A group of children in a bowling alley smiling at the camera while holding bowling balls

SHINE Health Academy: An Announcement

By | Closure | No Comments

After 20 wonderful years of providing support for our amazing young people, it is with sadness we are announcing that SHINE Health Academy will officially close in December 2023.  However, rest assured, we are doing everything we can to ensure our work will continue. We are presently in final negotiations with other similar organisations to continue the delivery of our programmes and we will keep you posted. 

Due to our imminent closure we are unable to take any new referrals during this time but during this interim period please contact Live Lighter, who provide similar services for children and young people living with excess weight.  

Thank you to everyone for your support. We’re really excited to share more news about the next chapter in the SHINE story as soon as we possibly can.

Kath Sharman holding a Coronation Champion medal and certificate

Our Coronation Champion

By | People | No Comments

The recent coronation of King Charles III was extra special for SHINE, Director Eleanor Thomas writes…

As with other non-profit organisatons, SHINE rely on people giving their time unpaid to support and supplement a lot of the work we do: our amazing facilitators and exceptional Board of Directors are unpaid volunteers. What many people probably don’t realise is that over the past 20 years since Kath Sharman started up SHINE, the majority of her time has also been unpaid. So we are absolutely delighted that Kath has been selected as one of the official Coronation Champions!

The Coronation Champions Awards, launched by the Royal Voluntary Service, are all about celebrating the work of extraordinary volunteers across the UK. Kath is one of just 500 volunteers who have been selected as a Coronation Champion, receiving an official Coronation Champions pin badge, a signed certificate from Their Majesties and an invite to one of the Coronation Celebrations.

Those of us who know Kath and have worked with her for years appreciate her amazing dedication to the children and young people of Sheffield, South Yorkshire and beyond. It is fantastic that her voluntary, unpaid work, which at times has actually kept SHINE going, has been recognised nationally in such a positive way. 

The dedication and commitment of the young people who have been part of the Management Committee over the years deserve a special mention: their ongoing support and guidance has helped Kath and the team develop the programme into what it is today.

As Chair of SHINE, I want to say a huge thank you to Kath for all the work she has done over the past 20 years, paid and voluntary, to help change the lives of so many young people. We are so proud of you Kath. 

So what has been her reaction to this Coronation Champion Award? Over to you Kath…..

“The last 20 years has have been a roller coaster of experiences with SHINE on the verge of closing several times. But with strength and resilience – and the support from a dedicated team of voluntary workers – we bounced back every time with pride and grace.  Finally, in the past year we have started to create a platform of security as Tier 3 services move into new developing clinics within the NHS, which is an amazing achievement for us all.  I accept this award with pride, not for myself, but for our team of dedicated volunteers and co-workers who show such dedication and commitment in their hard work. And for all our young people and their families who work even harder to make lifestyle changes.  We celebrate together!”

Interview: Emma Hinchliffe on her SHINE story

By | People | No Comments

Emma Hinchliffe was the first person on the SHINE programme back in 2003. That alone would make her a great guest choice for the first in our new series of interviews celebrating the last 20 years of our work. But Emma’s SHINE story is even more remarkable – from joining our Children and Young Management Committee, becoming a buddy, delivering our sport programming, then our psychocosial and maintenance courses – and finally, becoming a SHINE Director…

Our chat covers everything from how Emma found SHINE to her favourite work with us – enjoy!

Hi Emma! Thanks for joining us for a chat. Let’s start at the beginning – how did you first encounter SHINE? Where were you in life? 

I first met Kath in my secondary school in 2003 when I was 14. Myself and some of my friends had been identified as someone who would benefit from attending the SHINE programme, so Kath came into school to tell us more and try to encourage us to attend. Back then, I was a really shy, overweight and quiet young person who had no confidence so wouldn’t do anything on my own and was only going to attend SHINE if my friends came too. I struggled to look forward in life and to think about what i might want to do from one day to the next – let alone what i wanted to do with my future. 

Looking back, I think I knew I needed to do something to increase my confidence and to lose weight. For those that know me now, you will know that I am a very different person. 

How would you describe SHINE in a sentence? 

It’s really hard to think of just one sentence to sum up SHINE, but I guess if I had to I would say ‘a life changing opportunity not to be missed’. 

How did SHINE deliver for you?

Within the first couple of weeks, SHINE taught me that I wasn’t alone and that they were lots of other young people in my situation. This gradually helped me to open up and to make friends, something I’d never really thought of before. After attending SHINE on my own for many weeks, my confidence built up enough to speak to my family and to get them on board with my journey. 

Through achieving small targets weekly, I was able to see that I could achieve something, which in turn increased my confidence and self esteem. Within a year I was also able to lose about 5 stone in weight and this gave me the confidence to get involved in fundraising for SHINE and to join other groups of like minded young people as a result. 

What kept you at SHINE for so long? 20 years is such a commitment! 

For me, as I’d been through the programme myself I could see the massive benefit it had not only on me but the other young people who got involved. This made me want to help other young people. Through an increase in confidence I was also able to volunteer in the youth work sector and with these two combined it showed me that I really wanted to work with young people. 

SHINE has had a positive impact on the lives of many young people and ultimately it is seeing this impact both on myself and all the young people who have come through the programme over the years that has kept me involved. 

Every organisation has special and unique people, but what makes SHINE different from other organisations of its type?

I feel the volunteers and staff that give up their time to support the young people is most definitely what makes the programme. The fact that most of the staff have themselves or have close family or friends who have had weight problems and gone through the programme means that you can really relate to what the outcomes will be for the young people.

The other big difference is that although SHINE addresses the complex needs of young people living with severe obesity, both physically and emotionally, it’s run in the community, which greatly reduces the stigma around accessing the programme, and reduces the clinical angle which young people don’t seem to respond well too. It gives more freedom to be able to work from the young people’s starting point and be more creative in our approach to delivery. 

What has been your favourite SHINE project and why? 

If I had to pick one, I’d say the residential project we ran. For me, this was a real turning point for some of our young people who were really struggling. It gave them the opportunity to go away for a week and focus on themselves whilst putting into practice on a daily basis all the skills and knowledge they’d learnt throughout the programme – as well as addressing some of the underlying issues that may have been contributing to their struggles. In just a week of being away on the residential you could see the difference it made to the young people attending.

How is the UK obesity picture different now from when SHINE started in 2003? 

When SHINE started in 2003, it was initially a pilot with two of Sheffield’s Secondary Schools, who referred young people. There were five staff with 10 young people and each staff member had a small group of young people they looked after. The course and sports activities were all delivered on the same day on a Saturday and there was no other sessions held during the week. Most of the young people were on or above the 91st centile. This would be classed as Tier 2 services.  These courses were initially run voluntarily by a small group of staff until 2011 when we received Children in Need funding.  Who would know back then how times would change!

Now, we get referrals from lots of different organisations from across Sheffield, South Yorkshire and Derbyshire and young people and families even refer themselves – and as well as running courses during the week we also offer sports on a Tuesday and on a Saturday! 

We now see over 100 families per year and have a skilled and trained set of facilitators working on a sessional basis – still funded by Children In Need. We fought for extension of Tier 3 services to include children and young people with more complex needs; in April 2021 Complications from Excess Weight clinics were established and we’ve now partnered with Sheffield Children’s Hospital on delivery.

Where did SHINE make the biggest difference in your opinion?

SHINE has no doubt made the biggest difference in the lives of the children, young people and families who have accessed the programme throughout the years. 

I also feel that through the different pieces of research we have been involved in and the work with politicians – and our local MP Paul Blomfield – we’ve been able to raise the profile of obesity and challenge the stereotypes that overweight people are labelled fat, greedy and lazy. 

How do you feel about SHINE closing?

Of course, I’m sad about SHINE closing as I feel that it is a real shame that young people in the future will not be able to access the support that many have received through SHINE and I feel this will leave a huge gap. 

However, I look back with fond memories and pride on what we have managed to achieve throughout the years and the difference it has made to all those involved – and I’m hopeful that SHINE will continue in the future, albeit in a different way

What would you like to take away from SHINE as a memento? 

My take away from SHINE is friends for life in the staff that I have worked with. What SHINE has taught me will forever shape my approach to life – and the knowledge I have gained I hope to continue to share with young people. 

Is there anything else you’d like to say?

I want to say a massive thank you to Kath, as without her developing the initial programme none of this would exist today. I also want to thank all the volunteers who have given time to support the families throughout the years, and the young people who have been involved in the management committee as without them SHINE wouldn’t be as good as it is today. Thank you. 

A group of schoolchildren in a classroom holding certificates

SHINE Schools – latest lessons and our new programme for children living with neurodiversity 

By | Courses | No Comments

It’s normal to be nervous when you’re doing something new. We knew our partnership with South Yorkshire Integrated Care Services (ICS), training school staff to deliver SHINE courses within their school environment would be full of challenges. But we never anticipated what a great success it would be – and we’re so proud that we now have 16 mainstream schools across South Yorkshire delivering SHINE in a variety of innovative ways! It’s been amazing to see the the breadth of interventions our work is delivering; from full class education on health and well-being as part of PHSE curriculum, to after-school clubs, parent classes and support for more vulnerable children in specialist core groups.

So what have we learnt so far? And how does our new weight management programme for children living neurodiversity fit in?

These early intervention and prevention programme are having a major impact, not just around healthy weight, but increasing confidence and self esteem, making new friends, being more active and eating five fruit and veg a day. Running programmes in school has helped to reduce weight stigma as relationships are already well established with families who can be approached in a sensitive and compassionate way. There are also amazing changes in the school environment; from promoting active learning and portion-controlled breakfast clubs to not rewarding children with sweets and sugary products and walking a mile a day.

SHINE’s final staff training session started in January and has focused on extending this programme to seven Special Educational Needs Schools across South Yorkshire, where there’s a particular needs gap around managing weight in children living with neurodiversity. This has meant ensuring inclusivity with specialist staff developing ways of working in a more individual way with families and educating them on health and wellbeing through play and creative work in particular. We know children with neurodiversity have more complex relationships with food and staff are developing techniques to manage sensory eating and food restrictive behaviours.

We’ll have a full report in the autumn but if you want to find out more now, Integrated Care Service recorded their session on Early Intervention and Prevention Related to Weight Management: A Whole System Approach to Wellbeing event, for those unable to join on the day. You can watch the session here.

Sunsetting SHINE: What happens next?

By | Closure | No Comments

In September of last year, SHINE’s Board of Directors made a joint decision to close SHINE Health Academy. Organisations close for lots of reasons; when their goals have been achieved; when funding streams dry up; when they’re no longer viable; or in the case of a project failing. None of these apply to SHINE but the impending retirement of some of the key Directors materially changed the sustainability of our services. When we considered this alongside SHINE’s strategic focus on implementing our approaches in partner organisations, it became clear that this was a chance to go out on a high note.

SHINE will be closing on December 16 2023.

As soon as we agreed the closure date, we started the work of ensuring all our families and staff were well-prepared and the closure managed in a professional, legal, moral and ethical manner. It’s been brilliant having our Board of Directors to help with this. They’re responsible for the governance and quality assurance aspects of our organisation and having the benefit of their skills and expertise – shared voluntarily with SHINE for the past 20 years – has been essential.

There’s lots to consider here. Devising and implementing our exit plan is a complex task, requiring the involvement of a number of key specialists and a wide number of stakeholders. But it’s going to be an open and transparent process and we’ll keep you updated every step of the way.

With that in mind, say hello to SHINE’s new ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ webpage. It’s got answers to lots of questions – from ‘Why is this happening?’ to ‘What will happen to my course?’ And we’ll be reviewing and revising it as we go.

Introducing CEW – SHINE’s new weight management partnership with Sheffield Children’s Hospital

By | NHS England | No Comments

Complications from Excess Weight (CEW) is a new initiative of 15 clinical centres for children and young people living with severe obesity and complex needs. It’s the first time NHS England has provided specialist Tier 3 services for children and young people and it brings together services including weight management consultants, nursing specialists, psychologists, nutritionists, exercise instructors and family support workers – as well as community-based services providing nutritional and psychological support, physical activity and cooking, shopping and budgeting support.

We’re excited to be one of the partnership centres for Sheffield Children’s Hospital covering South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw (Sheffield, Rotherham, Doncaster and Barnsley).

Some of the changes these services introduce could be significant. It means patients won’t have to travel so far to receive specialist services. It could end the frustrating ‘postcode lottery’ of weight management services. And the holistic approach described on the NHS’s CEW page has been at the centre of SHINE’s practice for the past 18 years so we know it works!

This is the first time we’re brought our health services to the NHS though. And working with NHS staff to offer our 12-week psychosocial course as an integral part of the hospital team delivery plan is teaching all of us a huge amount. Two NHS Weight Management Specialist Nurses – Jo Searles and Natalie Selby – along with Weight Management Consultant Dee Aswani joined us in September for 12 weeks to observe the delivery of the programme and it’s been amazing working together and learning from each other.

We’re already seeing positive changes. The families we work with have long highlighted how the jargon and terminology of consultant letters is confusing. In response, Dr Aswani prepared a glossary of terms that now goes out with these letters to enable better understanding. And hospital consultation’s have been given more time – going from 15-30 minutes to a full hour – to allow more comprehensive assessment of patients’ biopsychosocial needs.

Dee says, “It’s been a real privilege to work with Kath and the families at SHINE and learn from their knowledge and experience – particularly on the psychosocial impact of living with excess weight. It’s been sad to hear from young people and their caregivers about the stigma they face and the confusing messages about what constitutes healthy nutrition. These aspects cause many barriers to being able to access the right support for body and mind …”

CEW is for children and young people with a BMI of over 3.33 SDS or over 99.6 centile with two co-morbidities screened for – such as type 2 diabetes, fatty liver, polycystic ovary syndrome and associated mental health issues.

Children and young people will be able to access CEW clinics following a referral from relevant professionals and services will be fully operational by April.

In the meantime, we started to deliver support to children and young people in Doncaster with 18 new participants as of January. Welcome to Doncaster delivery team nurses Cheryl Morris and Sam Fawkes! We’ll have more info on how we getting on soon…

A Leap Into The Future With The Health and Care Bill

By | Health professionals | No Comments

The Health and Care Bill is a major piece of UK legislation that’s completely changed the picture for SHINE. It’s a complex proposal that’s been on the go for almost ten years and has attracted headlines over concerns it might lead to the privatisation of the NHS. That’s understandable given past governments’ track records. But as The Nuffield Trust has highlighted, “There is nothing in the Bill that would change the NHS from being a publicly funded service, free at the point of use except for existing charges for services like dentistry…” And the bill’s stated aim of addressing the challenges faced by those with complex healthcare needs in particular (The King’s Fund describes this as “a patchwork of organisations that sometimes work together well but sometimes, unfortunately, do not…”) could materially improve things for patients.

That’s where SHINE comes in.

The bill legalises the creation of new partnerships between different health and care organisations – called Integrated Care Systems (ICSs) – that will provide patients with health provision that’s promised to be more local, moving services “out of hospitals and into the community…” As the government’s press release claims.

This means new partnerships between health and social care and education organisations – everyone from voluntary and community sector NGOs and local authorities to Sheffield Children’s Hospital. For years SHINE have been delivering materially successful health programmes from outside the system. We are now in a prime position to share experience with evidence of good practice.

The success of the Government’s bill will be dependent on a large number of factors, but connecting high quality voluntary/community services is central. SHINE’s track record of results and focus on partnerships – with schools most recently (read on for the latest on this) but going back to our work with Chilypep  and our long term funders Children in Need has put us in the spotlight.

That spotlight means our work is being more formally recognised and valued, which is most welcome. But it also means we can develop projects with other organisations, integrate our knowledge into services, and – more important than anything else – help more children and young people who are living with obesity and complex needs.

We’ll be sharing more on this as soon as we can so make sure you’re following us on Twitter if you’re not already doing so. But for the first time, SHINE’s fate is in our hands.

By the way, thank you to MP Paul Blomfield for his long term dedication, enthusiasm and commitment in helping get SHINE recognised in 2021. Paul has been our voice for years at parliamentary level fighting for appropriate services and funding for Tier 3 services for children and young people. Thanks for believing in us and advocating for our work Paul.

Three Tips for 100% Retention on Zoom

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

We’re really proud of SHINE’s track record on participant retention – or ‘keeping people engaged’ in normal speak! So what was our reaction when the first Zoom session on our most recent 12-week maintenance course (which coincided with the latest national lockdown) showed us a screen full of empty, muted boxes with not a single camera or mic switched on?

We were overjoyed! Silent and invisible though they’d chosen to be, everyone had turned up….and everyone continued to attend. It took six weeks to go from blank screens to a wall of faces though. How did we do it? We’ve got three tips for you.

1. Build confidence. Our maintenance group were brave. They highlighted how anxious they were feeling. By responding with positive affirmation, humour and an appreciation of how difficult life currently is for them we built their confidence. Face to face is always going to be a richer experience than Zoom but there are basic principles of human contact that apply to both, including showing understanding and empathy.

2. Understand your tools. Everyone knows “I am not a cat” (link here – https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/feb/11/lawyer-cat-funny-texas-rod-ponton-judge just in case you don’t). But SHINE’s Kath Sharman dived headlong into Zoom’s filters to take away the fear factor of going on camera. Our new groups were more body conscious than ever but using the moustache and eyebrow filters, for example, helped empower our participants and made us all feel more connected.

3. Listen and respond. We adapted our 12-week programme in record time to meet the priorities of our group. This meant postponing sessions on nutrition to focus on body confidence and emotional literacy – enabling our groups to share their stories and experiences in a safe and supportive way. This showed we were listening and responding to our participants’ needs.

It took us six weeks before everyone in our group was happy to switch their webcams on so ‘Be patient’ is our bonus tip!

Free Zoom Knowledge Builders for Obesity Care Week

By | Conferences | No Comments

Today is the launch of Obesity Care Week (OCW), an annual public awareness effort supported by more than 60 countries worldwide and more than 75 healthcare-focused organisations.

OCW’s aim is to elevate societal awareness of obesity educate individuals impacted by the disease as well as healthcare professionals, medical societies, policy makers, payers, and other stakeholders – and to advocate for a better world for people living with obesity. They also campaign for fair care and treatment without weight bias. These are all aims we’re squarely behind here at SHINE and we’ll be supporting OCW with a short presentation each day on the topics outlined by the project, as follows:

Each presentation starts at 1300 GMT via Zoom and is presented by SHINE’s Kath Sharman, who’ll draw upon her experiences of working with children and young people living with severe obesity and complex needs.

The link is the same for each session: https://zoom.us/j/92042754753?pwd=elZ4dzhLMGk4ZWk4bEJlRnJjYkl4UT09

Meeting ID: 920 4275 4753

Passcode: 233040

We’d be delighted if you could join us.

For more details please contact:  kath@shinehealthacademy.org.uk

Three ways coronavirus is disrupting weight management programmes – and three ways to fight back

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

SHINE’s most recent psychosocial programme has just finished and it was incredibly challenging. Presenting problems weren’t  food-related this term, but stressors of the daily life young people faced; leaving school in Y6 and Y11 with little transition preparation, finding an identity in new environments, losing old friendships and establishing new ones, family conflicts, illnesses, bereavements, and fear of social contacts, all contributed to our participants’ patterns of eating.

Weight losses were minimal (although weight gains were too) and a combination of weariness with lockdown and government restrictions meant we had to come up with new approaches to ensure positive outcomes for the children and young people in our groups. So here’s three ways coronavirus is disrupting weight management programmes – and three ways to fight back…

Three Ways Covid-19 is Disrupting Weight Management Programmes…

1. Constant Change – Part of SHINE’s success has been built on presenting participants on our programme with a structure they can believe in. But it’s hard to build that structure on the shifting sands of 14-day self isolation periods, tiers, lockdowns, bubbles, guidance, instructions and advice.

2. Sport Facilities Shut Down – There’s a buzz to our gym and swimming groups at Springs Leisure Centre and we’re pretty sure missing out on those activities since coronavirus has negatively affected not just our weight loss results but our groups’ wellbeing.

3. Anxiety – For the first time in 17 years, levels of anxiety and depression in our group were higher at the end of the module than at the beginning. Coronavirus has brought illness, bereavements and disrupted education – and taken away social contact with friends and family. SHINE have had to ringfence the emotional wellbeing of our children and young people before even considering weight loss.

…And Three Ways to Fight Back

1. Embrace innovation – It’s always easier to walk down a well-worn track but moving in a new direction can be exciting and fun as we have learnt. For example, developing zoom friendly interactive workbooks gave us a connection where young people could work after their class with their family following simple instructions in there. Staff resilience and endless hours of reshaping how we deliver our interventions has really paid off thanks to a dedicated team of volunteers and workers creating flexible and adapted resources.

2. Go Public – Keeping strictly to government and NHS instructions, we developed ‘bubble sport’ events in the full gaze of Norfolk Park – with outdoor walks, dance, circuits and aerobics. Making the switch from behind closed doors to out and proud in public spaces was a leap in the dark, but the response from the public was inspirational! We even had people joining in – at a distance of course…

3. Be Person Centred – From SHINE’s Young People’s Committee to our multi-family discussion groups, finding out what works best for our young people, keeping them involved and providing support that is really meaningful to them really matters. And it’s succeeding. Our most recent programme run – a 12-week course starting September and finishing earlier this month – had 100% retention. SHINE’s Kath Sharman will be presenting more on this at the Webinar conference run by the Care of Childhood Obesity (CoCO) clinic at Bristol Royal Hospital for Children. Click here to find out more.