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


March in the garden

Just came in out of the garden on this bright, sunny St David’s day, the small amount of tête-à-tête daffodils are in full bloom, as they should be.

The fruit trees especially our two pear trees buds are fattening up, the cordon gooseberries which I was growing in pots but have recently replanted them into the garden are now showing healthy leaf bud growth.

Everything in the garden is awakening after the winter sleep, that’s not to say winter has departed far from it remember Hurricane Doris, before I digress to some other topic, the main job that I am doing at the moment is feeding plants that I have growing in pots.

Now normal gardeners will be reading this (hopefully) and thinking why is he feeding plants in pots at this moment in time. Well I garden differently to any other that I have met or read about and on this occasion I am thinking like a plant. What does a plant want after its winter hibernation, just like a bear it wants food and that is what I have been doing to my outdoor pot plants.

You would probably say ok he’s been adding fresh compost as a top up and you would be wrong. What I do is scrape away as much of the surface soil or compost to a reasonable depth taking care not to damage any surface roots of the the plant. To this small trench I add the food and by food I use banana skins, kitchen paper towels, small amounts of citrus peel and used teabags.

All of this material rots away into the growing medium giving your plant a slow release of goodness which by the powers of nature will find its way into the plants roots. Simple inexpensive way of feeding your plants, do the same to your garden plants. Come on there daylight hours left get outside and feed the garden.

One of the easiest veg to start off now are broad beans, sow them in modules or pots if the garden soil is too cold to plant out in a month or so. In the ground sow the beans 5cm -7cm deep, 20cm apart in blocks, leave 45cm between blocks or they will work just as well planted in big containers. Then wait for the reward of eating them raw from the pod when they are young and the skins are thin. That to me is when broad beans are at their best.

Until next time Good Gardening

Posted by on March 7th, 2017


February in the garden

This is an in between time, a place on the edge. Winter is still with us, but within this is an awareness that Spring will soon come.

This is the time when the ideas we have been incubating in the winter months begin to come more of a reality. Like the life force of the land, everything is moving from the inside to the outside.

The Celtic festival of Imbolc celebrates the awakening of the life force. As you walk outside in the garden or countryside look for where nature is stirring. Keep a nature journal and write in the daily changes that you observe around you.

Keeping track of the weather is always interesting to look back on as well as first sightings of birds and plants, first trees unfurling their leaves etc.

If you are a regular walker in parks or the countryside or have one in the garden, choose one tree to observe over a year. Document the year’s cycle, the seasonal changes in the environment and wildlife.

Record the bird and insect life and the native plants growing nearby. Write about the different atmospheres that different times of the year bring and how the tree changes in different weathers.

Take photos from far away to close up, observe its place in the environment, let it feed your mind and write about in your journal from your heart and self feeling.

Do the same with one particular plant at a time, take photos beginning now in early spring. If you don’t know the plants name then use the photos for identification and use a good field guide when you are back indoors.

Really look into the plants history, why is it growing there, what are its uses, is it edible, is it used in herbal remedies. Get to know the plant inside out, photograph it in all its stages of growth as plants change considerably when growing from a seedling to a mature plant.

Once you have started you will go on in this manner to increase your knowledge of plants, plants have a lot to teach us so let them.

Until next time Good Gardening

Posted by on February 8th, 2017


January in the garden

If you remember last I wrote a bit about dowsing with a pendulum in the garden, I’d like to continue on this theme if I may.

A dowsing pendulum can be a very successful tool when working with plants. It can help you decide which plants to place where in the garden, plants can be very particular about position. Is the soil right? Is the light right? Is the moisture right?

I have heard of a case of a shrub struggling to grow in a garden until the owner took a dowsing pendulum and used it to find the ideal place in the garden for the shrub, it is now thriving.

What some people don’t realise is that plants react very well to dowsing because they are very much part of the natural environment and the pendulum can pick up whether they are happy or not in their surroundings. Whether they are healthy and have been grown naturally rather than forced. The life forceps much stronger in a plant that has had the right time to mature naturally.

Once plants are happy in your garden or in your home you can still continue to work with your pendulum to keep them happy and healthy. You can check what kind of care you should give a plant. When to feed, when to prune or whether it’s time to split a group of plants.

In other words whether you use dowsing with a pendulum or not it teaches us to be mindful about our plants and the plants will respond to this by growing well.

Time to start thinking of what we are going to grow in 2017, are we going to stay with annuals, vegetables etc that never let us down or try new varieties.

Planning is easier said then done, I am not one of the best at planning but the growing season can be short or it can stretch through to November it’s England don’t forget, so a plan for all eventualities might be good.

One thing never neglect the birds that visit your gardens, please put out food for them in feeders and in the spring and summer they will repay you with their songs and they will eat your garden pests.

I grow fruit trees and I hang feeders on the branches until just before the blossom is fully out and I found that last year I had a bumper crop, could be just a coincidence with the weather etc being right. I like to think it was the birds.

Until next time Good Gardening

Posted by on January 17th, 2017


December in the Garden - dowsing and the garden

A lot of us try to develop our gardening skills further, designing gardens for different uses, that is spiritual sanctuaries, vegetable patches etc. Even outside the confines of the home garden we become involved with community gardens or taking on an allotment, choosing to be more in control of our food, going back to nature and organically gardening.

In different ways, we are going back to the soil, realising how important it is to be in touch with nature in our increasingly busy and technical world.

Dowsing can be a very successful tool when you are working with plants, it can help you tune into nature and your subconscious, allowing you to see your surroundings in a new and deeper way. Dowsing can help you decide can help you how to design your garden, which plants to place where in the garden. It can help you make decisions about companion planting, choosing the best time to fertilise or feed your garden.

Plants react very well to dowsing after all they are the natural environment and the pendulum can pick up whether they are happy or not in their surroundings. The life force is much stronger in a plant that has had the right time to mature naturally.

If you keep an open mind you will learn that dowsing and gardening can combine, there is always something us gardeners can learn. Dowsing is a very ancient art, one that was absolutely natural, a normal part of everyday life in the past. But we have grown more technological in the way we look at the world and distanced ourselves from nature and the land, we have lost or at least forgotten a lot of knowledge that was taken for granted by our ancestors.

Dowsing has become ‘new age’, something a bit weird, something you don't really take seriously even something you laugh at. But the fact is that is that it does work even though no one can explain it, different experts have different ideas but the important thing is that it does work.

Often the first reaction to the unknown is to be sceptical. How does it work? Why does it work? It can’t possibly work,it’s all rubbish! That is often the path that our modern minds take. I’ll leave it there if I may and continue in a future column.

Until then I wish you the reader a Merry Christmas and a Peaceful New Year

Posted by on December 6th, 2016

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