Archive for the ‘5 Health Matters’ Category

Morning Hatha Yoga Classes with Stephanie Eastwood

I’m offering weekday morning Hatha Yoga classes on Tuesdays (9.00am) and Fridays (10.15am) (more…)


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Brighton-based organisation Strike a Light – Arts & Heritage will deliver a series of four workshops to learn how to create a life history book to capture memories and stories about a person’s life, marking birthdays, life changes, Dementia or a beautiful, creative gift for loved ones. (more…)

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Over the last six months, WHCA has provided space at West Hill Hall for two Dementia Friends sessions and during the Festival a performed reading of a very moving play was presented by its author Brian Daniels, Kate Dyson and other professional actors at the Friends Meeting House. ‘Don’t Leave Me Now’ explores the impact of early onset dementia on two very different families. Rachael Dixey cared for her partner with dementia for seven years. Cindy Toulman visited her husband in his care home every day for 10 years. ‘Don’t Leave Me Now’ was inspired by these two real-life stories. With authenticity, insight and humour, Brian Daniels weaves the strands of these stories together to create a documentary style production,  highlighting the emotions, dilemmas and challenges experienced by people affected by dementia. It has been performed over 100 times throughout the country and a shortened version of it can be found on YouTube at youtu.be/Udj1yXuKGD4.

The performance at the Friends Centre was commissioned by the recently formed Brighton and Hove Dementia Action Alliance as part of Dementia Awareness Week in May. One of the objectives of the Alliance is for Brighton & Hove to be recognised as a Dementia Friendly Community, and they have produced the following information, taken from ‘The Dementia Whisperer – Scenes From the Frontline of Caring’ by Agnes B. Juhasz.

In a dementia-friendly world, everyone – shop assistants, newsagents postmen/women, pharmacists – would have a basic level of understanding of dementia, its signs and symptoms, and the different ways of managing communication with people who are affected. Anyone living with dementia would feel safe to go out and they would not necessarily need a guardian with them as everyone around would be a friend, or a friendly face, a helper who would always have a smile and be able to give that little ‘push’ when needed.

If, for instance, they forgot where they had wanted to go, there would always be someone who would try and find out by asking direct, simple questions. People with dementia would be able to go out to buy milk, post their letters and do every-day small things that we all do independently without any trouble. Within their local community it would be impossible to get lost, because everyone would know where they lived and there would be someone on every corner to give them directions, or accompany them home.

This description of a dementia-friendly world where people living with the condition can do things by themselves, and where the environment almost invisibly protects them with lots of love and support, offers quality of life. It seems a utopian ideal, but there are increasingly encouraging reports about local communities where this is a reality and entire villages are involved in dementia care, for example in Japan and the Netherlands.


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The NHS started in 1948 as a taxation and national insurance funded service, free to everyone, regardless of ability to pay but research suggests that England is now well down the road to having an American-style private health system. The 2012 Health and Social Care Act absolved the UK government of providing a national health service and forced the new Clinical Commissioning Groups to put each health service contract out to bids from the private sector. Around 15-20% of NHS services are now privatised and the companies skim off between 20-30% in running costs and profits for shareholders, from every £1 we pay them from our taxes. Sustainability Transformation Plans insist that £3bn of NHS debt must be paid off by 2020. This will be done by cutting services, hospitals and staff.

Since the 1980s ALL governments have been slowly changing the structure of the NHS so the lucrative bits could eventually be sold to private health companies. Two Tory politicians, Oliver Letwin and Jeremy Hunt, the current Health Minister, have written books on how to privatise the NHS. According to large parts of the media the NHS is failing now because we have an ageing population which needs complex medical treatment, and that the country cannot afford to keep the NHS free, the way it was.  However, when the NHS was set up, the country was bankrupt. We are now the 6th richest country in the world, and yet the welfare state, including state education and the NHS, is being dismantled.

Collective action by workers, campaigners and communities can make a difference and there is now a local Neighbourhood Group in the Seven Dials.


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As reported in last month’s online Whistler, the 7Dials Neighbourhood Group is now up and running. Here’s an update on what we’ve been up to.

We’ve had two discussion meetings in the upstairs room at the Duke of Wellington, sharing experiences and learning on a broader level about the frightening levels of privatisation, failures and wastage through selling off our local NHS services. It’s very worrying to realise that so many of us haven’t a clue about what’s actually happening to our NHS in Brighton & Hove.

For instance:

  • Big increases in consultants appointment / treatment waiting times
  • A 25% drop in number of GPs – 6 surgery closures in Brighton & Hove in the last two years, leaving thousands seeking another surgery with spaces
  • Private company Optum now vetting all GP referrals in order to reduce hospital appointments by 25%
  • Attempted and/or failed privatisation of musculo-skeletal services (knees and hips) locally and elsewhere
  • Massive drop in number of available hospital beds
  • Endoscopy under a new unpleasant process because they won’t employ qualified staff for the recovery room
  • Child health services massively cut, health visitors to be replaced by Nursery Nurses

This has to be our focus for local activities, sharing the knowledge with everyone in our locality. To that end, we are inviting anyone and everyone to come along to our meeting again upstairs at the Duke of Wellington in Upper Gloucester Road (not far from the Dials, above the station) on Monday 26 June. 7.30 – 9pm. We’ll be putting invitations through doors so look out for your reminder!

On Saturday 20 May we had our first stall in the Seven Dials, where crowds of people dropped by, picked up leaflets, signed our petition and chatted to us. We urged everyone, for our children and grandchildren’s sakes, to use their vote for the NHS.

Whatever the result of the election, there’s still work to be done to protect our local NHS and social services.

If you’d like a blue poster for your window, contact Sussex Defend the NHS on defendthenhs@gmail.com or, even better, come along to 7Dials Neighbourhood Group on Monday 26 June, 7.30pm upstairs in the Duke of Wellington, Upper Gloucester Road, collect a poster and tell us your ideas for action!

Katrina Miller


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Our local Brighton & Hove campaigning group, Sussex Defend the NHS, has launched a brilliant new locality-based project, Neighbourhood Groups. You may have noticed blue and white posters put up in windows around the area urging us all to Join the Fight for Our NHS. These are part of Sussex Defend the NHS taking their campaign into local communities all over the city. They want enable those of us who don’t find it easy to get to central locations for events for one reason or another in busy lives, and who are keen to learn about the devastation that is happening as a result of this government’s policies, to be able to join the discussion and spread the information around the neighbourhood.

The new 7Dials Neighbourhood Group had its first meeting at the Duke of Wellington in Upper Gloucester Road in mid-February. As a result, some were inspired to get up to London on March 4th for the big march and rally Our NHS. On 5th March some went down to the Duke of York’s for a special Our NHS showing of Ken Loach’s Spirit of ’45. The film was followed by a Q&A session and resulted in loads more people coming forward to join or start up a local neighbourhood group to follow up with local activities.

Thinking to the future, our 7Dials group organised themselves for a lunchtime leafletting session for BHASVIC students on their lunch break by the Dials. This was a first time for members of the group, and they were very good at it, sparking a lot of conversations with the students and passers-by, raising awareness of the threats our health and social services are under. More poster distribution, doorstep conversations, stalls and other activities are planned. All are welcome to come along and find out more. The NHS has always been there for us. But, as Aneurin Bevan said back in 1946, ‘The NHS will last only as long as there are folk to fight for it.’ We have to be those folk!

If you’d like a blue poster for your window, contact Sussex Defend the NHS on defendthenhs@gmail.com or even better, come along to 7Dials Neighbourhood Group on Monday 27th March, 7.30pm upstairs in the Duke of Wellington, Upper Gloucester Road, collect a poster and tell us your ideas for action!

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Here in the editorial office, we still have many copies of The Whistler  going back 40 years. Given that the site is soon to be redeveloped, it’s interesting to read what The Whistler team said about the new building on Buckingham Road in  the March 1979 issue . . .

You may have wondered what goes on in the tastefully restored houses at 76-80 Buckingham Road and the modern building on the corner of Upper Gloucester Road. They are, in fact, a Hostel for Mentally Handicapped Adults, and a Social Education Centre, which are under separate administration but are joined on three floors. (more…)

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