The project uses ‘education in the community’ to promote the benefits of physical activity and healthy living amongst adults from minority ethnic communities. The programmes address health conditions known to have higher rates amongst these communities such as: Hypertension, Diabetes, Coronary Heart Disease, Osteoporosis and Stroke. Conventional health and fitness programmes often don’t recruit successfully because of language and cultural barriers.
Tandrusti, which means health and well-being in the main Asian languages, offers health information and advice that is relevant to minority ethnic communities. Classes cater for adults of all ages and focus as much on improving general well-being as management of progressive illness. They are designed especially so people with existing health problems can take part too. The whole programme accommodates cultural differences, to make sure adults from a whole range of ages and ethnic origins can be included. Classes take place in community venues, right in the heart of communities.
The key Tandrusti programme areas are Community Gym, Physical Activity and Medical Conditions, Postural Stability Instruction (Falls Prevention), Anatomy & Physiology, Heart Health, Obesity, Diet – Nutrition & Healthy Lifestyles.
The Project Manager, Harjinder Kang, knows too well the difference the programme has made to people’s lives. “The feedback from our learners is heart-warming. Many of them felt no one was taking a real interest in their health or they had accepted their medical condition as something they could not do anything about. When someone tells you that for the first time in 15 years they can sit on the floor and play with their grandchildren, you appreciate the value of Tandrusti.”
The project enjoys the active involvement of 94-year-old Tandrusti Patron, Fauja Singh (world marathon record holder over 90s category and member of Adidas’ ‘Impossible is Nothing’ advertising campaign), which has raised the profile of the project and increased the participation of Asian elders.
The grant will enable Tandrusti to build on his example. “Surveys show that people in minority ethnic communities are more likely to listen to peers when making lifestyle choices. We want to train existing learners to become Health Champion Volunteers. They have experienced the barriers to health education and can provide a good role model and support which will go a long way to reducing disadvantage and exclusion” explains Harjinder. There are also plans to produce DVDs of people’s health and fitness ‘journeys’ to promote the Tandrusti model to public service providers, who all have targets for reducing health inequalities in minority ethnic communities.
The Tandrusti project is one strand of the work of the Workers’ Educational Association (WEA), which they developed in partnership with Dudley PCT. Pete Caldwell, the WEA’s Regional Director, comments: “We are delighted with the support from the Big Lottery Fund. It is recognition for the importance of targeted health education. Tandrusti is our flagship health improvement project and we hope it will continue to serve as an example for similar projects throughout the region, and indeed the country.”
For more information about the project, telephone the WEA’s Regional Office on 0121 666 6101 or access the WEA website on www.westmidlands.wea.org.uk/tandrusti.