Vikings' community efforts showcased internationally

Vikings' community efforts showcased internationally

5th June 2017

The pioneering partnerships between Widnes Vikings, NHS Halton CCG and the NHS Improving Me Women's and Children's Vanguard were recognised on the world stage, at a prestigious international healthcare conference.

The organisations presented on the 'Power Of Sport' at the International Conference on Integrated Care in Dublin, speaking to a global audience of leading figures from the world of health.

As the focal point of their local community, Widnes Vikings have been commissioned by NHS Halton CCG and Improving Me - an alliance of 27 NHS organisations across Cheshire and Merseyside - to deliver a number of innovative health interventions and campaigns. The story of their success was shared at the event by James Rule and Richard Munson, CEO and Community Director of Widnes Vikings, with Dave Sweeney, Interim Chief Officer of NHS Halton CCG, and Catherine McClennan, Programme Director of Improving Me. 

Their joint presentation showcased how through utilising the reach of the Vikings brand and creating innovative new approaches, they have successfully promoted the health of thousands of people - from infants and school children, through to adults of all ages. 

The Vikings partnership with NHS Halton CCG focuses on creating closer and healthier communities, and delivering programmes that respond to some of the most challenging health issues the borough faces. Their efforts reach people of all backgrounds - from promoting the fitness of young children by providing free coaching and activity sessions, through to reaching older generations with social groups and care home activity programmes. Their programmes include efforts to support people with mental health concerns, autism, learning disabilities and dementia, as well as people who are isolated or have lifestyle factors that may lead to poor health. 

The Super League club have also worked with Improving Me to create Gamechanger - a ground-breaking project that promotes the fitness of children aged 6-9, supporting efforts to tackle childhood obesity. This sees Widnes Vikings' specialist community coaches work in 36 schools, inspiring better exercise, nutrition and lifestyles for over 2500 children each year. The programme was recently praised by Duncan Selbie, CEO of Public Heath England, as being a true example of "public health in action." 

Richard Munson, Community Director of Widnes Vikings, says: "It was an honour to share our work with NHS Halton CCG and Improving ME at such a high profile conference. These partnerships have proved that sports clubs can be instrumental in promoting better health and bringing communities together. This success has been made possible because of the vision and commitment of our partners at NHS Halton CCG and Improving Me."

He adds, "We know that our approaches can be learned from and replicated, so it was fantastic to have such interest from health figures from across the globe. I hope that our we have inspired others to use the power of sport to transform health and wellbeing in their areas."

Dave Sweeney, Interim Chief Officer of NHS Halton CCG, says: "To promote better health in our local communities, NHS organisations need to think and act differently. By partnering with Widnes Vikings, we've been able to reach people who may not have accessed traditional health services and deliver creative programme that promote health, happiness and wellbeing. It was fantastic to have the opportunity to share our experiences with this international audience and to uncover new ideas that we can bring back to Halton." 

Catherine McClennan, Vanguard Programme Director for Improving Me, says: "Gamechanger is an incredible project that successfully promotes better health, emotional wellbeing and lifestyle improvements for children and their families. We know that the innovative approach that we have delivered in Halton can be applied elsewhere, so it was exciting to our experiences with health leaders from across the world. We're very proud of our partnership with Widnes Vikings and the impact that it has made."  

Vikings' community efforts showcased internationally