collective voice

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Your Choice, Or is it?

October 11, 2019 13:35

Being overweight or obese in childhood has profound impacts on the health and life chances of our children.

Yet we live in a democracy where free choice is a democratic right and the consequences of those choices seems to be everyone responsibility!  In my view, Professor Dame Sally Davies makes the right point, we live in a society where we are (as a population) addicted to sugar, high carbohydrate diet. 

Seven months ago, I swapped to a very low sugar and carb lifestyle, (sometimes called KETO, it is similar to the 800 diet from Michael Mosley).  For the first 4-5 days I had the sweats as my body moved off the carbs and started to burn fat instead.  I have to say the change in both my weight, my mental health and general feeling of energy has remained high, I don’t even feel hungry…

I share this personal story as an empathy view. I was addicted to sugar and carbs and I wasn’t eating that much processed food.  

The facts

Consequences of childhood obesity on health

Many children who are obese or overweight suffer physical health issues, including type 2 diabetes, asthma and musculoskeletal pain, and experience mental health problems, such as depression. These affect the quality of our children’s lives, their education and their life chances. In later life, these can reduce their productivity, earnings and shorten their lives. 


The Agenda

The Government is setting out an approach to public service delivery that emphasises the power of civic society to tackle the big social challenges that we face. This approach is placing more emphasis on the need to:

1.           Realign many of the current social programmes so that they reflect the power of a ‘Society’ response to social challenges rather than a State dominated solution.

2.          Develop supportive, not coercive, approaches to better health and well-being and the appropriate use of public services.

3.          Develop approaches that maximise both choices and responsibility.

4.          Develop targeted and segmented interventions aimed at specific groups with a special focus on assisting the poor and young, and in so doing, reduce inequality.

5.          Develop approaches that demonstrate savings and value for money. They should be co-created - designed by and with the involvement of the target audiences.

It seems Dame Sally is offering a different interpretation in public space a little like the smoking ban, using what we would term a “SMACK” ( I explain this below) If you try to eat or drink unhealthy snacks on public transport you will faced some type of yet to be explained punishment,  a fine or something similar …

The Cost/Value Matrix©

The Cost/Value Matrix© is a conceptual device used by to represent four different forms of interventions that can be employed to promote change in individuals and groups:

‘Nudge’, ‘Shove’, ‘Hug’ and ‘Smack’.


Most successful social interventions use a mix of these four. It should also be noted that the four forms of intervention are not absolutely distinct.

The matrix is constructed using two axes, active and passive choosing and positive and negative enforcement. In most circumstances what is required is a mix of interventions that work on both the active system two and passive system one mindsets and encompasses both rewards and penalties. 

For more information. On the cost value matrix please get in touch with and Paula will share our full white paper.

So, what next…

I stand firmly with Dame Sally, we must take positive action in education and behaviour change for ourselves and the future generations, the human body is not designed to consume the level of sugar and carbohydrates that we as a nation consume today. The data is staring us in our faces.

What we have understood in terms of designing for behaviour change is you CANNOT fix people, it doesn’t work, we must ENABLE people, and this needs us to truly understand what is important the people who as a society we need to support to change for not only for their health but for our ability to afford to care for each other.

SO, here is my question for us all...

In terms of your weight and eating, what’s important to you?


I would love to find out

ICE supports 'Stay Well'

November 7, 2016 17:04

Traditional marketing may not hold all the answers if you really want to change behaviours this winter. Why not use this high profile campaign as a platform to really mobilise your community into positive choices and preventative action?

It’s getting colder now and even a small illness can have a profound and sometimes life changing impact on our more vulnerable citizens and their families. Here are just some of our recommendations on how you can activate your whole community to ‘stay well’ and reduce the demand on already stretched services this winter:

Start early – it’s going to take time to reach the people you need to and more than one form of communication to engage them. You don't have to run out of time; start your conversations now and keep talking to build momentum that carries through until Feb/March.

Mobilise your ‘assets’ – on their turf and in their style. Staying well affects everybody, but different audiences need to engage in different ways. It may be a health professional, faith leader, community centre event, a radio interview or something else that motivates someone to act. Map out who can help you and take time to understand what they need to get the message across, and then work with them to deliver it. You can waste a lot of time and money producing communications that you think will work - why not engage with people and get them to share and push out the messages that will definitely work, instead? You can hand out your materials in person and sell the message, and save post costs at the same time.

Use posters as an opportunity for a conversation – we all send posters out to our stakeholders, but when was the last time you remembered a poster and then did something different as a result? The average GP surgery has scores of posters on the wall and a captive audience, but how do you make your message stick? The answer could be to provide your front line people with practical tips to support the campaign; staff could hand out a checklist or top tips to every patient, customer or citizen, or simply tell someone about the campaign and why it’s important. They may not be the ‘target audience’ but ask them to check up on Mum, Dad, Grandma, a neighbour, etc. as well. Call every surgery, advice centre and receptionist and ask for help. 

Integrate messaging – we’ve all heard of silo mentality and the challenges it brings, so move on by getting the right people in the room and make a deal to cross refer around your shared goals. If surgeries are giving out flu jabs, hand out a repeat prescription reminder at the same time. How about asking your membership, patient representatives, and community groups to donate a blanket or woolly hat to a foodbank by providing a collection point? Ask your smoking cessation service to hand out healthy recipes from your healthy weight team in return for healthy weight teams handing out advice about NRT (nicotine replacement treatment). Facilitate a conversation so that mental health and physical health teams swap advice. Ask your integrated care or social care teams to hand out room thermometers to every family they come into contact with, the return being some great reputation building PR.

Optimise your search  you’ve spent a lot of time creating the most useful information for your website, but no one is looking at it because they can’t find you. Talk to the techs about your online search tags and make sure that when someone is looking for treatment for common ailments, the results bring up a link to your stay well information too. Link some NHS Choices videos to your website and spend more time on building followers and friends, not just on the content.

Practice what you preach – do you have a ‘stay well’ strategy in your workplace? NHS, local authority and older employees often have some of the highest absence rates in the UK, especially over the winter. What can you do in your own organisation to keep people well?  Invest in some office sanitizer/hand wash and put a reminder about repeat prescriptions on the back of toilet doors?  ‘Spread the warmth’ yourself on your social media accounts? Organise a food parcel for a local charity to raise awareness? The list is goes on…

We all have a responsibility to keep ourselves and loved ones as well as we can over the winter; it doesn’t have to be all about adverts and posters. Let’s get creative and make a difference on the ground. 

No time? Too much to do? Targets to hit? Talk to the ICE team about how we can support you to make better happen; we’ve been activating communities across the country since 1999.

Together, we can really make a difference this winter.

For more information, contact

Top tips for staying well this winter

October 22, 2015 14:22

Earlier this month, we announced our support for the national ‘Stay Well’ campaign. Carrying on from this, here are our top tips for staying well this winter. 

When it comes to sleep, quality comes before quantity – longer nights and darker mornings can leave you feeling groggy and in need of more sleep, but oversleeping means you are being less active and are more susceptible to storing energy as fat.  With so much focus on the importance of sleep, it may seem surprising to hear that oversleeping can be harmful to our wellbeing and physical health. To combat the lethargy that can come with winter, make sure that you are getting high quality sleep; try a mug of hot milk in the evenings instead of a caffeinated drink or limiting your use of any smartphones/laptops in the hours leading up to your bedtime.

Cosy cooking – rainy days and dark evenings can leave us craving hearty and substantial food. Luckily, ‘tis the season for parsnips in their prime and comforting cabbages. A pot of scouse is a great way to fuel your body; the carrots, beetroot and onion will help towards your five a day and the potatoes and lamb (or ‘blind scouse’ if you’d prefer no meat) will answer your cravings and warm your stomach. Winter soups are the perfect solution to runny noses and coughs and sneezes. Take the humble tomato soup, make it chunky or smooth (whatever your preference) and go from there. You can keep it classic or try some extra additions such as basil, chilli or red pepper. The antioxidants provided from the tomatoes means that you have a delicious and nutritious meal that can be frozen and eaten throughout the winter months; a winter warmer as and when you desire!

Don’t bottle your emotions up – if your usual routes for letting out stress are not available due to bad weather (maybe you like to take a long walk to clear your head), look for any alternatives that are available. Walking around a room for a few minutes every hour is an effective way to channel your energy and increase your activity levels. Making lists of things to do is great, but make sure to include things that you did get done, and not just things that are left to do.

Make your own body heat – it can be tempting to go into hibernation for the winter and not get our exercise gear out until the sun rears its glorious head, but our bodies and minds need exercise come rain or shine. If you’re a fan of tennis, how about moving your games to an indoors venue so you can ace in style without rain disturbing play? Why not take up a new sport? Physical activity is a great way to combat winter tiredness and will help to improve your physical and mental health, as well as your sleeping pattern and your concentration levels.

Warm your hearts – with the temperature dropping, feelings of social isolation can worsen and people can be left feeling more vulnerable and less resilient to everyday situations. The harsher climate can really affect the lives of the elderly. A quick knock on their door to check the house is warm enough and to see if there’s anything you can do to support them over the winter can really make the world of difference. Are they prepared for the drop in temperature? Are they up to date with their prescriptions? Are they physically able to get around if the roads ice over? You could even bring over some soup from your frozen supply!

Battling a cold? - get some garlic and ginger down your neck. As well as improving blood circulation and lowering blood pressure, garlic is a great way to add flavour to your meals without reaching for the salt shaker. Adding ginger to your meals can ease your symptoms as ginger has anti-inflammatory properties that help to boost your immune system and fend off viruses. Ginger infused tea is diaphoretic, meaning it will warm you from the inside and promote perspiration. It’s also very tasty, so you don’t have to be sick to enjoy a cup or two!

Wrap up – for those who really feel the cold, thermals are a great solution. Whether it’s a thermal hat, underwear or a body warmer, you will be more insulated from the cold. Thermals are moving with the times so you don’t have to worry about lugging bulky items around under your coat. Instead, thermals are now more discreet and effective than ever! Layers on layers are also a great way to capture heat; protecting yourself from chills will help you to stay well this winter.

For more information contact