A COMMUNITY hub is launching a new project which aims to help people make little but significant improvements to their health

Chest, Heart and Stroke Scotland (CHSS) is encouraging people to pop into their base at the Maryhill Hub after the pandemic left so many people in isolation.

Through CHSS’s new Health Defence project, people can get free height, weight and blood pressure checks, chat with a specialist about what changes they want to make and take part in physical activities and events.

While they already have a hub in Drumchapel, Stuart Brown of CHSS explained that the team want to make themselves known in Maryhill and help the community with their health.

He said: “The beauty of this project is that it’s not us saying ‘this is what we’re going to deliver’. It’s about us asking people what they want and figuring out how we can support that.

“It’s still early days. We’re a couple of months along and we’re chapping on doors and saying we want to connect.”

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Health Defence community engagement coordinator Chris Docherty is keen to get as many people using the project as possible after the pandemic.

He said: “Gym membership was about 300 people before the pandemic, now it’s in the low 50s. People aren’t going out as much and people with health concerns are the ones more gradually going out.”

Also keen to spread the word about Health Defence are MSP Bob Doris and cllrs Franny Scally and Abdul Bostani.

Glasgow Times:

Cllr Scally has recovered from two strokes and is very passionate about the project in advocating the importance of making regular health checks and lifestyle changes.

He spoke about reaching out to people at popular community activities and making them aware that there is a social aspect to Health Defence.

He said: “It’s not about going where there’s one person; it’s going where there’s 50.

“People who go to a tea dance or a coffee meet, it’s not about the tea and the dancing - they go to get out.

“Every one of these venues is full of people who’ve been in isolation, depressed and fed up during Covid.”

Glasgow Times:

Cllr Bostani has already spoken with Glasgow Life, as well as other communities and charities in the area about the project, and all three are enthusiastic about spreading the word.

He said: “We know communities in the area and the message comes across very quickly to the other organisations.”

MSP Doris believes in advocating the project as a resource people can use without needing to make an appointment with the GP or use the NHS.

Glasgow Times:

He said: “People may be going to their GP and the first five minutes of the appointment they offload a lot of other things and GPs will be frustrated as they have only 10 minutes to see them.

“But this is saying to people there are a variety of other places to go.”

Chris agreed: “We can take away some of the pressure on the NHS.”

Glasgow Times:

One positive outcome from the pandemic has been the new hybrid way of connecting with people both in-person and virtually, which increases accessibility for those with mobility problems and those who still get nervous leaving home.

Stuart said: “One man said to us that he had days when he’d get up and not be able to open his front door, but he’d flip up his laptop and join a class there.”

Chris added that their walks can make a huge difference for mental wellbeing, especially in men.

Glasgow Times: L-R: Stuart Brown, cllr Bostani, Bob Doris MSP, cllr Scally, and Emma Knox of CHSSL-R: Stuart Brown, cllr Bostani, Bob Doris MSP, cllr Scally, and Emma Knox of CHSS

He said: “You won’t get men to chat if you all sit in a circle, but they’ll start to chat and open up on a walk.

“Even people who have had strokes and have maybe struggled with communication since, once they’re out on a walk they’re chatting away.”

While delays from the pandemic have meant the project is in its final year of funding from Glasgow City Council’s Glasgow Communities Fund, the team are positive that they can keep going if they become a cemented aspect of the community.

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Stuart said: “We see this as the future. It’s a way for us to genuinely be part of communities and understand their needs.

“We hear things like ‘I’m now able to pop down the shop’, ‘I’m now able to get in the car and fasten my seat belt’. Simple things that we take for granted but which can be really limiting for people.

“They’re not going be running a marathon overnight but we’re making a difference to someone’s life.”

For more information on Health Defence, you can email healthdefence@chss.org.uk, call 0778 771 5430 or pop into the Maryhill Hub, 186 Wyndford Road, Glasgow, G20 8HF.