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2nd November 2015

Movember’s focus on male health

Sam Bradshaw, probation health trainer

I BEGAN working as a health trainer over five years ago and I love my job!

Seeing the positive changes that offenders can make in a short time with my support is extremely rewarding; as is seeing the difference between the individual in their first session with me and their last.

Offenders are referred to our service by their Offender Managers for an initial health assessment. Those whose health assessment indicates that they would benefit from sessions with the health trainer will then be seen by me while health issues are addressed. These may include looking at things such as depression, anxiety, health, weight, fitness, smoking cessation and reduction of alcohol intake, among others.

With each offender, the number of sessions they have with me can vary drastically depending on what it is that the individual needs help with, the severity of their issue(s), and how many issues they are struggling with. A straight forward case would last for around six sessions. If an individual is suffering with multiple issues, they can quite often need more than a dozen sessions.

Health trainer sessions cover a variety of issues, and are┬ádependent on the individual’s needs. I aim to build a strong rapport with each individual, so that they feel comfortable discussing personal issues honestly. Once this relationship has been established the real work can begin and focus will be put into the relevant areas.

Sessions can include; building up self-perception, confidence and self esteem; raising drug/alcohol awareness; setting goals to reduce or quit substance misuse, followed by continuous support throughout the process; addressing mental health issues such as depression and anxiety; advice and support regarding healthy eating and exercise; sexual health and relevant advice and support in relation.

However, don’t be tricked into thinking health trainer sessions are simply offering advice to the offender and telling him what he should and shouldn’t be doing. The health trainer sessions are aimed at goals created by the offender, nobody else, and so it’s something they personally want to aim towards in their life: they’re the ones in control and they’re the ones that make the choices.

I also provide services such as getting the individual registered at doctors and dental surgeries. Also, if the offender needs help with their eating habits we work together to devise a healthy, yet achievable eating plan. By working together with local gyms, I am also able to give the offenders free gym passes so they are able to put their time into exercise at their own pace.

The vast majority of the men I work with are very successful in the goals we work towards, whether it be that they have stopped using drugs, have started using their gym passes and eating healthier, or that they have been able to build up their self-confidence, reducing their feelings of anxiety and depression.

In my opinion this is due to the relationship built up between myself and the offender. Due to such positive changes being made by offenders in themselves and their lifestyles as a result of the service, I think the service is brilliant.