For over thirty years Ballybeen Women’s Centre (BWC) has been developing and delivering quality services in an area of low and weak community infrastructure.
Health Promotion and Education is a key priority of work and the centre has grown to become a valuable and well-known provider of a range of health services within the Ballybeen area. Health issues do not exist within a vacuum and more often than not women have a number of other issues ongoing in their lives which are impacting on their health. The major success of BWC’s approach has been to successfully integrate health promotion and education into all services from education and training for women, childcare, family support and services to young people.
The provision of health and wellbeing programmes allow women to take some much-needed time out to reflect on their own health/wellbeing and look at ways they can improve their health and take better care of themselves.
The delivery of programmes which are mindful of the reality of women’s lives and take into account their caring responsibilities within families, increase women’s confidence and skills as caregivers to provide appropriate care to their children, respond quicker to early signs of illness and make appropriate use of health care systems.
A core belief is that what is communicated and how it is communicated matters. If we are to increase Health Literacy services need to utilise materials which are understandable, offering a wide range of health topics, teaching health skills and addressing health decision making.
Health literacy is not an innate characteristic of individuals: it is composed of skills that can be built. BWC programmes empower people with the knowledge, tools, resources and self-confidence so they can actively participate in health decision making.
Having increased their skills and knowledge women are then in a position to disseminate these health messages into families and the community.
Feedback from women over the years has shown that increased knowledge, health literacy and awareness in terms of a range of health and social issues empowers women to make informed decisions and take responsibility for not only their own, but their families’ health and social needs.
In addition, it is evident that quite often participation in health and wellbeing programmes is the first step into further education and training within the Women’s Centre.