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Healthy Families Waitakere and Henderson-Massey Local Board working to improve active transport options

Healthy Families Waitakere and Henderson-Massey Local Board working to improve active transport options

Ongoing conversations and a shared vision between the Strategic Leadership Group at Healthy Families Waitakere and the Henderson-Massey Local Board has led to a commitment to improving active transport options in Rathgar and Lincoln Roads.

Earlier this year, Healthy Families Waitakere engaged with the Henderson-Massey Local Board to influence the Lincoln Road upgrade through sharing collected data on resident usage and perceived barriers to active transport. Whilst conversations concerning Lincoln Road are ongoing, the team at Healthy Families Waitakere influenced broader conversations leading to the local board allocating with a $1.1 million budget for the home and school zone. The funds are set to deliver improved pathways and regulate vehicle speed.

Shane Henderson, Henderson-Massey Chairperson, says Healthy Families Waitakere has made a huge contribution as community enablers in the area.

“With highly congested main roads and car dominance, the Henderson North Home and School zone is a tough thoroughfare to redevelop. The Healthy Families Waitakere team ensure Waitakere redevelopments include community consultation and input to make certain the space is reflective of the community it serves.”

Kerry Allan, Healthy Families Waitakere Manager, echoes Shane’s thoughts.

“We know working together creates healthier communities now, and for future generations. Healthy Families Waitakere is delighted to work alongside the Henderson-Massey Local Board, supporting local solutions and leadership to improve the overall health and wellbeing of the Waitakere community for generations to come.”

Report highlights successes of Healthy Families NZ initiative

Report highlights successes of Healthy Families NZ initiative

Media release from Ministry of Health:

The Ministry of Health welcomes the recently-published Healthy Families NZ Summative Evaluation Report that highlights what’s working well and where change is needed to make the Healthy Families NZ initiative more effective and more equitable.

Healthy Families NZ is a large-scale chronic disease prevention initiative that brings together community leadership to improve people’s health in their own communities and prevent long-term conditions such as heart disease, cancers, overweightness and obesity, and harm from alcohol.

The Report was commissioned by the Ministry and authored by Massey University researchers, using a mixture of quantitative data and qualitative sources such as case studies. It provides an important evaluation of the first stage of the Healthy Families NZ initiative which will inform stakeholders across the health system, including Healthy Families NZ providers and communities.

Given the time period covered by the Report, and the timing of data collections such as the New Zealand Health Survey, it was not expected that the quantitative indicators would yet demonstrate any meaningful impact from Healthy Families NZ through reducing risk factors such as smoking, poor nutrition and obesity. This is acknowledged throughout the Report, which notes the need for context around the data sets. The initiative has been set up for on-going monitoring.

Healthy Families NZ is health promotion and equity in action at a grassroots level, supporting communities to improve health. As the Report notes, each Healthy Families NZ provider’s priorities are tailored specifically to the local community. These are spread from the Far North to Invercargill and were chosen because of higher-than-average rates of preventable chronic diseases, higher-than-average rates of risk factors for these diseases, and/or high levels of deprivation, and their readiness to initiate improvements.

Each Healthy Families NZ community has chosen its own priorities for improving health and wellbeing depending on the needs and strengths of the local community. For example, Healthy Families Lower Hutt has prioritised smoke free environments as a focus and has been making real gains in this area. Lower Hutt now has one of the most comprehensive outdoor smoke free policies.

This flexibility means some Healthy Families NZ providers have work ahead of them to make such large gains in other areas, including nutrition and obesity, as the Report identifies. This flexibility is an inherent part of the initiative and is what makes it uniquely placed to improve health equity.

The ten Healthy Families NZ providers are comprised of key partners including district health boards (DHBs), iwi, local government, sports organisations and Pacific organisations. These groups are working together to support communities to think differently about the underlying causes of poor health and to make changes to their social and physical environment, which results in better health.

The Ministry of Health sincerely thanks the Report’s authors for their work. You can read the Healthy Families NZ Summative Evaluation Report at: - https://www.health.govt.nz/publication/healthy-families-nz-summative-evaluation-report

The recently-published Tier 1 statistics 2017/18 tool also provides detailed information about the health of New Zealanders - https://www.health.govt.nz/publication/tier-1-statistics-2017-18-new-zealand-health-survey

Photo by Kyle Myburgh on Unsplash

The power of collaboration: National report recognises achievements of Healthy Families Waitakere

The power of collaboration: National report recognises achievements of Healthy Families Waitakere

A report released by the Ministry of Health has highlighted the key achievements of Healthy Families Waitakere in developing and implementing prevention-based systems change for the Waitakere community throughout its first three years of action. Healthy Families is a national large-scale initiative that brings community leadership together in a united effort for better health.

Through this report, Healthy Families Waitakere was acknowledged as achieving notable success through collaboration with local partners and implementing coordinated approaches to chronic disease prevention for over 156,000 people living in the Waitakere region.

Healthy Families Waitakere Manager, Kerry Allan, says this capability will take Healthy Families Waitakere from strength to strength.

“Healthy Families Waitakere has worked closely and developed a strong, collaborative approach with community partners, proving invaluable in supporting community-led codesign and capability building. In particular, our relationship with Sport Waitakere as our Lead Provider has enabled both teams the opportunity to extend our networks, share capabilities and reflects a growing alignment in our approaches, language, teams and programmes.”

The work Healthy Families Waitakere undertook supporting the Water Only Schools Movement was also recognised for its role in securing funding for 13 new water fountains in schools, with 40 new water fountains in schools reported as installed. To date, over 30 schools have benefited from the support of Healthy Families Waitakere and funding from the Trusts Community Foundation.

A “mana enhancing” approach is embedded in the overall strategy to ensure knowledge sharing with a Māori lens, including the re-energising of a Māori stakeholder rōpū as well as being conscious of, and using, te ao Māori concepts where applicable, such as maramataka.

Reflecting on the past four years, Kerry Allan is confident a secure foundation has been laid to pave the way for Healthy Families Waitakere to stride forward into the future.

“Healthy Families Waitakere continues to operate with integrity and purpose and develop initiatives to cater to our diverse communities in the Waitakere region. Looking ahead to the next four years, Healthy Families Waitakere will continue to connect, collaborate and empower Waitakere’s community leaders to develop prevention-based change for its people.”

Photo by Kyle Myburgh on Unsplash

Fresh approach to serving up healthy affordable kai

Fresh approach to serving up healthy affordable kai

When Healthy Families Waitakere embarked on a partnership with two West Auckland supermarkets, the goal was to increase the availability and affordability of healthy food for Ranui and Glen Eden communities.

But the initiative served up much more for countless social services operators and families nationwide.

The concept ‘Local Choice’ was developed following a co-design process involving stakeholders and members of the community as a solution to the issues facing families around providing healthy affordable meals. Local Choice enables families to provide five nutritionally sound dinners to feed six people, for under $60.

“We know that involving the community in developing a solution has much better likelihood of success and the insights from our community told us that people wanted more affordable, healthier food available in West Auckland,” says Healthy Families Waitakere Manager, Kerry Allan.

“Our goal was to activate and support local systems capable of delivering this – a community model with the potential to be upscaled at a later stage if successful.”

Community and other stakeholders were brought together to contribute and provide suitable recipe ideas, including vegetarian options.  Auckland Council and Love Food Hate Waste also contributed with information focused on preventing food waste, and assisted with the meal planner development.

The first opportunity for the community to access Local Choice was in May 2017 when families could select from five weekly sets of recipes, with a focus around winter produce.  A shopping list guided shoppers in gathering the ingredients for the dinner meals, while store layout, allocated shelf space and signage in the participating supermarkets was designed to help.  The concept was promoted via a number of local platforms.

Ellie Mackwood, a West Auckland mother of nine year old twins, was one of the first customers to use Local Choice.

“It took away the requirement to think about what to cook each night, and I felt like I was doing the right thing by my kids in terms of healthy food.  It also changed the family’s eating patterns for the better,” says Ellie.  “We started eating legumes – I’d never used them before except split peas in soup.  I now routinely use lentils in our meat patties recipe.”

Kerry says the partnership with a community-oriented supermarket owner allowed experimentation with a solution that ultimately benefitted hundreds of families locally. 

“It could inform local whānau and the wider community about cost-effective, healthy meal options while building their knowledge, attitudes and skills for accessing and preparing simple healthy, tasty food on a budget,” says Kerry.

Healthy Families Waitakere, acting as a broker, generated wide interest from more than 20 social services organisations who on-promoted the concept to their clients.

“This represented a significant step in the initiative.  The concept of enabling the delivery of affordable meals had been escalated within local social services groups with excellent take up.  We also saw it grow organically, as participants promoted the concept with others,” adds Kerry.

For local champions like the Salvation Army Waitakere, Local Choice provided a valuable tool for helping families eat well and affordably.  The content was also adapted into monthly cooking workshops for the community.

Faith Bishop Nahu, financial mentoring case worker and co-ordinator of the food bank at Salvation Army Waitakere, said she was amazed at the $60 budget and was quick to try it herself and introduce it to staff, before sharing it within her networks and educating food bank users about the initiative.

“We gave meal demonstrations to show them how to use Local Choice and how to use the ingredients, especially things like beans which are often not taken from the food pantry,” says Faith.

“It was well received, and helped promote better eating.  We had clients who had previously bought takeaways thinking they were cheaper, but then tried Local Choice and started cooking together with their kids.”

In November, the concept attracted the attention of WasteMINZ who identified the potential of using the recipe booklet as part of their nationwide Love Food Hate Waste campaign. Since then, ‘Easy Choice – Family Kai’ seasonal healthy meal planner has been enthusiastically welcomed with more than 12,000 downloads within the first few days.

So did it serve up healthy and affordable kai where it all started?

“Yes, but the reality is much more than that.  The initial Local Choice model has provided the community access to and education on how to cook healthy food across West Auckland,” says Kerry.

“The initiative delivered a model which many social service providers could then take and implement within their own networks – a true win-win that helps our community live healthier lives.”

Vegetable gardening returning to our communities

Vegetable gardening returning to our communities

Eighty families in Waitakere are now benefiting from growing, harvesting and cooking with vegetables from their backyard gardens. After attending workshops that covered how to compost, build a garden bed and look after the plants, these families embarked on a journey to provide nourishing food for their whanau. With 50% of these families now cooking with the vegetables most days of the week and 80% at least once a week, we are seeing a sustainable shift in the food consumed by our communities.

Since having their own backyard garden, families have made savings by growing and cooking with vegetables that they previously would have bought from a store. For example a Ranui family no longer need to buy spinach and silverbeet as they now grow enough to feed their family.

Being able to utilise freshly picked vegetables in family meals is a significant motivator for these families to continue to grow more vegetables. A number of families are saving on waste and producing less rubbish as well as having a little more money in their pockets. These gardens are not only benefiting each family but many have shared their surplus of vegetables with wider family members, friends, neighbours and even foodbanks.

The Pasifika Arts Centre at Corbans Estate Henderson have two gardens that have become a hub for over 100 Pasifika people. 14 Pasifika groups regularly attend the Centre and have embraced the gardens as a means to re-ignite traditional gardening methods. The Centre also plans to increase the number of gardens beds and plant taro on the grass bank.

The gardens have prompted these families to share their knowledge and skills with the wider community and 10 more Pasifika families have since developed vegetable gardens in their own back yards, “The gardens have strengthened our sense of community, by creating a space to gather, share and learn about gardening and our environment.”

Corbans Estate are now seeing the value in their space being used to support local food production and will work with the Pasifika community to extend the gardens to cater for the increased demand.

Healthy Families Waitakere worked alongside key stakeholders, My Backyard Garden Project, Pasifika Vision and Compost Collective at Auckland Council, to coordinate the workshops and installation of the garden beds that are now reaping benefits for the wider community.

“A critical element to the sustainability has been connecting these families with each other and the stakeholders that can support them with training, education and materials”, says Healthy Families Waitakere Manager, Kerry Allan.