HALE - Health Action Local Engagement

Chordiality's adopted charity for 2017-19

Chordiality is pleased to announce that its current adopted charity is the HALE Project in Shipley.

“The service we offer is such a simple thing, but it is so important to so many.  It helps make a difference to so many people’s lives.”

Loneliness, isolation and having nowhere to turn in times of difficulty are major issues for many people.  A Shipley-based charity has been championing these issues since its creation in 2003 and it has now been chosen as the Choir’s adopted charity for the two-year period 2017 to 2019.

The HALE Project (Health Action Local Engagement) helps over 6,000 local people every year with a range of programmes to improve their health and wellbeing.  It has won four awards for its work in the last seven years – two in the last three – and, as many local practitioners will admit, if HALE didn’t exist, there wouldn’t be anyone doing this work in the community at all.

HALE grew from humble beginnings in 2003 from a Healthy Living initiative, originally funded by the National Lottery’s Big Lottery Fund, to establish a five-year programme in the Shipley area to offer solutions to health inequalities – differences in health status or in the distribution of health determinants between different population groups. 

The new start-up programme was charged with finding ways to make a co-ordinated impact around healthy living in areas of need.  Its initial work centred on supporting young people and it was very successful. 

However, at the end of the five-year period and with no further funding available, HALE had to become self-sustainable to survive.  The charity that exists today was formed and Natasha Thomas, who joined the project over ten years ago as a development worker, became its Chief Officer.  From a small office with just four staff, HALE has grown into a successful operation with 23 part-time staff and 68 volunteers and today over 6,000 people engage with its services.

Natasha, who is still its CO, is very clear about HALE’s remit, in terms of where it has come from and where it is going.

“We are very much about first level support in the community and community development.  Our board is made up of volunteers who meet once a month and look at what we are up to and our direction.  We are a very flat organisation where everybody helps everyone else.”

Services

Nationally, the UK suffers from a huge gap in service provision for older people and Shipley is no exception, ‘befriending’ has therefore become a bedrock of HALE’s provision. 

The charity’s volunteers support older people on a weekly basis.  A range of activities are offered which include social groups, tea dances, allotment groups, ‘cook and eats’ for the isolated, eight dementia groups and a once-a-month wellbeing café for dementia suffers and their carers.

HALE’s work also extends to helping people suffering from mental health problems and it offers a Community Connect Service – a hand-holding scheme to enable people to make the first steps to accessing services and a normal life.  Young people can also visit the charity’s Outreach Service, in reality a converted single-deck bus that makes itself available to youngsters in the evenings to offer advice on drugs, alcohol, debt, sexual health and grooming.

HALE’s services are in growing demand with the charity receiving referrals from GPs, social workers, psychiatric nurses, schools and the police.  Bidding for service funds is a continual challenge for the charity, whose boundaries now extend beyond Shipley to include Frizinghall and Manningham.

“It can be very difficult to secure funding,” says Natasha, “particularly because people in the poorer areas, who suffer real poverty and need, can be masked by the more wealthy areas. 

“The service we offer is such a simple thing, but it is so important to so many.  It helps make a difference to so many people’s lives.”

  • More information about the services that the HALE Project provides can be found on its website.