This week, we have been recruiting volunteer Health Ambassadors for our new Big Lottery-funded programme, Making Health Work.
We’re launching the project in partnership with the Foyer Federation; the idea comes from Foyer’s Healthy Conversations programme, which aims to give young people the understanding, opportunities and networks to improve the health and wellbeing of themselves, their peers and their communities.
With Making Health Work, we aim to help young people to have Healthy Conversations with a focus on work and employment.
Health and work go hand in hand
The programme aims to get young people thinking about the ways in which work impacts on health … and health impacts on work. Our new Health Ambassadors will create conversations to address the health and lifestyle issues that sometimes create barriers for young jobseekers.
Eating healthily, doing physical activity and taking care of your mental health will all give you a good grounding in preparation for employment. But there are deeper and broader issues around health and wellbeing that can affect your working life too. Things like having friends who are a positive influence, having a good social circle to provide some support, even just knowing how to access services, and having access to good food at a reasonable cost, can all affect your health and have a positive impact upon your ability to work.
In turn, work can be good for your health. It gives you a reason to leave the house each day and stay active. It helps you develop the sleeping and eating routines that your body needs. It helps you to meet people and widen your social circle.
In short, we believe that facilitating Healthy Conversations between young people can give them the skills and background to sustain employment.
Could you, or someone you know, be a Health Ambassador?
Danny Fryer, Talent Agent for Making Health Work, said “we’re looking for Health Ambassadors aged between 18 and 25 to come and work with us in these volunteer roles. The Health Ambassadors will help us to deliver the programme through one-to-one coaching sessions with other young people and conversation groups, as well as activities like Health Taster Days and Social Action Projects”.
Volunteers will be given specialist training for the Making Health Work project as well as having access to the same training and ongoing support that all Gateway volunteers receive.
The specialised training includes two days working with Youth At Risk, full training on the Healthy Conversations resource pack, and training from the Mental Health Foundation. Volunteers will learn coaching techniques and find out how to lead discussions around mental and physical health.
On Wednesday, a group of potential volunteers came to our first recruitment session and held their own conversation group. The Ambassadors will be setting goals for others, so the session provided some practical demonstrations of the sort of work they could be doing. If you think you might be interested in coming along to the next one, give us a ring on 0121 456 7820 and ask about Health Ambassadors.
Pathways to employment
Making Health Work is a really good addition to our Skills Escalator (right; click for full size). Once the Health Ambassadors are trained, they can go on to take up other volunteering opportunities with Gateway, such as Befriending, or supporting Pop Up Talent. And, of course, as with our other volunteer programmes, they will have the opportunity to move up and become apprentices and paraprofessionals.
The links between employment and physical and mental health are clear to us (after all, health and employment are what we do!) so we are really pleased to be leading a programme that provides pathways to employment in this way – especially one that works with younger people.