Haringey PCT ... Salsa dancing is the best prescription
In Tottenham, north London, on Sunday afternoons, the local African Caribbean hairdressing salon has a makeover. The hairdryers are pushed aside, as 20 ladies arrive, not for dyeing or braiding, but for salsa dancing.
The salon, near St Ann's hospital, is one of 60 venues outside normal health settings that Haringey Teaching PCT supports to improve fitness. The Health for Haringey projects; over 80 per cent of them for ethnic minority communities focus on physical activity.
Ama, who runs the salon, realised that many clients wanted to lose weight and become fitter. So she gathered a group of 20 and won a grant from Health for Haringey, which is Big Lottery funded, to pay an instructor for 12 weeks.
This class is particularly good because this community faces a higher risk of hypertension, CHD and diabetes, says Michele Daniels, an organiser of the programme.
Meanwhile, Jamait Al-Nissa, the local Muslim women's group, which holds sewing workshops, now temporarily sets the machines aside to hold a weekly fitness class. After a few classes, the women also began a healthy cooking class at the same workshop.
None of these 60 projects costs more than £2,000 to start up ; they soon become selfsufficient, charging participants, after the initial period. Health for Haringey projects aim to get away from the idea of health being about the NHS,says Ms Daniels. Some projects have asked for a dietician to help and we have helped out, but the main focus is self-help prevention by people within their own communities.