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Organisers say health and wellbeing festival in Wick will offer ‘a nice mix’

By Alan Hendry

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Kirsteen Campbell (left) and Rebecca Wymer are chairperson and vice-chairperson respectively of North Highland Women’s Wellbeing Hub.
Kirsteen Campbell (left) and Rebecca Wymer are chairperson and vice-chairperson respectively of North Highland Women’s Wellbeing Hub.

Healthcare campaigners are preparing for a wellbeing festival in Wick next month that will feature around 40 exhibitors as well as some guest speakers.

The one-day event at Wick High School is being organised by North Highland Women’s Wellbeing Hub (NHWWH) and follows on from an initial festival at Lyth Arts Centre last year.

“To be honest, we could have filled it a couple of times over, so this year we decided we were going to go for a bigger location,” NHWWH vice-chairperson Rebecca Wymer said.

“We’re really looking forward to it and it’s coming round fast.”

The NHWWH Health and Wellbeing Festival will take place on Sunday, June 9, from 11am to 3pm, at Wick High School, with free entry.

There will be food stallholders as well as health exhibitors and representatives from community groups.

Talks will include one by the Sexual Assault Response Coordination Service about smear tests, the myths around them and how to make them more comfortable.

A human rights expert will be travelling up from Glasgow to present a workshop on human rights in relation to healthcare, while the programme will also include a panel and Q&A featuring local women who work in male-dominated industries.

“We’re hoping it’s a nice mix because there’s a fine line with health things,” Ms Wymer said. “It can just be information overload and we’re trying to get it to be kind of a nice day out as well.

“We managed to get funding through Stroupster Wind Farm Community Benefit Fund. That means it’s a completely free event, and it’s open to any age.

“Home-Start will do a kids’ area so there will be kids’ activities as well.

“Hopefully it shouldn’t be too heavy a day but the information is there if people want to find it.”

Meanwhile, NHWWH’s support groups are helping hundreds of women in the north Highlands.

“The reason that we set up predominantly was to provide support groups to local women, to fill that gap and to build a network of women who can help each other,” Ms Wymer explained.

“We’ve got four support groups and between them there are just about 900 women.”

NHWWH members are awaiting a report following a visit to Caithness by the Scottish Human Rights Commission at the end of October 2023.

“They’re not just covering healthcare, they are covering all sorts of things,” Ms Wymer said. “But the reason they came up was healthcare so it’s quite a good focus.”

The group’s petition – seeking an in-depth review of women’s health services in Caithness and Sutherland – is still with the petitions committee at the Scottish Parliament.

“People can still put in evidence, they can still put in statements or stories,” Ms Wymer pointed out.”

NHWWH remains in regular contact with NHS Highland on gynaecological care.

“Every six weeks we meet with the NHS Highland gynaecology team online and they give us an update about waiting times and we talk about what could be done practically to make it a bit easier for people,” Ms Wymer said.

Poster for the NHWWH Health and Wellbeing Festival taking place in Wick in June.
Poster for the NHWWH Health and Wellbeing Festival taking place in Wick in June.

NHWWH had a “really good breakthrough” when Ms Wymer designed a patient discharge guide for women who have undergone surgery. A small card contains a QR code that gives access to web links containing all the relevant information.

“All the links are clickable rather than it being another piece of paper that just gets lost,” she said.

“We’ve had it published through the NHS, and every woman who has a surgery in NHS Highland gets given one of these cards. They scan the QR code and they’ve got all the information they need.

“You put it in your purse and it doesn’t get lost. When you’re leaving surgery, your head is full of mince and you don’t want to sit and read a booklet.”

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