Henry – A healthy first entry

WOBA team, WOBA

Friday August 26th 2016

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“Winning a WOBA has given us all a big boost – it’s given us the confidence to push forward.”

HENRY – Health, Exercise, Nutrition for the Really Young – is a charity, which is really packing a punch in a topic that is proving to be a struggle for humankind globally.

HENRY was established by an academic and a parenting and behaviour change expert who saw a need for an intervention to protect young children from the physical and emotional consequences of obesity during childhood and beyond. They recognised that intervening at the very beginning of a child’s life is crucial. Lifelong lifestyle habits are established very early in life, meaning it’s easier to learn healthy habits right from the start ather than to unlearn unhealthy habits later on.

Almost ten years on and the charity has been running its Healthy Families Programme through Children’s Centres since 2009. The programme reaches 8,000 families in 40 different local authority areas of England and Wales, including Oxfordshire.

Their practical, holistic, whole-family approach doesn’t preach to families. Instead it provides a fun and relaxed environment – alongside information about nutrition and physical activity – in which parents are supported to identify their own family lifestyle goals and solutions to achieve what will work for them. HENRY is proud of this approach which is the foundation of their success. Tom Berry, Head of Business Development says, “HENRY doesn’t tell people what to do. It delivers information and gently gives families ownership of the solutions to work into their own lives in a way that is realistic for them. This is an approach which has proven to be successful and most importantly, sustainable”

The charity has proved the effectiveness of its work through several studies published in academic journals and has been heralded a success by leading experts in the field. Professor David Haslam, Chair of National Obesity Forum says: “Evidence shows that HENRY is making a real impact in the fight against childhood obesity. Their multi-layered approach is transforming the lives of young children and their families across the country for good. HENRY has many of the answers to the challenges posed by the obesity crisis.”

Tom, based in HENRY’s office in Eynsham, entered the charity into the 2016 WOBAS. “This is the first time we’d entered. I’d thought about it the previous year, but the timing wasn’t right for us. This year, we felt ready. The whole process was fairly straightforward. We were given plenty of notice for things and the interview was a nice experience – it gave us the opportunity to talk about what we do and why”

HENRY went on to win the Charity Award, sponsored by First Sight Media and was described as ‘A truly inspirational charity that has a profound effect on the people it supports’

Tom says that winning the award has given the HENRY team in West Oxfordshire the opportunity to stop and recognise what they’ve been able to do. “It’s helped us to celebrate what we’ve achieved and given us all a big boost. It’s nice when someone independent recognises you. Winning a WOBA has given us the confidence to push forward – we are now expanding the work that we do into other elements of early health and child development, and we’re planning to build a new website. We are keen to explore potential collaboration opportunities with locally based businesses who are interested in supporting a national charity aiming to give children a healthy start in life.”