Community health champions use football to tackle major health issues

David is a community health champion with Fit Reds. Affiliated to Barnsley FC, Fit Reds draws on men’s passion for football to tackle major health issues including drug use, obesity, drinking, smoking and prostate cancer. 

In his role as health champion, David has encouraged over 80 men to improve their health, helping them to lose a total of 205.6kg in weight. He has signposted and supported 17 individuals to access services to address issues around physical activity, substance misuse, smoking and mental wellbeing.

“The problem with men is that they put up with things,” he said. “They’re often too proud to go and see their doctor. The idea with Fit Reds is to catch problems at an early stage. 
“Although I am not clinically trained as a community health champion, I have skills that allow people to see me as someone they can talk to. I try to make them feel that they are not alone, especially when talking about sensitive health problems, like prostate cancer and mental health. A lot of lads ignore their problems and I try to get them to address them and overcome them.”

David has carried out 67 NHS Life Checks in his community and improved his own health and wellbeing after 15 years of recurring health problems. He has now enrolled on a football coaching course with the aim of returning to full time employment.

Community Health Champions are people who, with training and support, voluntarily bring their ability to relate to people and their own life experience to transform health and well-being in their communities. Within their families, communities and workplaces they empower and motivate people to get involved in healthy social activities, create groups to meet local needs and sign post people to relevant support and services. Community Health Champions help others to enjoy healthier lives by raising awareness of health and healthy choices, sharing health messages, removing barriers and creating supportive networks and environments.

Community, AllCaitlin Milne