Healthy Organisation Initiative (HOI)
Background to the Healthy Organisation Initiative:
The Healthy Organisation Initiative was first piloted in September 2016 in a Pentecostal Afro-Caribbean church in South London. It was based on the observation that large proportions of Black Minority Ethnic (BME) groups in London and the South East are linked to faith groups.
Since 2005, there has been a 50% increase in the numbers of people attending Pentecostal Churches in London — a phenomenon explained by a large influx of immigrants from Africa during that period (1)
The BME communities – especially Afro Caribbean and Asians, are at higher risk of certain nutrition related diseases namely – Obesity, Type 2 Diabetes, Heart disease, Hypertension and Kidney disease (2).
In many cases these diseases may be avoidable with the correct dietary and lifestyle modifications in place. The issues for BME communities aren’t solely related to food but also to practices and beliefs which are not often understood, addressed, or acknowledged by mainstream healthcare services. (3)
With specific targeted messages and activities, tailored resources, and appropriate interactions; it is possible to improve nutritional health.
Local leaders, especially pastors; have immense influence on the decision making behaviours of congregants. Many are more than just ‘religious advisories’ and are involved in the infrastructure of the family’s overall well being.
There is a reverential trust placed upon many spiritual leaders. The model works best when these leaders become aware of the balance between faith confessions and action required by the community – ‘faith & works.’ The faith community is regularly frequented and is a ‘safe’ and extremely positive environment – therefore an excellent place to pitch a sound health, faith and culturally relevant campaign.
The HOI is a six week intervention programme initially designed with churches of Black and Minority ethnic group membership in mind. The principle is that the churches sign up; and over the six week period the church will participate in basic behaviour changes specifically focusing on:
- Increasing physical activity
- Lowering Sugar intake
- Lowering salt intake
- Lowering fat intake
- Increasing fibre intake
- Increasing fluid intake
Coupled with the current data around morbidity and mortality amongst BME populations and the ‘win-win’ involvement of BME groups is part of the ‘selling point.’ The Food for Purpose team work with and train nominated local champions / link workers from the participating church and along with the church leaders’ support. Each week involves key messaging on one of the 6 key areas.
See figure 1 below:
Food for Purpose works with local *churches to improve health and wellness and encourage the ‘Faith environment’ to be a ‘healthy environment’ too.
For more information on how to run the Health Organisation Initiative in your congregation – contact the Food for Purpose team.
The report and results of the pilot which ran in a local Pentecostal church in South London is available upon request.
*The model is also applicable to other BME faith environments.