Keep fit and fed
Our 2014 Quids In! Reader Survey painted a worrying picture of declining health in the wake on Welfare Reform. Of those who responded, 52% told us they were anxious or depressed ; 51% said they had turned off their heating to save money; 37% had skipped meals; 30% were physically ill and 52% were struggling with bills.
One strong message was that the segment most likely to be cutting down on food and wrapping themselves up in blankets rather than turning on their heating were not the elderly or disabled people - they were people of working age who were not in full-time work. Of course, the Government's response is that its Welfare Reform prgramme 'encourages' such people to go and get more work, or a better-paid job. But if they becoming physically or mentally ill, these people will be even less likely to be able to do so.
We all need to sleep
Debt Charity Stepchange has launched the Need to Sleep campaign. It starts with the story of 38-year-old Paul, who lies awake at night worrying about his family, his job and mounting debts, and is beginning to feel ill. The aim is to persuade people like Paul to overcome their embarrassment and ask for help. See the campaign here.
Mind the ambassador
Mental health charity Mind has chosen YouTube star Zoe Sugg, also known as Zoella, as its new digital ambassador. The popular British vlogger is launching the initiative #DontPanicButton, which aims to raise awareness of anxiety and panic attacks in young people. Zoe herself suffers from panic attacks and uses her video blog to share personal experiences and give valuable advice about how to deal with them. See more on the Mind website.
Eat on the cheap
Younger people can be worse off when it comes to cooking nutritious food on a budget. Our grannies did it, using skills handed down through generations, but the promise of an instant world broke that chain in the 1970s. Actually teaching clients to cook can be a Health and Safety nightmare, but they can be signposted to books such as Jack Monroe's book of cheap eats A Girl Named Jack, or Jamie Oliver's Ministry of Food. Or, could they be signposted to the recipe and food section at their local library?
* BBC Good Food magazine's website has a selection of tasty, helthy and budget-friendly recipes here.
* Quids In! magazine always contains tips about eating on a budget and inexpensive but delicious recipes we've tested ourselves.
Get fit without a fee
Exercising can make you feel better in yourself and more energetic. You don't have to spend money to walk, run, skip or stretch, you just need to make time to do it.
* The NHS outlines plenty of ways to keep fit on its Live Well pages here
* Some councils offer discounts on swimming sessions for local residents, or vouchers for
free swims or gym sessions in their regular magazines or they may run free get-fit sessions for residents.
*A lot of gyms also offer a month's trial with no obligation to join up.
*Some parks have gym equipment that's free to use.
* There are free walking festivals all over the country, see Walking Pages
Get a health boost from volunteering
Encouraging your clients to volunteer can help their physical and mental health, help them to meet people and give them a valuable element for their CV. For example:
* All dog shelters rely on volunteer dog walkers to keep their charges fit
* Many charities need help for sports activities for children or disabled adults. A CRB check will be necessary, but the charities will be able to help to organise this. Just a few are Barnados, Whizzkids, or Action for Children. The Guardian writes about becoming a sports coach for kids.
One of the craziest ways to stay fit is to chase people through the streets dressed as a zombie. Volunteer zombies with 2.8hourslater are rewarded with a free ticket to the game, professional make-up and training and, of course, an unforgettable experience chasing terrified players through the streets of a city. Parties are held in different cities, so there may be one near you.
Who can help?
Click on the image to download a comprehensive directory of schemes set up to help people struggling to pay their bills. Organised by region and supplier it is produced by Auriga.
Access Granted is the Social Publishing Project's first local site providing accessible advice and signposting to services. It covers the Bath area and is still under construction. You'll find lots of useful links on the Health section, in particular the Fit and Fed and Mind Stuff pages.
See Quids In! magazine for cheap, healthy recipes, and tips on buying cheap eats.
Children's Centres are open to all parents, carers and children and many of the services are free. Clients can get help and advice on child and family health, parenting, money, training and employment. They can search for centres by name or location on Directgov
LiveWell is a free health improvement service offered by the Hounslow and Richmond Community Health Trust. It is available to local people over the age of 18 who either live or work in the boroughs of Merton, Sutton or Richmond.
The Mental Health Charity Mind provides low-cost counselling. This blog look at Four Key About Returning to Work.
The Mental Illness Foundation is working to end mental illness and the inequalities it brings.
NetMums writes about the benefits a parent can claim to help keep their children well fed and healthy.