We finished January with the successful launch of two regular courses for Heartlink members and supporters. Both are being held on Fridays at the venue for our Community Hub, Greenford Park Community Hall, close to Southall and Greenford.
At 11am till noon we have started a weekly Tai Chi (Qicong) course delivered by an experienced trainer. At the first session we had 30 attendees, and it will run for 10 weeks.
From 2 to 4pm on Fridays, at the same venue, we're holding our second IT training course, providing basic IT familiarisation using iPads. Attendees are also be helped to set up an e-mail account and to log on to NHS Services, including their own health information. We started the course with 11 new students who are assisted during the sessions by several more IT experienced Heartlink members. The course is now full and, if demand exists, we will run the course again after Easter.
Both these courses are targeted at helping local heart patients, by providing good gentle strengthening exercise and by helping them get basic IT skills and access to NHS services and communications. Digital exclusion is a big problem for many of our members.
Over 30 Heartlink members and supporters braved atrocious weather conditions to learn about echocardiogram tests from Professor Rosen on the evening of Thursday 4th January, at our first monthly meeting of 2024.
Many attendees had undergone echocardiogram tests themselves and were keen to understand how they work and what useful information they can tell cardiac health specialists. We learned that the different types of echocardiogram tests are some of the most revealing tests carried out to diagnose the main workings of the heart. At the same time, they have negligible risks or side effects, even if repeated many times. However, carrying out the tests requires trained and skilled health professionals. After a fascinating presentation, there was a lively question and answer session with many questions from people who had been the subject of echocardiogram tests themselves.
Click HERE for more information from the British Heart Foundation and to WATCH A VERY INFORMATIVE VIDEO.
Following a successful first course in 2023, Heartlink is starting its second course in early in 2024. The course was developed in partnership with Age UK Ealing and covers IT familiarisation and training.
It is aimed at those who are not familiar with using modern smart devices. The overall objective is to help combat digital exclusion amongst local communities and enable people to use the technology to access and deal with local NHS services, including accessing their own patient records.
13 members and supporters learned to use iPads to benefit from the first course, which was held weekly at our Community Hub location, Greenford Park Community Hall. The second course will be held at the same venue on Thursdays. Contact us if you are interested.
Heartlink’s Community Hub on the Southall/Greenford borders hosted its popular Christmas party on the afternoon of 21st December. Members and supporters were treated to a large selection of sandwiches, snacks, mince pies, cakes, fruit and treats, together with tea, coffee and special Christmas mulled wine. Everyone chatted with old friends and new acquaintances, for some who live on their own, it was a great opportunity to socialise. After the food everyone took part in the raffle and the team memory game. We all congratulated members Dolly and Amrik on their special anniversary. The hugely successful party marked the culmination of the first year of operation of our community hub.
80 Heartlink members packed out the dining area at West Middlesex Golf Club on 14th December and enjoyed a delicious Christmas meal in great company. Members celebrated the progress Heartlink has made in all areas of its work over the last year. After the food, our raffle raised vital funds for our activities in 2024. We were honoured by several special guests who joined us. These included:
· Councillor Mrs Mohinder Midha, with her husband, who during her year as Mayor worked tirelessly for us.
· Jaskaran Singh from West London Asian Society and Southall Community Alliance, with his wife.
· Councillors Harbajan and Ranjit Dheer, who have been steadfast supporters of Heartlink for many years.
· …and, last but not least, our President, Professor Jaspal Kooner who founded us in 1994 and took time out of his busy schedule to attend.
Heartlink had a wonderful reception from Dairy Meadow Primary School in Southall, and over 50 of it’s year 6 pupils when we visited on 6th December at the invitation of Deputy Head Alex Feldman. We went to talk to them about the heart and heart health as part of their studies about the circulatory system. In the lively question and answer session we were amazed by their level of knowledge and we shared some important heart facts with them. They were also keen to tell us what they know about a healthy diet and lifestyle, and we told them of the risks of lack of exercise, smoking and vaping etc. Many of the children told us that they have family members who suffer from heart problems. We were very pleased to see the school’s own feedback on our visit on their website, see:
Thank you to Dairy Meadow Primary School and Alex Feldman for an inspiring visit.
Heartlink was honoured to be awarded Team of the Year by Southall Community Alliance at its Annual Awards Ceremony on Saturday 25th November.
The award is in recognition of our work as a charity to help and support local heart patients and to raise awareness about heart disease in the local community. We have significantly increased our work and initiatives over the last year, and this award encourages us to redouble our efforts.
A group of 10 Heartlink members received the Award on the stage and took full part in a lively and varied award ceremony which recognised a number of local ‘unsung heroes’ and was attended by approximately 200 local people.
We would like to thank the Directors and Board of Southall Community Alliance for this honour. Heartlink members are pictured with Jaskaran Singh, a leading board member, Channi Singh, an internationally famous singer and musician, who is a proud product of the Southall community and our long-time supporter and benefactor Cllr Mrs Mohinder Midha, who presented many of the Awards.
A full hall of Heartlink members enjoyed the latest session of our Heartlink Community Hub on the afternoon of Thursday 16th November.
The popular Mr Chana led us in chair yoga for half an hour before we broke for some tasty winter food and drinks, followed by a couple of games of bingo. We were joined this time by our key supporter, local Councillor Mrs Mohinder Midha, who in her year as Mayor in 2022/23 raised major funds to help us campaign in the community.
Attendees tell us that the hub is particularly helpful in breaking up the isolation that many of us feel during the cold winter months, and enabling heart patients and others to chat about their problems in relaxed and informal surroundings.
The hub is held on the 3rd Thursday of every month at Greenford Park Community Hall at 18 Queens Ave, UB6 9BX, situated near to Greenford centre and Southall. Queens Ave is very close to Greenford Road, the Golf Links Estate and Dormers Wells and is on major bus routes 282, 92 and E5.
Our Heartlink Trustees Dr Harmandeep Singh and Dr Amarjit Sethi between them visited three Southall and Ealing Gurdwaras (places of worship) in late October and early November, to give short talks to the congregations about how to reduce their risks from heart disease.
This forms part of our campaign to raise awareness about heart disease in the wider community.
On each occasion they were supported by a team of Heartlink members who ran a stall and talked to attendees as they arrived and afterwards. We gave out many leaflets and British Heart Foundation advice booklets and did our best to answer people’s questions about heart conditions and risks. The talks were very well received, and a good number of people asked for details about Heartlink & our activities.
The Gurdwaras were those on Western Rd and Havelock Rd, Southall and Drayton Bridge Road, Ealing.
Heartlink joins NHS vaccination campaign
Heartlink has joined the local NHS campaign to encourage people to have their winter COVID and flu vaccinations. The local campaign is being organised by the NHS North West London Integrated Care Board. We particularly encourage all Heartlink members and other heart patients to get their vaccinations as soon as possible, as we are particularly vulnerable to major problems if we catch either COVID or flu.
The NHS have provided us with a range of leaflets and posters to distribute to encourage vaccination take up and to advise people how to access NHS services. Some of these are also available in punjabi.
For several weeks we have been distributing these and encouraging people to have vaccinations at all our community events, including our visits to churches and gurdwaras, religious festivals, community groups, high streets, meetings and social sessions and our hospital information desk.
Please see full information about the vaccination programme below.
A lively and well attended Heartlink meeting on 2nd November heard an eye opening and informative presentation about the heart and the kidneys. It was given by Dr Marlene Pluess, Specialist Renal Registrar at Hammersmith Hospital, who explained:
· Where the kidneys are and what do they do
· What the causes of kidney disease are
· How kidney disease and heart disease are linked
· What we can do to keep our kidneys healthy
· That 3.5 million people in the UK have chronic kidney disease
You can see COPY OF THE PRESENTATION below.
The presentation was followed by a lively period of questions and discussion involving many of the Heartlink members in the audience. This particularly covered food and diet issues. Heartlink thanked Marlene for helping us to understand so much important information about the kidneys and their role.
On 11th October a team of Heartlink volunteers were invited to the Heston Depot of Quattro (UK) Ltd to carry out basic health checks on over 30 lorry and concrete mixer truck drivers. The Heartlink team included five volunteer health professionals who carried out blood pressure and heart rhythm checks. Drivers were given a copy of their results and were recommended to contact their GPs if the tests raised any concerns. All of them were given helpful British Heart Foundation advice leaflets and details of Heartlink. The invitation was made by management at the Depot to help their staff to be alerted to possible heart health issues. The initiative is part of our work to raise heart health awareness in the community.
Over 60 Heartlink members and supporters endorsed the Chairman's report covering our progress since 2021 and elected a 10-strong committee to run Heartlink for the next year. It also endorsed an impressive group of senior medical staff to serve as our Trustees, including our president, Professor Kooner.
The highly successful Annual General Meeting was held at West Middlesex Golf Club on 5th October and was followed by refreshments, a raffle and a good chat and catch up amongst attendees.
The AGM was Heartlink’s first since 2019 due to all the problems created by Covid, and the meeting paid tribute to a number of long-standing members and supporters who we had lost over that period.
Unlike many heart support groups, Heartlink survived the Covid crisis, maintaining whatever support to members that could be provided. Since fully restarting activities in early 2022 Heartlink has gone from strength to strength, running our regular meetings & our hospital information desk, setting up our community hub, organising social events and moving out to raise heart awareness in the community.
This has been due to the dedication and support of members and volunteers, and in particular:
· The successful work to set us up as a Registered Charity
· Huge support from our Trustees
· The support of the then Mayor of Ealing, Councillor Mrs Mohinder Midha in making us her chosen charity and campaigning for us
We were very pleased to be able to thank Councillor Midha in person as she attended the AGM and gave us a speech of support and encouragement.
All the attendees showed their huge appreciation of Trevor Davison, who has been Chairman since 2015 and a committee member since 1996. As people said, without Trevor and all he has done for us, Heartlink would not exist today. Trevor stepped down as chairman but will remain as an active committee member and was given a thank-you gift by the meeting.
On the weekend of 9th & 10th September, a large team of Heartlink members put together and ran a well-received Heartlink stall at the Sant Ishar Singh Ji Smagam. The event was held at the SKLP Sports and Community Centre and attended by several thousand Sikh worshippers. Our team made good use of the Heartlink gazebo in what was at times blistering heat over the weekend and shared our space with Krishanjit and our friends from the Pingalwara Charity. A lot of people joined us for a chat and to find about more about Heartlink. Many thanks to Dolly and Amrick, who kept us well fed over the weekend, and Mohinder who coordinated all our arrangements.
On Friday 8th September a group of Heartlink members went to Wembley Stadium to join over 600 hospital staff at the excellent NHS Trust Staff Awards ceremony for 2023. Along with many outstanding members of staff and teams, we were honoured by having our Secretary, Lolin Jones receive the award as runner up in the ‘Volunteer of the Year’ category. She was nominated by Ealing Hospital staff for having ‘worked tirelessly for Heartlink’ and local heart patients, and for her ‘infectious enthusiasm’. She received her award from Chief Executive of the Trust, Pippa Nightingale, assisted by, amongst others, TV personality Amanda Holden.
The London Northwest University Healthcare NHS Trust covers three hospitals, Ealing, Central Middlesex and Northwick Park. The ceremony was held in the Bobby Moore Room at Wembley Stadium, and the Heartlink table, like all other attendees, had drinks and a tasty dinner before the awards ceremony itself. We chatted with friends from The Trust and local community, both old and new. In the photo we are pictured with the current mayor of Ealing, Hitesh Taylor and Syed Mohinuddin, Chair of the Trust's Quality and Safety Committee.
Over 50 enthusiastic Heartlink members took part in an interactive CPR training session at our meeting at Ealing Hospital on the 7th September. The session was organised and introduced by Doctor Harmandeep Singh, Heartlink Trustee and Consultant in Cardiology and Acute Medicine at Ealing Hospital. He explained that being able to perform CPR on a heart attack victim can sometimes enable you to save their life while waiting for emergency services to arrive. He showed us some informative British Heart Foundation videos about CPR, answered questions and then demonstrated it using a special manikin (dummy).
Then groups of attendees tried the CPR technique themselves on one of four available manikins. They were each shown and advised by medical staff and friends of Heartlink, who had attended to help with the training. We would like to thank Eve Maylas, Ben Jackson, Gary La Touche and Adelle who came along to help us with the practical training.Following the success of this, we intend to do more training sessions for members at our future meetings.