I hope 2019 has begun well and that the year ahead proves a good one for you all. Despite the ongoing political uncertainty in the UK and increasing strain on budgets, with little hope of improvement in the near term, I remain surprisingly upbeat. It may be the result of what seems to have been a successful London Christmas alcohol campaign, once the data firms up I shall certainly share more. It could be the prospect of the forthcoming City Health International Conference in Liverpool on 22 March, which promises some great speakers. Possibly it is a result of small, but welcome, signs of a willingness to explore new ways of thinking and working to reduce health inequalities in relation to mental health and hepatitis. Perhaps it’s having just secured funding to update our Safer Nightlife guidance, which aims to reduce drug related harms in the night time economy. I am sure the money has helped, you could say it has incentivised me.
Like many I have spent the last two weeks demonstrating a casual disregard for the advice provided by health organisations in terms of food and alcohol consumption. My levels of physical activity have not been all they should have been either, although I am full of good intentions for the coming year and have started to make my overfed body walk more.
The year is ending at a gallop. Brexit may have pretty much paralyzed the government in Westminster but in national, regional and local administrations the wheels still turn. Health issues still feature in the media, some, such as rough sleeping and alcohol intoxication, being seasonal fixtures. Universities and experts continue to provide new analysis, information and fresh angles on key subjects. This may all sound very self-evident to colleagues outside the UK, but it is reassuring, at least to me, to take a moment and remind ourselves that the earth has not stopped turning on its axis as issues over the backstop, second referendum, votes of no confidence etc. etc. dominate the news and conversation.
Ignorance is a lot like alcohol: the more you have of it, the less you are able to see its effect on you – Jay Bylsma
It’s been a very busy few weeks. I have been involved in finalising and rolling out a London wide alcohol campaign aimed at those out celebrating in the run up to Christmas. Let me thank all who have contributed, especially my colleague Jess. It’s been a serious piece of work getting partners on board and materials out on time. No mean feat. You can find out more about Eat, Pace, Plan here https://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/services/community-and-living/safer-city-partnership/Documents/christmas-toolkit-2018.pdf
On 3 December we hosted a major conference looking at how we can move to eradicate Hepatitis C. It was a great event that attracted over 200 attendees, a positive indication of the growing interest in this issue. It was also the biggest audience for one of our events since the first City Health Conference back in 2012.