At the inaugural meeting of the Juniper Green Community Council (JGCC) in November 2009, we decided that one of the subjects of interest to our area was our health and wellbeing and the various factors which influence them both. To this end a health sub committee was formed which at present comprises Helen Ogg, Maxine Magee, Norma McGeever and Robert Ogg – all of whom have or had a connection with the NHS, past or present.
Maxine is a social worker in a mental health team and Norma is a community nurse while Helen worked in laboratory medicine prior to becoming a civil servant. Robert spent his entire working life in biochemistry in the Royal Infirmary.
As a start, we have extracted data from the Scottish Neighbourhood Statistics, which show that Juniper Green and Baberton Mains are indeed one of the healthiest areas, not just in Edinburgh but in Scotland, in which to live. For example, the area has a low level of alcohol abuse, hospital admissions (less than 1/3 of the rate for Edinburgh as a whole in 2001-2004) and drug misuse (less than 20% of the rate for Edinburgh as a whole in the same period).
The main priority identified in our local Community Plan for Pentlands is “Reduced Health Inequalities”. From figures supplied by the Scottish Government about 800 (21%) of Baberton and Juniper Green’s 4000 population (as of 2008) are of pensionable age and 640 (16%) are children.
You may already have seen in our newsletter that an exciting new project is being proposed in the area. It is a drop-in centre for cancer sufferers called Wester Haven, sited opposite the Wester Hailes Police Station.
One of our ideas to encourage healthier eating is for the Community Council (CC) to investigate starting an occasional local produce market to supply seasonal fresh fruit and vegetables. This would work in conjunction with Balerno CC where a market already exists. It is hoped that this would encourage not only more healthy options for eating but also an opportunity for people to meet and socialise a little, as well as providing a chance to be more involved in the community.
In the wider context the Community Council is represented on the Pentlands Neighbourhood Partnership Health and Employment sub group. This group covers the Pentlands area of Edinburgh and includes community councillors as well as key stakeholders and other experts as required. The Local Community Plan sets the priorities for the area, and for health 2009-11 the main one is to reduce health inequalities. To support this priority the Health and Employment sub-group is working on an action plan to take forward issues related to mental health, carers, children’s emotional health and wellbeing and parenting support.
The use of the library HUB system at Oxgangs is being encouraged and is an information source to help young and older people find work.