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Healthy Cornwall


Case Studies and Client Comments


Below is an extract from an email we received from a partner containing feedback from a client:

I phoned Duncan today to see how he was getting on and to thank him for returning his CW 9.  I wanted you to know that he spoke very highly of you in particular and the idea of Health Trainers in general.  He told me that because of your background you really understood his problems and issues that he had to deal with. He said as soon as he first met you he knew you would do something to help him move on.  Duncan said he felt able to trust you and was confident that his life was going to change. He told me he had never met anyone so conscientious as you. He was thrilled with the support that you have given and continue to give. He tells me that he hopes to be off benefit by next July and self sufficient. Duncan said we need more people like you. I told him we thought you were a star too.

Case Study A

brenda and health trainerMeet Brenda, a lady who was described by her GP as a morbidly obese diabetic and heavy smoker. It was suggested by her surgery nurse that I could help her manage her lifestyle by helping her to lose weight and give up smoking. 

I made an appointment to meet Brenda at home, and during our first meeting, Brenda quite matter of fact, no holds barred told me that she didn’t want to talk about her weight, and she didn’t want to give up smoking, and wasn’t sure why I was there. After a cup of tea and some time getting to know each other, Brenda agreed to look at the things in her life that she felt she could change for the better and be in control of. We spoke about Brenda’s activity level and Brenda was very honest in saying that she walked from home to car and car to home. Brenda said that as she was so large her legs really hurt if she walked so eventually she stopped walking. Brenda wished she could go out walking without feeling breathless and in pain. 

Brenda chose to use walking as her positive behaviour change. We looked at what was available in the area and discovered that the boating lake gardens was on a flat level and had benches positioned all the way along and were only yards away from each other, so Brenda could stop and rest if she wanted to. We met in the lay-by the following week, and a nervous Brenda appeared from her car. We managed to get to the first bench, then stopped and chatted for half an hour. Brenda found this quite hard going. The next week we managed three benches. The next week Brenda made a break through. Brenda discovered that if she didn’t have a cigarette for at least 20 minutes before walking, she could walk further. So the next week Brenda didn’t have a cigarette 20 minutes before walking (an amazing effort for a 40 a day smoker!), and she managed 7 benches. As the weeks went by, Brenda got further and further along, her confidence grew and it began to make a difference to her outlook. 

Brenda then set a goal – Brenda wanted to participate in the ‘healthy walkers’ walking group.  Brenda felt she was making great steps in achieving this goal. A few weeks later it happened! Brenda walked 40 minutes, with one five minute stop! During subsequent walks conversation turned to looking for work. Brenda was convinced that, as she put it was “too fat to work, who would employ me?”   We spoke about Brenda applying for temporary work at a local supermarket; Brenda thought about it, then thought some more, till eventually she applied. Interview came and went,Brendastill convinced she wouldn’t be hired, and then the bombshell……… she got the job!! And how her confidence grew again! 

Brenda lost 1 ½ stone and cut down smoking from 40 cigarettes a day to 15. Brenda walks regularly and is a regular attendee of the ‘healthy walkers’ walking group. Her confidence and self esteem has grown, and she was promoted to a permanent position at work. 

After a few months Brenda visited her diabetic nurse for her annual check up. Brenda learnt that she had lost another stone, and encouragingly her blood pressure was down for the first time in years.

In the past few months the good new for Brenda has continued, she has lost a further 10lbs. and is maintaining a good level of activity. But the best news of all is that Brenda applied to become a Health Trainer when a vacancy arose and was successful at the interview. We are so proud to have Brenda working in the Health Trainer Service and being able to show that small steps can indeed lead to big changes.

Photo Brenda and her Health Trainer.


Case Study B

It was during a health trainer visit that B, a client’s 16 year old daughter wondered if she could use the service to help overcome her social phobia. B had been so proud of the changes her mum had made and impressed with her success that she felt encouraged to approach the Health Trainer herself. B faced challenges on a day to day basis and was fearful for her future if she remain isolated. B said she would like a ‘little normality’ and to not be scared to go places. B signed up and chose to take on small goals on a weekly basis to overcome her fears, and surprisingly made great progress within the first week. B felt brave enough to approach Connexions and enquire about continuing her learning. This was especially important for B as she felt she didn’t get the grades she wanted at school and knew she could get a better grade and hope to get a better job when she was ready to face the job market. 

B is now studying Maths, English and I.T.   An added bonus has been that B qualifies for EMA payments, and now has her own money, thus creating a little more independence for herself. Currently B is planning to go to Cornwall College and starting her A levels. 

Accomplishing the ‘mini goals’ set has meant B has joined several groups. B participated in a Shape Up weight management group (specifically chosen as it was small) and also joined a walking group. 

Reflecting back to the beginning where B spoke little and didn’t hold eye contact makes me smile when she now has a conversation with me holding my gaze telling me about her studies and plans for her future.


Case Study C

two health trainersPengegon resident, Caroline Dennis, is a testament to how multi-agency support can work to help people develop the new skills and confidence that can lead back into work. Caroline started working with her local employment adviser to identify her interests, one of which was cooking. 

Caroline’s desire to learn more about food was taken up by her local BTCV Health Trainer, Lesley Trenchard, who together with the Health Promotion Service Eatsome Project, trained and supported Caroline to run cooking classes for young people in her local community. Caroline also joined a BTCV weight management group which encouraged her to eat healthily and take more exercise and further promoted her interest in cooking and food.  With her new found skills and confidence Caroline felt ready to move back into work and the opportunity to work at Treliske Hospital, preparing patients meals seemed like the chance she had been waiting for. Caroline has now been in her job for about a year and she continues to find the work rewarding and interesting. She continues to remain active in her community, through the local residents association and supporting youth activities.

Photo Health Trainer, Lesley Trenchard (left) with Caroline Dennis (right).


Case Study D

A healthy lifestyle is not just about the physical results of losing weight or giving up smoking although these are very important for good health. A Health Trainer understands that often it is things like debt and unemployment that can be like a huge weight, sapping confidence and stripping away self esteem, negatively impacting on physical and mental health. 

Health Trainer Bill Davies, talks about G who was a young man in his early twenties with a wife and child. He had fallen behind with his rent after losing his job and life seemed pretty bleak which was affecting him both mentally and physically. Bill was able to support him to negotiate with the housing association and help him to arrange a payment plan for the arrears, avoiding court proceedings and eviction. 

After the housing problems had been resolved, G looked at the possibility of employment and identified his aim to re-enter the workplace. Bill worked with other agencies and training programmes and was able to support G through the procedures and confidence building required when he was offered a job interview with a local employer. 

G is now working full-time with that company and has completed 2 separate training courses and has been determined to make the job work for him and his family. They now have another new baby and they are looking forward with confidence and security to their futures. 

Although Bill was there to support G, this was G’s achievement but with a bit of ‘the help from next door’. Now the future is not so scarier and G and his family are in a better, safer and healthier place than they were this time last year.


Case Study E

J was a referral from the Echo Centre a few months ago.  J had a serious stroke five years ago which led to her husband divorcing her and taking the three children (all under 10) to Australia.  J also lost her home and the home she inherited from her parents, but determined to remain independent she moved to a small place in Torpoint.  

J is only 50 and because she knew nobody, felt lonely and as if life was passing her by.  She only had two pet dogs for company but because she couldn’t walk very far she started to take them out every day using her mobility scooter.  All in all, J had been dealt a very rotten hand but she was a very determined lady and wanted support to get her life back, to regain some control and to start living again.  

I introduced J to a lady from Self Help called Christine Matthew and they became very good friends and still spend a lot of time together.  I was also able to arrange floating support which aided J with housework and remove some of her worries.  I was able to find a local dog walker so that when J wasn’t up to it the dogs still got their exercise and while all this was happening J’s confidence started to grow.  J took on the role of Treasurer at the Echo Centre and went on holiday on her own toTurkey, flying from Bristol and she had a thoroughly enjoyable week.  

It was wonderful to see someone who had been so badly treated to rise up with newly acquired confidence and reclaim her place back in society; I found it a very rewarding experience to be part of the process.


Case Study F

JW is a young man living in the clay area of Cornwall.   I have been working with him for just over a year; when he was first referred to me he weighed around 30 stone and had very low mobility and independence.  In the time we have been working together JW has turned his life around.  

I supported JW when he attended the local gym and went with him for the first few sessions. He now goes alone 3 times a week and has made lots of new friends there, he also walks about 5 miles, 3 times a week and has joined the Heaven Scent Project and has completed an NVQ2 in horticulture. JW applied to do a 13 week work placement at theEdenproject and this has resulted in them employing him once his 13 weeks was over. He has now lost 20 inches from his waist and 17 from around his chest and is still losing weight at a steady but controlled rate. 

I asked JW how he was feeling now and he replied "I have my life back, I am in control, I can buy clothes in high street shops and I am never at home, life is good. I have a long way to go but I am now well into my journey thank you."


Case Study G

I was recently approached by a young couple in a local store and the lad said, "Hello Bill how are you?”.  I didn't recognise him. He then told me that he was called Liam and that his mum had been a client of mine. I now knew who he was.  Liam then turned to his young partner and said, "This is Bill, the one I told you about".  Liam then told me that he was still working in a garage, had a six month old son called Jordan and hadn't been arrested for over a year and hadn't had any contact with the police. We shook hands and Liam said to me that I should call in if I was ever in Saltash again and we went our separate ways. 

This made me think about what I had done to make that impression on Liam who was a wild kid. I had called around to see his mum one day but Liam was the only one in and we started to chat. Liam was blamed for most of the family’s problems as the oldest of six and a bit of a tear away, but I liked him and he talked to me about his love of cars. Liam wasn't my client but I contacted White gold (a local project) and told them about our discussion and Liam’s love of cars.  Wayne, his Whitegold worker was able to get Liam a placement in a local garage and for once someone had done something for him.  I didn't do that much for Liam; I just listened, treated him as an equal and made a couple of calls.  At the time Liam wasn't used to people taking an interest in him and giving him time; we all appreciate time. I had not thought about Liam for a long time but the fact he told his girlfriend about me made me realise that those little things had obviously meant a great deal to someone and that someone was Liam. 

Client Comments

“The programme is very easy to follow with the one main sheet and portion sheets.  I have enjoyed very much following this programme and plan to continue to lose the remainder of my extra weight.  Jan is brilliant and a great support.  Thanks again for all the help.” 

“The support and visits from Jan were useful and uplifted us so much – thank you” 

“Since I met Jan, she has been more supportive than ever, giving realistic advice about food and nutrition and weight management.  As proof of her success I have now lost one and a half stone, and am still losing weight.”

“The support has helped us very much.”


 Backgrounds from some Health Trainers


When applying for the post of Health Trainer I was an 'at home mum/ foster carer' and a fantastic wife! My general life description could be foretold as; got expelled form school at 15.  Had several short lived jobs before becoming an 18 year old mum. Lived at home with my mum, left, lived in rented accommodation, got a top floor council flat, on benefits etc. Got married, had 4 kids, worked part time. shelf stacked at Morrison’s for a while, became a foster mum for four years, then saw the job advert, and thought as I was an ex  smoker, ex serial dieter (lost 4 stone ), liked the odd Gin or two (still do!) I had a lot to offer. Got the job and life is great!



Having gone back to work in a factory after my children were in full time school working at a machine all day, I kept thinking that there has to be more to life than this, fate took a different turn of events as I became allergic to rubber and latex so I had to give it up.  I have to say that this was the best thing that could have happened to me because now I am out working in the community with people who need someone to support them.  Every day is different, peoples needs are different and most of all I enjoy what I do.