This project is aimed at ensuring people in low-income communities are afforded the opportunity and resources to improve their lifestyle and overall heart health
For more than 50 years Irish Heart has been committed to effect positive change in people’s lifestyles in Ireland to prevent heart disease and stroke, the number one cause of death in Ireland.
Unfortunately in Ireland people in the most deprived areas have the lowest life expectancy. Social and economic determinants such as income, education and access to fresh food impact health and create real barriers to good heart health.
That’s why we’re working in partnership with three specific community organisations to help empower them to lead healthier lives by promoting access to easily available and affordable healthy food and physical activity. As well as three-year monetary funding, support from Irish Heart includes nutrition talks, health checks, walking leader training, CPR training, and strategic guidance from our experts.
Irish Heart’s Community Heart Projects Co-Ordinator Georgina Buffini said: “Our programme helps us to empower communities to live life better by adopting a healthier approach to food and physical activity in order to help reduce heart disease and stroke and improve overall health outcomes.
“We are bringing our expertise and experience to these groups and supporting them to develop programmes such as cookery classes, nutrition education and horticulture that will ultimately benefit the whole community.”
The partnership approach, as distinct from a grant scheme, means that each project is tailored to local needs and is led locally to ensure ownership and foster long-term sustainability. All projects are encouraged to share experiences among their own wider organisational networks to maximise potential and reach.
There are some common core elements to the projects such as encouraging those who might not ordinarily have access to fresh food to embark on a journey from seed to dinner table by growing and cooking their own produce in their community garden, as well as education sessions on nutrition and physical activity, budgeting, food labelling and healthy food shopping.
Jeanette O’Neill from Raheen Family Resource Centre Community Heart Project said: “The Community Heart Project is a great opportunity for everyone to come together and learn how to live a healthier life. The cookery classes are proving to be extremely popular: learning the benefits of healthy eating and simple things like how to read a food label can really make a difference to your overall health and well-being. The horticulture group are doing great work with developing a community garden where they can grow their own vegetables and fruit.
This initiative is giving the local community a great opportunity to come together and develop long term, worthwhile projects that will have a lasting effect within the community.”
The Community Hearts Project is being piloted in already existing community oganisations who had shown an interest in enhancing their pre-existing community-based health projects. These include Raheen Family Resource centre in Wexford, Pavee Point in Finglas and Teach na nDaoine Family Resource Centre on the outskirts of Monaghan town (Mullaghmatt/Cortolvin).
“Irish Heart is committed to effecting positive change in the lifestyles of all people in Ireland in order to achieve better outcomes for those affected by heart disease and stroke. We do this through community-presence initiatives like our Community Hearts Project,” said Irish Heart Health Promotion Manager Janis Morrissey.
“These three Projects are shining examples of what can be done in the community by the community. We look forward to continuing to support these projects and, hopefully, in time expanding the Community Hearts Projects throughout Ireland.
For local media – Jeanette O’Neill, Raheen Family Resource Centre @ 051 428005
For national media – Janis Morrissey, Irish Heart @ (01) 6685001