1 August, 2019
Blaenavon Town Council has appointed a full-time officer to explore ways of helping residents lead healthier and more active lives.
Rebecca Smith, the new Healthy Blaenavon Officer, has already had a series of meetings with a range of local groups, partner organisations and individuals in a bid to find out what residents need to encourage them to get more active and how to ensure their needs can be met.
In her previous posts, Rebecca worked on many intergenerational projects - including the award-winning one at Blaenavon, which has helped her form relationships with young people at The Hwb youth setting, older residents at the Arthur Jenkins Care Home and pupils at Blaenavon Heritage School.
The new post is funded jointly by the Town Council and Torfaen County Borough Council, with the project managed by the Town Council and supported strategically by the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board’s Public Health Team.
“We’re often told by statistics that the people of Blaenavon are unhealthy, have poor lifestyle habits and are at higher risk of chronic conditions,” said Mayor Cllr Jac Denley-Jones.
“So we started to think about how we might offer an alternative to the standard public health messages we are faced with every day. How could we create a Healthy Blaenavon?
“Despite the statistics, we see a movement of change across the town, and we want to build on that. Sports clubs are thriving, with the creation of more junior teams, and teenagers are using the gym at the Active Living Centre. The community spirit so prevalent here is encouraging that change.”
Cllr Denley-Jones added that tackling loneliness and isolation was a huge part of improving health and wellbeing – it was not just about physical activity. “We’ll be working hard to promote what’s already on our doorstep, working with partners on transport solutions for older people to get to lunch clubs, art classes or other available social activities.”
Rebecca’s previous roles have included working for National Museum Wales, Cadw, Torfaen County Borough Council, Caerphilly County Borough Council and Newbridge Memo. Her main focus has been on lifelong learning and community engagement projects.
“I’ve worked on many partnership projects and will use these skills as Healthy Blaenavon Officer to identify and influence new partnerships,” she said.
“Over the next few months, I’ll be spending a lot of time in the community in order to identify the health and wellbeing needs, get to know the residents, and understand the capabilities and the barriers they face to living a healthy life.
“I’m very much looking forward to working as an officer of the Town Council and playing my part in creating a healthy Blaenavon.”
Pictured, from left: Emma Davies McIntosh - Torfaen Service Development Lead, Integrated Wellbeing Networks; Kevin Warren - Clerk to Blaenavon Town Council; Rebecca Smith - Healthy Blaenavon Officer - Blaenavon Town Council; Councillor Gareth Davies - Project Lead - Blaenavon Town Council.