The latest news from the Self Care Forum and its member organisations:

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300,000 smokers may have quit due to fears over COVID-19


A survey by YouGov and Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) reports that more than 300,000 smokers in the UK may have quit as evidence suggests smoking makes people more vulnerable to COVID-19.  A further 550,000 have tried to quit, while 2.4 million have cut down.

Dr Nick Hopkinson, the chairman of ASH and respiratory specialist at Imperial College London, said: “Smoking harms the immune system and our ability to fight off infections. Evidence is growing that smoking is associated with worse outcomes in those admitted to hospital with COVID-19. Quitting smoking also rapidly reduces people’s risk of other health problems such as heart attacks and strokes. Those are bad whenever they happen, so preventing them is an end in itself and is especially important at a time like now when everyone is keen to stay out of hospital.”

Coronavirus Factsheets


Fusion Medical Animation – Unsplash

The Self Care Forum is currently crowdfunding to develop a series of fast-tracked self care aware Factsheets to help people understand how to avoid contracting coronavirus and what to do should they or their family members show signs or symptoms of the virus.

Uncertainty around COVID-19 has created an immediate need to equip the population and health professionals with reliable knowledge and awareness about this new virus.

The Self Care Forum is looking to develop ten self care aware Factsheets that can be used across the health and care system.  

The Factsheets will be evidence-based and peer-reviewed in line with our current suite of Factsheets which are a popular and valuable resource for health and care professionals to support the practice. They are also used independently for self care by the general public. They are succinct (no more than two sides) and easily accessible.

We would love to hear from you if you would find such Factsheets useful and would like to receive these once they are available or if you would like to donate towards producing this material. Please email.

Award winning pharmacist joins the Self Care Forum


Ade Williams, Bedminister Pharmacy

Superintendent pharmacist, Ade Williams from Bedminster Pharmacy, has joined the Self Care Forum’s Board.

Bedminister Pharmacy, which is a healthy living pharmacy, has won an impressive number of awards for its role in supporting the health of the local community with Ade receiving the UK Community Pharmacist of The Year Award in 2017.

Talking about his appointment to the board Ade said “I have been following the excellent work of the Self Care Forum for some years and as a new board member I am excited to start exploring how we can further progress the charity’s mission and make self care everyone’s everyday habit and culture.”

Self Care Forum chair, Helen Donovan added “Ade, with his rich knowledge of community and public health and his passion for helping people help themselves, will be a real asset to the Self Care Forum.”

CE Dr Knut Schroeder, who is a GP in Bristol and who knows Ade personally said “Ade’s infectious enthusiasm for finding ways of supporting people is inspiring; he and his pharmacy team do such invaluable work in the local community and we are delighted to have his talent on our Board.”

Self Care Week Award Winners Announced


The Self Care Forum is delighted to announce the awards for Self Care Week 2019, which was another remarkable year with more than 1000 organisations and individuals participating.

Self Care Forum Trustee Rhian Last, who was on the judging panel for the awards this year said “I was privileged to be invited to judge these prestigious awards which recognises the hard work and dedication of localities in their endeavours to support people to better look after their own health.”

Also new to the judging panel was Self Care Forum Trustee, Dr Michelle Howarth from Salford University, “judging these awards opened my eyes to the wonderfully collaborative nature of many local Self Care Week initiatives. It was heartening to see that Self Care Week continues to galvanise local people, who come together for a shared goal, to empower their local population to live their best self care life.”

Julie Wood, NHS Clinical Commissioners’ Chief Executive said “we are delighted to partner again with the Self Care Forum to support the hotly contested award for the CCG of the Year. Supporting and empowering people to self care is one of the core priorities for our members right across the country. The quality of nominees once again shows the range of impressive and important work that CCGs are undertaking in their local areas to get the word out about the importance of self care.”

Self Care Forum Chair Helen Donovan added “it is encouraging each year to see the rich diversity of organisations using Self Care Week as a vehicle to increase people’s knowledge and understanding of how to take care of their own health and their family’s health.  Congratulations to all the winners and thank you to all participants for supporting this initiative each year.”

Self Care Week Awards

Winner – Lancashire Libraries, Lancashire County Council

Outstanding Clinical Commissioning Group – Sandwell and West Birmingham CCG (Joint Self Care Forum/NHS Clinical Commissioners Award)

Innovation – Manchester Local Care Organisation/North Manchester Self -Care Forum

Highly Commended – Wakefield CCG

Self Care and COVID-19


By Helen Donovan, Self Care Forum Chair, Royal College of Nursing’s Professional Lead for Public Health and the James Bond of coronavirus

Don’t panic – it’s just more information on coronavirus! Hard not to quell the rising fear when faced with front page news, running television commentary, masks on public transport, hand gel being brandished like weapons, ‘the Wuhan shake’ in place of a hand shake making us all look as if we are doing a strange chicken dance.  Has the world gone mad with overreaction and the reality is that it is “no worse than flu” (which let’s face it can be rather grim) or is this a mass conspiracy theory where information and misinformation need spy level training?

What can you do and how can you look after yourself and those you love? Think of me as the James Bond of coronavirus if you will?

This useful infographic from the BBC gives simple self care steps for protecting yourself and what to do should you feel ill or think you are at risk.

Read more here.

For ways to self care during periods of enforced social isolation go to Chatter Pack which has a series of free “boredom busting” online links to keep you entertained for hours.

Crowdfunding for Self Care Week 2020


Over 1000 individuals and organisation participated in Self Care Week 2019, now the Self Care Forum is crowdfunding to ensure Self Care Week 2020 retains its national voice.

Every November, Self Care Week highlights the benefits of people self caring. In 2019, participation by local health organisations gave the popular event a potential reach of more than 31 million people who were encouraged to better look after their own health.

Chair Helen Donovan explains the Self Care Forum’s move to crowdfunding:  “As a charity we are having to look at ways to fundraise to continue to support local health organisations meet their self care strategies and embed self care into communities, families and generations.

“One of the ways we do that is through Self Care Week, which has gone from strength to strength since it was introduced some nine years ago.”

“Self care, social prescribing and personalised care are vital elements of the NHS Long Term Plan” adds Self Care Forum President, Dr Pete Smith. “Self Care Week provides local health organisations with the perfect tool to implement strategies expected by NHS England.”

Nathan Skelton, Senior Communications and Engagement Officer at NHS Fylde Coast CCGs agrees. Self Care Week has been a valuable tool in supporting our local self care strategy. It has been fundamental in creating a focus for the whole community to align behind. This has extended the overall impact within our population thanks to the Self Care Forum’s national coordination.”

Pharmacist Ade Williams from Bedminster Pharmacy in Bristol says: “It is vital this national initiative continues to grow, since it provides the essential focus local organisations need to help support community health.”

The advantage of being part of a national health initiative such as Self Care Week is the power of many voices, according to Dr Knut Schroeder, GP and Self Care Forum Chief Executive.  “Self Care Week generates a wide-reaching message that resonates with many people since there is so much going on at the local, regional and national levels. It is this that effects the much-needed behaviour change that helps people self care.

“We want to keep our resources, such as our factsheets, posters and Self Care Week assets completely free, so we can help more local players help their own audiences. That’s why we are inviting those that use our resources, or benefit from them, to support us through affordable donations. No amount is too small to help us continue to help hundreds of organisations promote self care locally to tens of millions of people every November.”


Notes to editors:

For further information, please contact: Libby Whittaker on

Website: Twitter: @SelfCareForum

RSPH Launches Everyday Interactions Tool


The Self Care Forum welcomes the Everyday Interactions toolkit produced by the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) and Public Health England (PHE) to measure and record the impact of public health interventions between the public and healthcare professionals. 

Commenting on the resource, which is for nurses, midwives, dentists, allied health professionals and pharmacists, Self Care Forum chair, Helen Donovan said “this is based on the excellent “make every contact count” (MECC) concept which uses those everyday interactions between healthcare professionals and patients to help them self care and feel more empowered to take care of their own health.

“The toolkit focuses on 11 key public health topics such as exercise, healthy beginnings, smoking and tobacco, alcohol, obesity and will help improve people’s physical health and mental wellbeing, reduce inequalities and prevent premature deaths.”

Self Care Forum Trustee, Prof Rob Darracott believes the toolkit will also be useful for community pharmacists.  “This resource will help pharmacists make the most of their opportunities with the 1.6 million people who visit a pharmacy every day, helping them to adopt a healthier lifestyle and understand how to self care for life.”

Self Care Week 2019: Phenomenal Success


Self Care Week has become a phenomenal success as a well established, multifaceted initiative raising awareness about the benefits of self care and this Self Care Week Review captures the highlights from the Week.

In 2019 more than 1000 individuals and organisations took part – 400 more than the previous year. This rapid rise in participants using Self Care Week to empower their audiences provides a clear indication of the relevance of self care and the importance of its promotion.

Largely, participants are from traditional health organisations particularly those at the primary care level. And whilst it is a national initiative, Self Care Week is particularly popular in England with 120 of the 200 clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) taking part, covering a population reach of more than 30 million people.  Many CCGs also ran a week-long programme of activities and events during Self Care Week often choosing to collaborate with local partners to strengthen community engagement and reach.

Commenting on Self Care Week 2019, the Self Care Forum’s chair, Helen Donovan said “we are delighted that local organisations continue to use Self Care Week as a tool to empower their local communities, helping them to understand that self care does not mean no care, but instead, is about supported care and having the confidence, reassurance and knowledge to practice self care for life.”

Loneliness as harmful as smoking 15 cigarettes a day


The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has issued advice on how to support people that might be suffering from loneliness.

It reports that the affects of loneliness and isolation on our physical health and mental wellbeing can be as harmful as obesity or smoking 15 cigarettes a day. As a result, lonely individuals are at higher risk of the onset of disability putting them at greater risk of cognitive decline.

Tackling loneliness, it says, is an important way of improving people’s overall health and wellbeing and this can be done in a range of ways such as supporting people to improve their existing relationships, working on their attitudes, expectations and skills around relationships, as well as providing new opportunities for social connection.

More advice on how to help people with loneliness is available on the RCN website.

Activity - never too little, never too late say experts


 By Dr Peter Smith OBE, Self Care Forum’s President

At last – good news for everyone!

For adults, even regular activity of less than 10 minutes at a time can reduce your risk of cancer, heart disease, improve your mental wellbeing and help you live longer say the UK’s top doctors[i].

And you don’t have to be an Olympic athlete or spend hours in the gym to achieve the benefits.

‘Some is good, more is better’

The message is ‘Start somewhere and build up when you can’.

They recommend regular moderate activity building up to 150 minutes a week. Sounds a lot until you realise that’s just 21 minutes a day.

They also say that even if you can’t reach this goal, any activity will help. Even better – if you aren’t doing much exercise at the moment, the benefits of little and often are even greater. Just start somewhere.

If you can talk but can’t sing, it’s moderate exercise

Moderate activity includes brisk walking, cycling and shopping (but not online!) so doesn’t have to cost anything. You don’t need to buy any special equipment, shoes or Lycra!

If you’re not sure what you’re doing is moderate activity, if you can talk whilst exercising but not sing, it’s moderate. Having difficulty talking without pausing is a sign of vigorous activity.

Just do something!

Doing nothing is dangerous.

Long periods of sitting down, whether at a desk, on social media or watching TV is risky even if you do regular exercise, so break up periods of sitting with a short period of light activity.

So the challenge is – can you switch your phone to airplane mode for 10 minutes twice a day and walk briskly to work, to the shops or round the block?

Or record a soap episode, go for a brisk walk and reward yourself with watching it knowing you’ve made your life longer and healthier?

One sports brand used to say ‘Just do it’.

The message is now:




From the Guidelines: