Health & Wellbeing



Feeling frazzled?

Frazzled Cafe (a space for people who

might be feeling “frazzled” to talk and

share their stories, while meeting

others in a safe, supportive - and non

judgemental - environment) is

launching in Harpenden. It’s an

initiative started by Ruby Wax,

which began as a drop in at M&S

cafes in London. Now, thanks to

funding from the Harpenden Trust,

we have been able to set one up

with fully trained and qualified

facilitators in Harpenden. 

The cafe sessions are on Mondays (from 7.30pm - 8.45pm at the Eric Morecambe Centre).  It takes place in the Foyer area.

Christina and Sarah (above right) are the two facilitators.

The link to sign up is

More drivers than ever are switching off for cleaner air. ARE YOU AN IDLER?

Jan. Shock NHS medicines wastage revealed.

Did you know that 25% of NHS carbon emissions  are from medicines,,,and at least 10% of prescriptions in primary care need not have been issued.

These statistics along with more astonishing facts have been confirmed by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society following my visit to Manor Pharmacy in Harpenden who have displayed the huge amounts of returned medicines/prescriptions returned in just one week.

How can local residents help?

*Not to stockpile medicines, only

order repeats when you need then

and dispose of medicines you

don’t need appropriately, at your

local pharmacy.

*If patients find they are not taking

a particular medicines as

prescribed or are struggling with

side effects, in the first instance

then ask  community pharmacist

to provide help and advice. They

may be able to offer a medicines

review or arrange one with

the GP practice.

What can Pharmacies do?

*They need to make sure that patients are taking medicines they prescribe, so ensuring they keep up with regular medicine reviews and optimise patients’ treatment.

*They need to highlight medicines waste and look into ways of reusing patient-returned medicines and into environmentally friendly alternatives for single use plastics, such as medicines spoons and syringes, associated with medicines.

*Additionally pharmacists and pharmacy technicians in all sectors are responsible for medication reviews. These are an ideal opportunity to work with patients to reduce medicines waste by addressing concerns, improving compliance and de-prescribing medicines the patient no longer takes or are not appropriate.

How does wastage occur?

Evidence shows that the number of items dispensed by primary care providers has doubled in recent years, from an average of 10 per person in 1996 to around 20 per person by 2020. 

A recent report estimated that at least 10% of prescriptions in primary care need not have been issued... Adverse effects of medicines account for 6.5% of hospital admissions.

Every hospital admission and unnecessary prescription adds to the carbon footprint of the NHS, so we must work hard to prevent patient harm from medicines and associated waste in the system. The most environmentally friendly medicine is the one that is not required and not prescribed.

Repeat prescriptions make up an estimated 75% of all prescription items. Repeat prescription arrangements must ensure that patients’ requirements for medicines are checked at every issue. Medicines' waste occurs when every item on a repeat prescription list is automatically ordered but not all are needed. Patients should be encouraged to only order what they need.

Sustainable prescribing

Around 25% of NHS carbon emissions are from medicines.The majority of these emissions result from the manufacture, procurement, transport and use of medicines (20%), with the remaining 5% specifically from inhalers (3%) and anaesthetic gases (2%).

Evidence shows that the number of items dispensed by primary care providers has doubled in recent years, from an average of 10 per person in 1996 to around 20 per person by 2020.

NB. The RPS sustainability policy has a whole section on tackling medicines waste

Would you like a cleaner, greener, healthier Harpenden?

HOW? By increasing access to cycling and walking initiatives, Herts County & SADC  will help to improve health and air quality, as well as reducing traffic congestion.”

They have produced a technical report identifying key cycling and walking routes in the District where the potential demand is greatest and where changes will most benefit residents. A number of improvements have been put forward and costed for 72 priority routes across the district.

A travel survey has shown there is a strong desire among residents for improved walking and cycling routes to support people who want to choose eco-friendly transport.

Councillor Phil Bibby, HCC’s Executive Member for Highways and Transport, said: “We want cycling and walking to be an easy and convenient choice for people using and visiting our city centres. Receiving feedback on our proposed cycling and walking plan for St Albans is key to helping develop a framework that provides a greener and safer way to travel.

LEARN MORE NOW. I have edited their 73 page report down to 16 pages with Harpenden related details here:

Cycling and Walking Infrastructure 2023 PDF.pdf

Ron Taylor. Editor

Scroll down to read the analysis  of the recent meeting in 2023 with recommendations for action.

Ron Taylor . Editor

Ribbon Cancer Support Group

1.30pm - 3pm Wednesdays 2023

Harpenden Trust Halls

‘A new support group for AL5 residents’

We are delighted to announce the launch of a new, local support group for people who have had a cancer diagnosis. Working with ‘The Harpenden Trust’ and backed by Macmillan, the group will run every Wednesday afternoon in their halls in Southdown and will provide a safe space where you can meet and connect with people who share similar experiences. Whether you want to come and tell your story, have a friendly chat, or just listen, we are here to help support you. Come along and find out more.

We are looking forward to meeting you!

Ania, Andy and Clare

RCSG runs every Wednesday from 1:30pm to 3pm,

Harpenden Trust Halls, 130a Southdown Road, Harpenden AL5 1PU.

Email us for more information at (follow the link to the Care Fund Page)

Tuesday Oct 10th.

Hertfordshire Constabulary supporting World Mental Health Day 2023

Hertfordshire Constabulary is supporting World Mental Health Day (Tuesday 10 October), the theme of which for 2023 is ‘Mental health is a universal human right’.

The day is aimed at raising awareness of mental health and driving positive change for everyone’s mental health.

As an emergency service, police regularly respond to incidents where there is a danger to life, including where someone is experiencing a mental health crisis. The force works with partners in health to help ensure people get the most appropriate support.

The day is about raising awareness of all of our mental health and driving a positive change for everyone. The day gives us an opportunity to talk about how we feel about our mental health, how we can look after it and how to get help if you are struggling.

Amy Thorp from the Constabulary’s Mental Health Policing Team said: “There are many different things that we can do to support our own mental health and the mental health of those we are close too.

“At a recent event, we heard there are 5 fundamental things that you can do when you feel like you are not having a great day. These are:

Have you drunk enough water and are you hydrated?

•Are you hungry and could you give yourself some fuel?

•How long have you been in the same position and have you moved? This doesn’t have to be going out for a run but as simple as shaking your body out. 

•Have you spoken to someone you are close with today, both being with people and communicating to people will help maintain a good mental health.

•Have you done something you enjoy recently?

“Many of us are becoming more aware of our mental health, the different types of mental health conditions that there are and how it has an impact on us individually, but it is vital we keep track of how we can help our own mental health.”

Further tips for looking after you own mental health:

Talk about your feelings.

Although this seems like it can be hard, talk to someone you trust about how you are feeling. Just talking and getting a connection with someone can help you feel supported and less alone.

Get a good night’s sleep.

Sleep and mental health are closely linked. Living with a mental health problem can affect how well you sleep, and poor sleep can have a negative impact of your mental health.

Eat well.

A balanced diet can improve your sense of well-being and your mood. Food and drink can have a different impact on us as individuals.

Stay active.

Physical activity is not only good for your body, but it is great for your mind as it releases a feel-good hormone which helps to reduce stress and anxiety and will help us sleep better. Do something that you enjoy and take it at your own pace.

Practice mindfulness.

A way to be fully engaged and present in the moment. By becoming more aware of the present moment can help us enjoy the world around us more and understand ourselves better.

Keep in touch with supportive friends and family.

This helps you deal with the stresses of life and makes you feel cared for and often will offer a different viewpoint.

There are a range of online tools which may also be useful, including the following websites:

Herts mind network

Hector’s House 


Hub of Hope


Changing your nutrition and

lifestyle can help towards

improved health and wellbeing.

Many of you will be aware of symptoms

such as high cholesterol, high blood

pressure, blood sugar imbalances, insulin resistance and being overweight. Currently 63% of the UK population is classified as being overweight or obese, with a body mass index (BMI) of 25 or above. National media, social media and the NHS are reminding us constantly about the need for preventative  actions to take pressure off our overworked medical services.

Luckily, these are all modifiable with

nutritious diet and healthy lifestyle.

BUT where and how to start as everyone

is different, requiring a different approach

and understanding. 

Well, the answer could be Harpenden’s

award winning Registered Nutritional

Therapist, health coach and author, Katharine Tate.  She is currently the only recognised British Association for Nutrition and Lifestyle Medicine (BANT) practitioner in Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and alongside only one other in Buckinghamshire who has completed post graduate training and is qualified to work with clients with cancer.

Katharine set up her business, 

The Food Teacher™ in 2014 and has

been coaching clients face-to-face in

Hertfordshire or remotely via Zoom

since that time. As a Nutritional Therapist

she applies nutrition and lifestyle medicine

sciences to promote health, peak performance

and individual care. Through a package of

2 consultations and using client questionnaires

and any test results provided she assesses

and identifies potential nutritional imbalances

and understands how these may contribute to

an individual’s symptoms and health concerns. Therefore, Katharine considers each individual to be unique and recommends personalised nutrition and lifestyle programmes rather than a ‘one size fits all’ approach.

All clients leave the clinic with a clear health plan and often recommended supplements and following 4-6 weeks of implementation they return to share progress and their plan is typically redeveloped for maintenance.

And with Christmas festivities on the horizon overindulging could lead to more health problems.



Nov. Back in May, I got made redundant from my job as a reporter on a London website.

It was a hard blow of course, but I was excited to enter the world of freelance writing, and I was also keen to do some voluntary work. The problem was, every charity I approached seemed very cold and corporate. They bombarded me with lengthy forms, to the point where applying felt like too much of an effort. And while I have no proof to underpin this, I got the impression that many were put off by my visual impairment. I would explain over the phone that I was looking for voluntary work, and they would start babbling away about all their projects. Then, I would mention I was registered blind, and they would ground to a halt. On a few occasions, I never heard back from them after that.

It was around late July when I decided to call The Salvation Army. I wasn't expecting anything to come of it. Just like with all the other organisations, I thought a half-asleep charity worker would pick up and tell me in a droning voice to go on their website and see for myself if there were any opportunities. To my surprise, a friendly man answered the phone. His name was Kenneth (above) and he introduced himself as the Captain. I told him about my situation, that I was registered blind and looking to do some work in the community. Without hesitation, he advised me to pop down to the Salvation Army the very next morning which I did. He then showed me around the building and explained all the amazing services they provide from the toddler cafe to the Memory Lane Cafe for people with Dementia. At the end, he asked me what I would be most interested in helping with. Although giggling little toddlers made me smile, I was most intrigued by the Dementia Cafe, as my grandpa suffers with the condition and I have always enjoyed listening to the stories of those from older generations. Kenneth suggested I come along to a meet-up the following Monday and see if I liked it before committing to the sessions. I've been attending ever since, and I can honestly say the volunteers and visitors I work with are some of the kindest, most interesting people I have ever met.

Held at the Salvation Army in Harpenden, the Memory Lane Cafe invites people with Dementia, along with their loved-ones or carers, to come together in a safe, friendly environment and enjoy a piece of cake with their favourite cuppa. The meet-up takes place every Monday afternoon from 2-3.30pm, and no booking is required to attend. All you have to do is turn up, and be prepared to indulge in some seriously delicious, Bake-Off standard cake, prepared by a very lovely lady. As well as socialising and refreshments, the cafe offers fun activities to suit all tastes. Every week you will find an array of puzzles and books, and an interactive projector to play games on. There are also group activities such as crafts, singing, bingo, chair exercises and drumming. Leading volunteer Pippa Barrett said: "The Café is a joint venture between Harpenden Town Council, The Salvation Army and the Harpenden Trust, with volunteers from all three organisations in attendance to listen, chat, serve the tea and support the various activities that are on offer.

"Some guests come every week; others come less often. All receive the same warm welcome from our regular volunteers.

"If anyone would like to take a look at the café to make sure that it would suit their loved one or themselves, they are welcome to come along, introduce themselves to us and see what is going on."

She added: "Next February will be our second Anniversary. The months seem to have flown past! We are always keen for an excuse to celebrate, so there will undoubtedly be something extra special to look forward to that day."

In recent weeks, two new exciting ventures have grown out of the Memory Lane Cafe. One is the Intergenerational Choir which takes place every Tuesday from 12.45 to 1.30pm at the Salvation Army. It welcomes those with Dementia, alongside Year 10 pupils from Sir John Lawes and their music teacher; ladies from the Clover Singing Group; and any other residents from Harpenden who enjoy singing feel-good tunes. The other venture is the lunch club which is held once a month at the Salvation Army and invites guests of the Memory Lane Cafe to book in for a special meal, cooked by one of our talented volunteers. Costing just £4 a head, you will receive a two-course meal of comforting classics. And to give you some idea of the menu, this month we had a warming chicken casserole, followed by rice pudding.

Volunteering at the Memory Lane Cafe brings me

a lot of joy. I am constantly inspired by the positivity

of the visitors I chat to, and I am so thankful for how

accommodating and accepting Kenneth and all the

crew have been of my disability. If you are interested

in coming to the cafe as a guest or volunteer,

all I can say is: do it. You might just find it lifts

your spirits,

as well as the spirits of those around you.


All events normally take place at The Salvation Army

– enquiries: 01582 469399

  1. The Memory Lane Café: open every

  2. Monday 2-3.30pm EXCEPT for Bank Holidays

  3. and when it snows.

  4. Intergenerational Choir: takes place

  5. 12.45-1.30pm every Tuesday EXCEPT

  6. the first Tuesday of the month and in the

  7. School Holidays

Memory Lane Lunches: take place 12-2pm on the fourth Monday of the month.

Article by Charlotte Bateman

Ready to kickstart January with a fresh take on your health and fitness goals?

This might well be for you!

2 local businesses, The Food Teacher and Euphoria Boost have teamed up to launch their January Reset 24 - Simple Health & Fitness Strategies to Kickstart Your 2024!


It's not a detox, it's not an extreme diet and it's not full of guilt inducing pressure to achieve unrealistic goals!


It is, however, a realistic January mindset consisting of 6 simple steps to achieve sustainable nutrition, exercise & lifestyle changes with the focus on guilt free living!


It is your reminder that it is possible to simultaneously love your body whilst also wanting to be the healthiest version of you whilst also enjoying life!


Katharine (The Food Teacher) and Lauren (Euphoria Boost) have produced a 25 page E-book packed full of advice, tips, motivation, printable checklists and symptom checkers alongside some delicious recipes.


It’s the perfect tool to see you through January and beyond! And it's all yours absolutely FREE! Simply download by visiting:


Please feel free to share the link with family, friends and colleagues.


The Reset starts on Monday 15th January and you can also benefit from 1 month's free membership to the Euphoria Boost Members Group and access 4 brand new live workouts every week plus a bank of over 300 on demand workouts! Simply sign up at: and use Reset24 for your free month.


Any questions do contact Katharine or Lauren and enjoy this fabulous kickstart to 2024!

Feb . Changes to Blood Tests at St Albans Hospital.

West Herts Teaching Hospital NHS Trust (WHTH) introduced a new online booking system in December 2023 called Swiftqueue to support with regulating the flow of patients to ease pressure on the service at peak times.

The aim is to reduce overcrowding which is better for both patients and staff and allows staff to work more effectively.  Overcrowding and long wait times experienced during busy periods led to several complaints from patients, particularly at the St Albans site. Following the introduction of online appointments the average wait time has reduced from 90 minutes during peak times to a maximum wait time of 10 minutes per patient. 


Swiftqueue is widely used and trusted as an appointment system by neighbouring Trusts and throughout the NHS. Since the introduction of the appointment system, WHTH have received a lot of positive feedback from patients coming for blood tests who found the booking system easy to use. Approximately 60% of patients have been able to register and book appointments online within 5-10 minutes.


Walk in appointments are still available, although patients may still have to wait up to 60 minutes during busy periods as before.


WHTH also set up a telephone booking line to accommodate patients who do not have digital access following patient feedback. This is currently open Tuesday to Friday, between 9am and 1pm, on 01727 897376. WHTH are looking to expand the opening hours for the telephone booking service to make it easier for patients to book appointments by phone.


WHTH engaged with their Patient Panel as part of patient consultation before introducing the booking system and they broadly supported the proposal.  In June 2022, WHTH conducted a survey of approximately 500 patients who attended their clinics.  Around 65% of respondents replied ‘yes’ in agreement to introducing an appointment system.

Feb 12. Smashing news - demolition paves the way for new health facility in St Albans.

New operating theatres and shorter waiting times are on the horizon for patients from Hertfordshire and west Essex, with work in full swing for a new regional health facility.

Demolition started (Monday) to make way for three new operating theatres and a surgical procedure room at St Albans City Hospital, all due to open their doors this coming winter.

Patients from across Hertfordshire and west Essex who are waiting for non-complex orthopaedic surgery, spinal injections or ear, nose and throat (ENT) procedures will be invited to choose this new health facility for their care.

A whole new block is being built next to the current theatre suite, where two of the theatres and the procedure room will be for patients whose care is provided by either East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust, The Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust or West Hertfordshire Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust.

As well as a shorter waiting times, there will be an extremely low risk of cancellations or delays because the schedules are not affected by emergency surgery. More than 4,400 patients will be treated each year, with around half going home on the same day and others staying for a maximum of just one night.

Those who need more specialised care will be seen at The Lister, The Princess Alexandra or Watford General, depending on which of these would normally provide their hospital care. Patients who could be treated in St Albans but would prefer to be seen at the hospital nearest to them can choose to wait a bit longer if that is their preference.

Staff from all three of the hospital trusts will work together to form a combined theatre team, which will be bolstered by new recruits. Roles at the new ‘elective care hub’ are being advertised to existing staff this month, with external adverts to follow later this year.

Michael Meredith, director of strategy and estates at The Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust, who leads the project, said: “It’s fantastic to see the demolition start, as it takes us a step nearer to being able to run an efficient and professional surgical facility for patients across Hertfordshire and west Essex.

“By treating patients sooner, we can improve their experiences and outcomes. This is a real step change in the way we provide care for our communities.”

Whilst added parking is planned, spaces will be at a premium during the demolition and throughout the construction phase and so anyone visiting the St Albans City Hospital site is asked to consider public transport, if possible, or drop off and pick up.