Julie Roberts

Julie Roberts

Health Improvement Professional

I can honestly say that being part of HENRY training and parent groups locally has been the most useful project that I have ever been involved in. It helps parents and practitioners alike to identify lifestyle issues and find their own solutions to them. Practitioners stop being the ‘experts’ and begin supporting families more effectively.

I used to be a teacher but since 2005 I have been a Health Improvement Practitioner in the Children & Young People’s Public Health Team in Sheffield.

My roles have included Healthy Early Years, Healthy Schools and other health promotion programmes. When I attended a planning meeting about HENRY in Sheffield I came back so enthused I could imagine myself getting involved.

The HENRY training was delivered by the nicest people I think I have met. HENRY trainers practice what they preach and I don’t think that I have ever felt so well supported. It was tricky to get used to the HENRY approach and programme at first, but after a while I got into the swing of things. Recently one of the HENRY group programme facilitators here in Sheffield described the effect of getting ingrained in the HENRY approach as “being HENRY-fied”. You begin to eat, breathe and sleep all things HENRY. This level of immersion has benefited me professionally and personally. For most of my life I have had a difficult relationship with food, but being involved with HENRY coincided with an interest in Mindfulness, and a Yoga retreat to India. The three things in combination have led to me developing a much healthier approach to food (I have always been very physically active) and as a result I am now happy with my body shape and size. Now I eat away from my desk and use the stairs at least once and sometimes twice a day (I work on the 7th floor!).

I guess that I have always been pretty bossy (teachers usually are!) and I used to take an ‘expert approach’ to working with families where I would give them information and advice, but I almost always felt like they weren’t actually going to act on it. It has been a breath of fresh air to move away from this kind of approach. Professionally, HENRY has helped me to look at the needs of the people I work with, to use a solution-focused and strengths-based approach. I know my colleagues feel the same. We build a relationship with parents (Family Partnership Model), we start with where they are, identify what they are already doing, and use motivational interviewing to help them identify small but achievable goals.

As well as training we recently started delivering HENRY group programmes in Sheffield and the effect that it is having on the families attending is astounding. It’s amazing to see their confidence grow as they make positive changes. After a while lots of small changes add up to a big change and they end up providing a really healthy start in life for their children. To quote one of our HENRY group programme trainers, “Say what you like about HENRY, it works!”

Facilitator and parent HENRY family programme
The HENRY approach

Supporting parents to provide a healthy start in life for their children

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