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Manchester Healthy Weight Team’s Award

31st January 2022

We are delighted to share this Voices blog from Lucy Atlay, Healthy Weight Nurse and iHV HWHN Champion in the Manchester Healthy Weight Team, on her team’s recent win of the Nursing Times Public Health Nursing Team of the Year Award 2021.

Nurse smiling

Lucy Atlay, Healthy Weight Nurse and iHV HWHN Champion


In 2018, there was a serious case review in Manchester of a 13-year-old boy who died from a heart condition exacerbated by morbid obesity.  After this, a need was identified for early intervention in childhood obesity in Manchester and safeguarding pathways that can be followed if a child’s health risks continue to increase, despite intervention.

To support this, the health visiting team in Manchester developed and delivered a year-long Healthy Weight Project which aimed to reduce body mass index for children aged 3-5 years. The first year showed a significant reduction in BMI scores and that the intervention was accepted by parents/carers – they particularly valued the friendly, professional, supportive approach taken by those delivering the programme and how they interacted with the children.

Following this, their team leader secretly nominated the team for the Nursing Times Public Health Nursing Team of the Year Award – the team was shortlisted, along with 11 other teams. Two of the team travelled to London to present information about their Healthy Weight Project to a panel of four judges.

Shortly after the panel presentation, the team made the exciting journey down to London to join the Nursing Times Awards night, and found out that they had won the Nursing Times Public Health Nursing team of the year award!

Below is a story of one of the team and an example of how they have worked with families.

“Living below the line”

Within my role as a Healthy Weight Nurse, many of the families I support find it very difficult to provide nutritious and healthy meals for their family on a limited budget.  This led me to explore The Hunger Project and their “live below the line” food challenge – I decided to attempt to feed myself and my two little ones on just £3 a day.

Recipe planning wasn’t too hard and we stayed on budget. However, day 1 meant being stuck in the house away from the rain so I was eager to reach towards my usual coffees, and the kids were left wanting for snacks out of boredom. Thankfully, we managed to make it through, and I even had leftovers for the next day.

 

What struck me during the second day was the feeling of relief that the kids were in childcare, as the stress of not having to feed them was taken away from me. I suspect this is the relief that many parents share knowing their children can grab a piece of toast at school, or eat 3 square meals at nursery. I spent a large amount of time the previous day thinking about how I could distract the kids – the importance of free school meals and not letting our children go hungry has never been so apparent to me!

During a busy day at work, the girls gifted me a latte and 3 jelly worms which was such a treat. If it’s offered for free, then why turn it down, right? I do wonder how many parents feel too ashamed to access support such as food banks, or would rather struggle than accept help from others? Scarily, I woke up in the night with hunger pangs and sadly my little boy told me he’d had a tummy ache also, I wonder if his was hunger too?

Day 3 had arrived and, when I checked the final balances, we had successfully survived on budget with some food left over too! Although my meals had been filling and relatively tasty, I couldn’t believe how consuming it had been to be constantly thinking about my budget, and making my food last. If this is your everyday, as well as the other stresses many of our families endure, I can totally see why this can become so overwhelming. I can also understand why sadly many parents would rather go without to ensure their children are fed.

I enjoyed the challenge and feel I will try to be more resourceful, and continue to try and educate my own children on how lucky they are. I remain significantly aware of these issues when supporting my families on their journey to adopt healthier lifestyles. I think we should all be more mindful.  No child should go to bed hungry.

Lucy Atlay – Healthy Weight Nurse and iHV HWHN Champion