HEALTHY KNOWSLEY The Public Health Annual Report 2018

This year, our Public Health Annual Report has been presented in a video format and focusses on healthier and happier children and young people.

We know that this is a big issue nationally, with Department of Health figures showing that one in ten children struggle with their mental health.  Reasons include chaotic home environments, responsibilities of being a carer and school work.

At a local level, we know that two out of three primary school children worry about a range of things from tests at school through to homework, family problems and the way that they look.  At a secondary school level, two out of every five pupils worry about exams and tests, how they look and crime, particularly knife crime.  All of these worries impact on our mental health and through the report, we are raising awareness of these issues and the support available in Knowsley.

Creating the right environment is key for children and young people to be able to talk about their feelings and emotions and, working with our partners, that is what we are doing here in Knowsley.

This includes the introduction of the 'Listen Up' project,  working with up to 70 young people who are exploring and sharing their experiences around mental health through the creation of comics and a range of leisure and culture activities available across the borough.

In addition, Emotional First Aid training is being delivered to people who work with children and young people, to improve their understanding of how to respond to the emotional needs of children and young people and a programme that supports children as they move from primary to secondary school has been developed.

We will continue to build on these initiatives over the coming years.  With everyone's help and support, we know that our children and young people will share their feelings and emotions, seek support if needed and go on to flourish into adulthood.
You can watch the video at


Posted by Matthew Ashton, Director of Public Health for Knowsley and Sefton on April 11th, 2018


HEALTHY KNOWSLEY with Matthew Ashton, Director of Public Health for Knowsley and Sefton


In Knowsley, early diagnosis of cancer in any form is a priority for me.

Many of us have been affected by cancer either directly, or indirectly. By ensuring residents know the signs and symptoms, attend screening appointments when invited, return bowel cancer kits and advising their doctor of any relevant family history, together we can help to combat this horrible disease.

This month, I am supporting Public Health England's national 'Be Clear on Cancer' campaign, focusing on breast cancer and targeting women aged 70 or over.

Nationally, one in three women who are diagnosed with breast cancer are aged 70 or over, yet they often think that it does not affect them. Breast screening takes place every three years for women aged between 50 and 70 so if you receive an appointment, please go along.

If you're over 70, you can ask for a free screening every three years - ask your GP.

Most women are aware to look out for a lump, but other signs include pain, changes to the skin, shape, size or feel of the breast. Make an appointment to see your GP if your notice any of these changes. If breast cancer is diagnosed early, it is more likely to be treated successfully. To find out more, visit

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the UK, with around one in eight men getting prostate cancer at some point in their lives and your risk increases with age.

Most men with early prostate cancer don't have any signs or symptoms. Symptoms often only become apparent when your prostate is large enough to affect the urethra and you may start to notice things like an increased need to urinate, straining while urinating, dribbling after you finish urinating and feeling that your bladder has not fully emptied.

These symptoms shouldn’t be ignored and could be caused by a non-cancerous problem called an enlarged prostate. If you notice any of these symptoms, visit your GP.  

Further information is available at

Posted by Matthew Ashton on March 7th, 2018


HEALTHY KNOWSLEY with Matthew Ashton, Director of Public Health for Knowsley and Sefton


Earlier this month, Public Health England relaunched the national ‘Act FAST’ stroke campaign, working closely with the Stroke Association.

Hopefully by now, you will have seen or heard about the campaign, either through TV or radio advertising or social media.  If you haven’t, it’s really important that you know what the signs are to look out for, and importantly, what to do if you suspect someone is have a stroke.

The FAST campaign highlights the sings for you to look out for:-

Face – has their face fallen to one side? Can they smile?
Arms – can they raise both arms and keep them there?
Speech – is their speech slurred?
Time – call 999 if you see any of these signs

Other symptoms can include sudden loss of vision or blurred vision, weakness or numbness on one side of the body, sudden memory loss or confusion or sudden dizziness.

If you see any of the above symptoms, it’s important that you act FAST and call 999 – the sooner you act the better their chances of a good recovery.  There’s lots of stroke prevention advice available on (search ‘stroke prevention’) including having a healthy diet, regular exercise, give up smoking and not drinking too much alcohol.

Also, if you’re aged 40-74, have you had your free NHS health check?  It is designed to help spot the early signs of a stroke, kidney disease, heart disease, type 2 diabetes or dementia.  You’ve got nothing to lose and lots to gain as you will receive advice around the steps you can take to lower your risk of developing these conditions.  

Find out more about the free NHS check on (click on ‘checking’).

Posted by Matthew Ashton on February 7th, 2018


Protect yourself and your family this winter

With winter looming and a drop in temperature, flu incidents tend to be on the increase.  However, you can help to protect yourself and your family by having the flu jab.

For the majority of people, flu is an unpleasant, but not life-threatening illness. However, it can be very serious for older people and those groups at risk of developing complications including people with weakened immune systems, as well as underlying conditions such as neurological disorders, liver, lung or renal disease, heart problems or diabetes, the morbidly obese and pregnant women.

A free nasal spray vaccine is offered to two and three year old children and under-16s in ‘at risk’ groups. Children in reception class and school years 1, 2, 3 and 4 also receive this spray in school. Free vaccines are also offered to people with weakened immune systems and their household contacts, people living in long stay residential care homes and people who are in receipt of a carer’s allowance, or those who are the main carer of an older or disabled person.

Don’t delay and contact your GP today to get your flu vaccination. Even if you had a vaccination last winter you need another one this year to stay safe from flu.  

Let’s help keep antibiotics working
Antibiotics don’t work for everything – that’s the message from the latest Public Health campaign which warns us that taking antibiotics unnecessarily causes dangerous bacteria to become resistant, which means they may not work when they are really needed.  

Many illnesses, including coughs, colds and sore throats are caused by viruses, and antibiotics do not work against viral infections like these.

Antibiotics are an important tool to help treat serious bacterial infections, such as pneumonia, meningococcal meningitis and sepsis and to help ward off infections during chemotherapy, caesarean sections and other surgery.

Always take your doctor’s advice on antibiotics.
For further information on antibiotic resistance, visit and search ‘antibiotics’.

Posted by With Matthew Ashton, Director of Public Health for Knowsley and Sefton on November 9th, 2017


Healthy Knowsley

Throughout October, we supporting a number of campaigns aimed at improving your health and wellbeing.

Firstly, we are supporting the national campaign to help people give up smoking – initially for a 28 day challenge throughout October, but hopefully once you’ve given up for 28 days, that could roll on into months and years and ultimately give up for good! As well as saving money, other benefits include a longer life expectancy, increased energy levels, improved sense of taste and smell and better oral health.

One of the biggest challenges of giving up is doing it on your own, but with Knowsley’s Stop Smoking service, you won’t be. Whether its text, phone, online or face-to-face support you need, they can help. Find out more at, call 0800 3247 111 or pop in to your local pharmacy. 

Also in October is World Mental Health Day (on 10 October).  Mental health is about the way you think and feel and your ability to deal with life’s ups and downs.

One in four people will experience a mental health problem each year so looking after your mental health is really important.

There are simple steps you can take to improve your mental health and boost your mood. These steps, outlined by the Mental Health Foundation, are keeping active, talking about your feelings, learning something new, eating well, keeping in touch with your family or friends, taking a break (allow yourself some ‘me’ time), drinking less alcohol, accepting who you are (we are all different!), asking for help and caring for yourself and others. 

We all lead busy lives so I know it can be hard to make changes, but small changes really can make a difference.  I’ll be taking small steps too so join me and try and incorporate as many of these activities into your daily life as possible and hopefully we will all feel the difference.

There’s lots more advice about improving your health and wellbeing on today!

Posted by By Matthew Ashton, Director of Public Health for Knowsley and Sefton on October 11th, 2017



World Suicide Prevention Day takes place each year on 10 September. Suicide Prevention is a key priority for Directors of Public Health in Cheshire and Merseyside and in response we have developed the ‘NO MORE’ Suicide Strategy.

Our vision is for a region where suicides are eliminated, where people do not consider suicide as a solution to the difficulties they face, a region that supports people at a time of personal crisis and builds individual and community resilience for improved lives.

Men account for eight out of every ten suicides, and the highest number of suicides are recorded in men aged 35-54 years.

The theme of the 2017 World Suicide Prevention Day was ‘Take a minute, change a life.’ It’s a reminder that we can all take an active role in looking out for those who may be struggling, check in with them, and encourage them to tell their story in their own way and at their own pace. Offering a gentle word of support and listening in a non-judgemental way can make all the difference.

There is lots of support available - here are just a few:-
•  Samaritans – freephone 116 123 24 hours a day - if you need help or if you are worried about someone else
•  Young Minds parent helpline – 0808 802 5544 – if you’re a parent worried about your child
•  AMPARO support service – 0330 088 9255 – if you have been bereaved by suicide

Remember, if you need to talk to someone about the way you’re feeling, please make an appointment with your GP.

Posted by With Matthew Ashton, Director of Public Health for Knowsley and Sefton on September 18th, 2017


Healthy Knowsley

At this time of year, our priorities tend to be keeping our little ones entertained over the school summer holidays, keeping our family safe from the sun and maybe even trying to lose a bit of weight for our holidays!

Whether you’re at home or abroad, the sun’s rays can be dangerous, particularly when you least expect it.  Walking the dog or being at a park with the children are just a few examples of where the sun’s rays can strike, so always ensure you apply sun cream (at least factor 15 or above), even if you’re only out for a short time.  

Sunhats and loose clothing are also advisable, as well as keeping out of the sun during the hottest parts of the day (between 11am and 3pm) and keep drinking lots of cold drinks such as water – avoid alcohol and caffeine. The sun can cause sunburn, sunstroke and skin cancer, so protect yourself by taking these few simple precautions.  

To keep you and your children moving over the summer, Change4Life has recently launched its 10 minute shake up summer campaign with magical Disney games and activities.  Not only will it keep the kids entertained, but it can help you lose those few pounds too!  

The new 10 Minute Shake Ups are being released each week over the summer holidays with games, featuring characters from Disney Pixar’s latest animation Cars 3, as well as Moana, Frozen Fever, Zootropolis, Beauty and the Beast and The Lodge.  Every 10 minute burst of exercise can make a real difference in helping children reach the 60 minutes they need each day, plus it can help to build their social skills, boost self-confidence, improve bone and heart health and maintain a healthy weight.

You can read more about the 10 minute shake up, as well as other activities taking place throughout the school holidays in Knowsley, on

I hope you all have a fabulous summer!

Posted by With Matthew Ashton, Director of Public Health for Knowsley and Sefton on August 11th, 2017


Memories of Knowsley by Brenda Roscoe

A tale of two houses

In 1946 The Liverpool School of Occupational Therapy opened in a Victorian house called ‘Oakley’ in a quiet area of Huyton.

It was then only the third school of its kind in the country and the person who opened it had previously been the principal of the first one which had opened in Bristol in 1930.

She was Constance Tebbit, she was born in 1906 and spent her childhood in Cambridge. The reason she took up this career is interesting.

On leaving school she went to Birmingham University to study for an Honours Degree in English, but her time there was interrupted when a friend of hers suffered a mental illness and was admitted to hospital.

The young Constance was extremely upset by the restrictive and harsh life of a patient in a mental hospital in the 1920s and she became very interested in psychology, pyschological medicine and the care of the mentally ill in hospital.

She left university (against her parents wishes) and tried to get a job with mentally ill patients in Holloway Sanatorium, but because she was under 21 the Medical Superintendent would not employ her.

However, she was a persistent and determined young woman and was able to work for a time as a ‘volunteer’. She became friends with one of the doctors there, Dr Elizabeth Casson, who having seen the value of organised occupation when she had visited hospitals in the USA, was keen to improve psychiatric treatment in Britain.

There was no training for Occupational Therapy in this country, so Constance determined she would go to America to train.

Eventually her persistence paid off and she was offered a scholarship to the Philadelphia School of Occupational Therapy.

She qualified and in 1930, returned to England and with Dr Casson’s help was made principal of the first British School of Occupational Therapy in Bristol and together they taught the first small group of students.

Although she enjoyed teaching she really wanted to work in the clinical field, and after three years she took up a post at the Country Mental Hospital in Chester, taking students from the Bristol School for clinical placements.

It was at this time she met her husband, Glyn Owens and was married in 1934.
It seems incredible now, but at that time married women were not employed and she had to leave!

A few years later however, in 1941, with the changes war brought, she was asked to return to Chester to help rehabilitate wounded servicemen in the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) hospital.

She took on six young women to work with her, at the same time training them.
At the end of the war the EMS hospital closed and no one was interested in taking on the continuation of the training of the six students, so with her husbands support she decided to do this herself!

They looked for suitable premises and in Huyton they initially found two houses which they decided were possible.

One was ‘Chestnut Hill’ in Seel Road and they made this their first home. Near by in Victoria Road, ‘Oakley’ was decided on as the school.

Oakley was in a very poor state of repair having been left almost derelict after several different occupants during the war.

It had no staircase in it and Mrs Owens had to be winched up to the first floor when she looked over the property.

Nevertheless, in September 1946 the school started with two members of staff, the six students who had begun their training in Chester and a mixed group of girls, some18-year-olds and some mature students who had been in the forces. It was very primitive.

As well as their studies the students had to do the household chores, lighting the coke boilers and scrubbing floors whilst working around the renovation of the building.

Some lectures took place in Mrs Owens own home.

A hostel was not acquired till later, so the girls were either billeted in Kirkby Fields, a hostel eight miles away from Huyton or had to find ‘digs’ locally. Lunch was delivered by the local ‘British Restaurant’.

The winter of 1946/47 was one of the coldest and longest on record with snow for almost three months, fuel and food were rationed and many things in short supply.

The three year training was formalised and involved three aspects: theoretical studies (anatomy, physiology, psychology and psychiatry), practical activities (and their use in treatment), clinical practise in local hospitals.

At the end there were national exams and successful students were qualified to work in both physical and mental health.

Continuing into the 1950s the number of students increased and staff were mostly part time, many from overseas.

Lectures in medicine and psychiatry were given by local consultants, so they often had to be in the evenings or even sometimes on Saturday mornings when the lecturer could come.

When the hostel, Borrowdale in Seel Road was bought travelling was easier. The students were all girls, but from very different backgrounds.

I remember one occasion when a mature student arrived there, kicked off her high heels and said: “These shoes are killing me” and a bemused 18-year-old straight from boarding school reflected that she’d “never had shoes that killed her”.

In the 1960s students enjoyed being associated with Liverpool in the era of the Beatles. They could mix with other students in the city, but for those in the hostel there were drawbacks, they had to be in at 10.30 so going to the pictures meant going early and seeing the end before the beginning of the next house!

Their studies now included going to the Anatomy Theatre at the University for demonstrations on a real cadaver.

A hostel meal of cold meat was not appetising after that as it resembled the muscles they had just seen dissected.

The school continued to expand in the 1970s and 1980s the total number of students reaching about 150 as there was an increasing demand for rehabilitation services in the physical, mental and community fields.

As well as the girls, male students were now being trained. The house next door to Oakley, Fernhill was bought, St Helena’s on Roby Road was bought and expanded for more student accommodation, a hall was built behind Oakley giving extra space for lectures and exams and a large teaching block was built at the back of Fernhill.

However, there was a growing concern for the students to be integrated with other students, and in time, for the course to become a degree course.

So, in 1985, the school moved from Huyton to be part of St Katherine’s College in Childwall, which later became part of the Liverpool Institute of Higher Education.

After seven years there, a decision was made to try to unite the education of all professions related to medicine in one place and the Occupational Therapy Course once again moved, this time to the University of Liverpool where it still is now in 2017.

The two houses, Oakley and Fernhill were after 39 years the home of the Liverpool School of Occupational Therapy and there were many people in the country, and indeed around the world, who have very fond memories of these houses and the part of their lives they spent in Victoria Road and in the Huyton area.

As well as working in various clinical fields many ex-students went on to start Occupational Therapy Schools in other parts of the world.

I am not sure of all that has happened to the two houses between 1985 and 2017. Oakley was briefly used as a training place for dental technicians and later it was a care home.
I think they have been occupied for some time but they have now moved on to another phase of their life. Now, in 2017 they are encased in scaffolding.

As Victoria Road is in a conservation area I hope the external appearance of the houses will remain the same, but I understand the inside is to be refurbished and may become a care home again.

It is nice to think that they will once more be concerned with the health and well being of our community.

Posted by Brenda Roscoe on May 22nd, 2017

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