Interview with: Lesley Jones, Director of Public Health, Bury Council

This month, Your Local Bury interviewed Lesley Green who gave us an insight into her vital role at Bury Council and the current covid-19 pandemic.

Can you tell the readers a little bit about yourself?

What can I tell you? I live with my partner, two of my three grown up children and our dog, Jasper. Under normal times I love to go to gigs and music festivals, watch FC United of Manchester and go exploring in our VW Camper.

Have you had to study specific courses in Health for your job?

Yes, to become a Director of Public Health you need to be a registered Specialist in Public Health. You can become registered either by completing a 5 year Public Health Specialty Training Programme or for those who have worked in Public Health for some time, by completing a detailed portfolio. Both routes include completing a Masters in Public Health. I took the Portfolio route to registration.

You worked for 20 years in Bolton first as a Senior Health Promotion officer and then as a Deputy Director of Public Health. What was your time like in Bolton?

I loved working in Bolton! Like Bury, it’s the people I worked with that made the job so enjoyable. There was more money for public health in those days too so we were able to invest more in programmes like the Big Bolton Healthcheck that made a real difference to improving health and reducing inequalities.

What made you move to Bury Council?

It was a very difficult decision after working in Bolton for so long but when the opportunity to become the Director of Public Health came along in a borough which seemed to have a strong and forward-looking commitment to Public health – it was an opportunity that was just too good to miss.

What is your key role within Health and Bury Council?

As Director of Public Health, I am responsible for determining the overall vision and objectives for public health in Bury based on an understanding of the health needs of the borough. My responsibilities include:

– ‘health improvement’ which includes, for example, strategies for increasing levels of physical activity, good nutrition, and reducing the levels of smoking and harmful alcohol consumption;

-‘wider determinants of health’ for example looking at the impacts of housing, environment, employment and income on health;

-health protection; which includes protection from infectious diseases such as Covid-19 and environmental harms such as air pollution.

-healthcare public health; which includes responsibility for commissioning services such as sexual health services, health visiting, substance misuse services and working with the rest of the health and care system to improve quality of care and equality of access.

You have been the director of public Health now for 7 years. Has the role changed in all those years?

The role of Director of Public Health has actually changed very little in the 150 years the role has existed. Whatdoeschangeisthenatureofthe public health issues faced by our populations and the organisational systems we work in. During my 7 years in Bury, the main public health challenges have and continue to be health inequalities and the causes and consequences of long term conditions such as heart disease, cancers, respiratory conditions, musculoskeletal conditions and mental health. Obviously, in this last year Covid-19 has dominated our work.

The current covid -19 pandemic has affected so much of our everyday lives. How do you think Bury council and also the people of Bury have coped and do you think we will see a return back to normal in 2021?

I’ve been so impressed with how local people, the council and our partners in all sectors have pulled together and put all hands to the pump to control the virus, support local people, businesses and keep local health and care services going. It’s been a very tough time for many people but we have a ray of hope on the horizon with the development of vaccines for Covid-19. We are busy planning for delivery of this now and I’d hope we can get more back to normal from next spring. Hopefully, we can make this a new and better normal building on what we have learnt through this pandemic.

Moving forward into next year, are there any council or community initiatives that you’re excited about?

I think I’m most excited about the potential for our new Bury 2030 strategy and the way in which it aims to put local people at the heart of work to improve quality of life and reduce inequalities through a neighbourhood approach. Part of this includes our Physical Activity Strategy which focuses particularly on promoting walking and cycling which will bring multiple benefits to physical health, mental wellbeing, clean air and inclusion.

So, when you are not working what do you do to keep mentally & physically fit?

I like to get out walking in the fresh air and it is important to me to keep in touch with family and friends which has been made possible by digital technology during Covid-19. I’ve also just acquired a drum kit. I am an absolute beginner but I’m already finding it very therapeutic.

Any advice you can give to our readers, regarding getting their health & wellbeing on track for 2021?

I think the best advice comes in the form of the New Economics Foundation 5 ways to wellbeing: Connect – make and keep connections with people.

Be Active – any kind of physical activity that you enjoy.

Take notice – be aware and mindful of your surroundings.

Learn – try something new or expand on something you already enjoy.

Give – random acts of kindness.

QuickFire Questions!

What’s your go-to Christmas film?

I don’t think I’ve got one in particular. I’ll curl up and enjoy whatever’s on.

What type of exercise do you do to keep in shape?

I enjoy walking and a bit of running. I also get out on my bike when I can.

Your favourite dish you like to cook or eat?

Any veggie curry. Maybe I shouldn’t admit to this as a Director of Public Health but it’s probably between The Chocolate Café and Irwell Works Brewery in Ramsbottom. All in moderation of course!



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