Big Health Week success

People in south east London with learning disabilities have taken part in an online week-long event from Monday 2 November to Friday 6 November, focusing on health – while having fun.  

Organised by NHS South East London CCG, the Learning Disabilities Big Health Week involved shared activities via Zoom and aimed to help and engage with learning disability participants, their support workers, carers and family members.

South East London CCG event organiser, Ian Ross, said: “The event turned out to be a great success and we’ve already received some terrific feedback.

“People with learning disabilities have been particularly vulnerable during the Covid outbreak. And even prior to the pandemic, they can find it more difficult to access health information and experience social exclusion.

“That’s why initiatives such as the Big Health Week are so important. They enable us to break down the barriers – even during the current climate – and bring people together.” 

This year’s event followed on from 2019’s ‘Big Health Day’ which brought together people with learning disabilities from the boroughs of Bexley, Greenwich and Lewisham.

South east London GP, Dr Esther Appleby said: “People with learning disabilities experience very stark health inequalities.

“Although we wanted this event to be fun there were a number of key health messages we were aiming to communicate.

“We wanted to build upon the achievement of last year, despite the restrictions of social distancing, and that’s why we extended it to enable people with learning disabilities from all the south east London boroughs to take part.”

Even though this year’s event was a ‘virtual’ one, held online, Dr Appleby believes there was even more scope for getting the health and fun message across.

“The event lasted for a whole week and covered a number of different health areas,” she said. “We also incorporated activities that supported these topics but were also enjoyable and engaging.”

Those who took part in the event were able to find out more about annual health checks, mental health, cancer awareness and healthy relationships.

The fun activities included a quiz, singing, theatre performances, dance classes and exercise.

South East London CCG’s Yvonne Davies was one of the event’s organisers. She said: “We have a duty in the NHS to ensure that people are not marginalised or excluded because of a learning disability. 

“Events such as the Big Health Week make a positive impact and enrich the lives of people with a learning disability, and I know that those who took part have gained enormously.”