Cooking up new ideas: Solihull Lighten Up

As Solihull Lighten Up goes from strength to strength, we’ve been looking at ways we can improve the service, to help improve the health and wellbeing of more people across Solihull. So we’re pleased to announce we’re planning some exciting changes.

Bob, one of the Lighten Up Help Centre staff

Solihull Lighten Up is a weight management service offering people a package of support tailored to their needs. As well as vouchers for commercial weight loss groups, it offers a range of extra specialist help and advice, including phone support from staff at our Lighten Up Help Centre and free referrals to activity groups in the area.

For people with slightly more complex needs (including people with learning disabilities, disabled people and their carers, people with mental health issues and recent ex-smokers) Solihull Lighten Up also offers up to 12 months of one-to-one support from a Behaviour Change Advisor or Dietitian.

It’s been running since Spring 2016 and in its first year, 772 clients lost a total of 2567.6kg, or 404st 3lbs. That’s an average of over half a stone each!

Having now talked to and worked with hundreds of people and numerous partner organisations in the area, we’re now liaising with commissioners to start implementing some new ideas, based on the conversations and feedback we’ve had.

Alternatives to weight management groups

For most of the people Solihull Lighten Up supports, weight management groups like Weight Watchers and Slimming World work really well. In the first year of service delivery, we supported over 800 people to go to groups (backed up by regular phonecalls from Lighten Up Help Centre staff) and, for most of these people, membership of a group was a good way to kickstart their weight loss.

But, for some people, groups are just not a perfect fit. There might be a practical reason; perhaps meeting times clash with work, or there are insurmountable childcare issues. Or it might be something less obvious; some people just don’t feel able to make the big lifestyle and dietary changes required by a group straight away, and some need more support with physical activity.

So we’re designing our own new 12-week weight management programme, strongly influenced by feedback from the people we work with. Delivered in community venues across Solihull, it will be family-friendly, so that kids can join in, with plenty of healthy eating and physical activity sessions.

The Solihull Lighten Up team has already taken on a new Behaviour Change advisor, Kavita, to enable us to do more tailored support, and we’ll be launching the new programme soon. We hope that, by offering some carefully designed alternatives, we’ll help more people to adopt the Behaviour Change principles that we know create long-term lifestyle change.

New “slow cooker” sessions

We currently run a few different cookery sessions. Many of our staff, across all our services, have been trained as Cooking Mentors and they run sessions showing people how to cook simple healthy recipes on a budget.

The feedback has been really positive and we’ve seen a demand for more healthy cooking support, especially for people who are short on time and space at home. So – with the support of Solihull Council – we’re putting together a “slow cooker” course.

Participants will be given a slow cooker that they can plug in anywhere at home (it doesn’t even have to go in the kitchen!), together with demonstrations and a variety of easy healthy recipes. Slow cookers are associated with winter meals but we have plenty of ideas for summer dishes that we look forward to sharing too!

If you live in Solihull and you’d like to kick-start your weight loss journey with a bit of extra help, contact us to find out if you are eligible for the Solihull Lighten Up programme. Contact our Lighten Up call centre on 0800 599 9880 or via email on lighten.up@nhs.net.

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