo that the CHWWs and Social Prescribers put on every Friday for local residents.  There were about 30 residents for the walk, getting out, meeting others, being social and getting some exercise.  We even saw the mysterious ‘fishing cat’ which had alluded residents for months.  This was also a training opportunity, where other CHWWs were learning about this activity to bring to their own patches, across Cornwall and Westminster.   The weather was wet and soggy but the spirits were high! 

“We then headed up to Falmouth and Penryn PCN at the Dracaena Centre.  A custom built community centre with a café, sports facility, community fridge and a Wellbeing Hub.  One of the many benefits of this facility is that with it being multi-purpose, people don’t know why somebody is attending the centre, which the CHWWs told us has helped uptake to overcome the stigma that many feel around mental health.  

The team down in Cornwall have adopted the CHWW model well and are bringing services closer to people (or people closer to services in some cases), working in a challenging environment but staying true to the principles of the model, that CHWW should be:  

  1. Comprehensive 
  1. Hyperlocal 
  1. Universal  
  1. Integrated” 
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