Local charity helps Heinz staff to Think Ahead

Local charity Think Ahead Stroke Group spent a day at HJ Heinz’s Kitt Green factory, providing information and advice on healthy lifestyles to promote Stroke prevention to the staff, alongside a number of the Borough’s health advisors.

Think Ahead were joined by the local Smoking Cessation team, Bridgewater Trust NHS nurses and Wigan Leisure Trust’s Active Living Team, offering a ‘one-stop drop-in shop’ for Stroke prevention.

HJ Heinz staff from round-the-clock shifts at the factory were invited to have their blood pressure tested, try out fitness activities on an X-Box Kinect games console and benefit from all the information and advice of the local community health advisors.

The visit formed part of Think Ahead’s first Raising Stroke Awareness Week, which ran from Monday 7th to Friday 11th of May, including National Stroke Awareness Day on Tuesday 8th.  Wigan Mayor, Councillor Joy Birch, Wigan Athletic Goalkeeper Ali-Al-Habsi and Think Ahead’s patron - Andy Burnham MP, all showed support for the Stroke awareness-raising public activities throughout the week.

Think Ahead were invited to the Kitt Green facility near Wigan to help staff recognise the symptoms of Stroke, following a member of HJ Heinz staff’s own experience of Stroke during a shift at the factory.  Think Ahead used the opportunity to advise workers on all aspects of healthy living, which research suggests may help reduce the risk of Stroke by as much as 50%.

Think Ahead operates across Wigan, Leigh and the surrounding area, working with Stroke Survivors, their Carers and families.  They provide information, advice and support through their unique long term “Living with Stroke” programme, as well as organising a range of suitable social and educational activities for members.

Carol Sankey, Executive Manager at Think Ahead said:  “It was great going down to the Kitt Green factory and meeting all the HJ Heinz staff.  Everyone was really keen to hear from us and get involved on the day.

“Strokes can happen to anyone, at any time and at any age.  At Think Ahead, we’re determined to make workplaces across Wigan and Leigh safer places, by making people aware of the signs of Stroke so that they are able to respond quickly.

“Around 1,000 people experience Stroke across Wigan and Leigh every year and research tells us that 50% of those cases may be avoidable, by making sensible lifestyle choices like stopping smoking, eating healthily and drinking alcohol in moderation.”

Heather Hardisty, Health and Wellbeing Co-ordinator at Kitt Green said:  “I’m delighted that Think Ahead could come and take part in our Health and Wellbeing day here at Kitt Green.  Stroke is an issue that is close to our hearts here and it was great to see everyone interested in the information on offer.

“At HJ Heinz, we want our staff to stay as healthy and happy as possible, which is why the Stroke Health and Wellbeing Day has been so valuable.  Hopefully everyone will have gone away having learned something new, and maybe even been inspired to make positive changes towards a healthier lifestyle.”