The Beacon of Light welcomed specialists from the NHS recently to find out more about the work done to improve health and wellbeing in the North East.
Karen Turner, the Prevention Director of NHS England, and Peter K Small RD MD FRCSEd, Consultant General Surgeon at Sunderland Royal Hospital were amongst the delegation that toured the Beacon of Light, watching activity sessions and meeting with Foundation of Light staff to learn how the regional passion for football is being used to improve health in children and adults.
The Beacon of Light is home to Foundation of Light, the award-winning registered charity of Sunderland AFC.
Over 5,500 people access services and facilities in the Beacon every week.
Open to the public since September 2018, the Beacon is an all-inclusive community hub created to address regional challenges in four areas: Education; Health and Wellbeing; Sport and Play; and World of Work.
Alongside day-to-day sport activities like 5-a-side football, badminton and basketball, the Foundation operates a range of health programmes at the Beacon including the ‘Man V Fat’ men’s health programme, and ‘Ha’Weigh the Lasses’, created to help women make small changes in their lifestyle to promote healthy weight loss.
Families visiting the Beacon learn how to cook healthy and tasty meals at the Jamie Oliver Ministry of Food Kitchen, and a special ‘Family Fakeaway’ (healthy versions of takeaway classics such as pizza or curry) session is due to launch in the Summer holidays.
The Extra Time Hubs programme helps retired and semi-retired people stay active, healthy and happy, with participants taking part in walking football and walking netball amongst others.
The Vardy Foundation Health and Wellbeing Zone within the Beacon also hosts the NHS Veterans’ Mental Health Complex Treatment Service, created to help armed forces veterans living with complex mental health needs in the north of England.
The full delegation consisted of: Karen Turner, Prevention Director NHS England; Peter K Small RD MD FRCSEd, Consultant General Surgeon, Sunderland Royal Hospital; Gillian Gibson, Director of Public Health, Sunderland City Council; Dr Jon Tose, GP Clinical Director, NHS South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group; Ian Makinson, Sunderland Royal Hospital Head of Contracting
Speaking about the visit, Karen Turner, the Prevention Director NHS England and NHS Improvement said: “I’m very impressed by the Beacon of Light and the broad range of work being done here to help people of all ages lead healthier and more active lives.
“We know that issues such as obesity present a real problem to our society which is why we are taking action, including trialling very low calorie diets, as part of the NHS Long Term Plan.
“I’m hopeful that with the type of work being done here we can reduce its impact both now and for future generations.
“We often see first-hand the devastating long-term impact that unhealthy lifestyles have on people, so I applaud this initiative by the Foundation of Light to reduce this, helping people live longer, healthier and happier lives.”
Phil King, Beacon of Light General Manager, added: “It’s been a privilege to welcome the delegation to the Beacon of Light and show them what we’re doing to create accessible and fun ways for people to improve their health and take part in sport within our region.
In the Beacon of Light, the people of Sunderland have a world-class sports and learning facility on their doorstep that anyone can use and benefit from.
“We are already doing a lot to address obesity and poor health but we could definitely do more and are always open to partnerships that could help us increase our impact.”
For further information about the Beacon of Light, including how to book 5-a-side pitches, space in the sports arena for sports such as Badminton and basketball, and to sign up to programmes like ‘Ha’Weigh the Lasses’ visit beaconoflight.co.uk or search for ‘Beacon of Light’ on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.