THE NEWLY-APPOINTED Healthy Blaenavon Officer is hoping to promote both physical and mental wellbeing in her new role.

Rebecca Smith was appointed at the beginning of August to explore ways of helping residents lead healthier and more active lives.

The new post is funded jointly by Blaenavon Town Council and Torfaen County Borough Council, and is believed to be the first of its kind in Wales.

Mrs Smith said her role will focus on ensuring Blaenavon residents are able to access every resource available to them to benefit their physical and mental health.

“My job is making sure I can make Blaenavon a better place and minimising the impact of living in poverty,” she said.

“It’s about making sure everyone has access to the tools to be their best selves.

“It’s not just about physical health – it’s about mental health too. If you’re not well in your mind, you won’t be well in your body, and vice versa.

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(Rebecca Smith visiting the Hwb in Blaenavon)

“There are amazing things going on in Blaenavon, but my job is to make sure no-one falls through the gaps, and asking whether there are there any reasons why people are not living their healthiest life.

“We are challenging people on what good health means to them. A lot of people think being healthy means going jogging and eating their five fruits and vegetables a day, but there’s so much more to it than that.

“The most important thing is we are trying to empower people in to taking responsibility for their own health and wellbeing.

“It’s also looking at how physical activities can be promoted using have in Blaenavon. We have such a beautiful area here with Garn Lakes and Keepers Pond. It’s not just about getting fit by going to the gym, it’s about getting the most out of these areas for other ways of getting fit.”

Mrs Smith has been working closely with the Hwb, Torfaen playschemes, Bron Afon, and Building Resilient Communities, and other local groups in the town.

Her previous roles have included working on the award-winning cross-generational project at Big Pit, and on a social inclusion project in Newbridge.

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(Rebecca Smith at the Intergenerational project at Big Pit. Pictures: Blaenavon Town Council.)

She said: “I have already worked with the schools in the area as part of the intergenerational project. In September, I will be going back out in to schools to work with the children.

“I also worked at Newbridge Memo and created a project called ‘Just about to make it’, which was a social inclusion project using music to bring people together. I would like to bring in something like that here as well.

“The resources are already out there, it’s just a case of making sure people know about them.

“A lot of people don’t know they have all these options. Having someone to link them to these projects will be really beneficial.”

One example of this Mrs Smith highlighted was the social prescription service run by GPs in the borough.

“The social prescribers would find a way to link them to a project to help them resolve their problem,” she said. “I want to work with them to link people to projects that can help.”