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17-20 September – Lancaster Health Festival

The Lancaster Health Festival will return to our fine city once again, celebrating and re-discovering the art of living via a series of online events, physically distanced activities, podcasts and videos.

Events will take place between 1720 September 2020 and will be complemented by a series of podcasts and other online content. See the Lancaster Health Festival website for more information, to register for events and to listen to podcasts as they are released during the festival.


The Lancaster Health Festival has one very simple aim: to create spaces and opportunities for people to have conversations – easy or difficult – with family, friends, neighbours, and with ourselves. We want these conversations to help us make simple changes that will have a big effect: rediscovering the art of living well. We feel this is more important than ever given the current pandemic and the questions it raises around resilience.


All event’s at this year’s festival are free of charge and have been pulled together by a team of volunteers and representatives from FoodFutures (North Lancashire’s Sustainable Food Partnership) and our local hospital trust. 


Rev Ian Dewar, Lead Chaplain at University Hospital of Morecambe Bay, NHS Foundation Trust, commented: “Covid 19 has forced many events to close.  It’s fantastic to see the resilience of the Lancaster Health Festival and those involved in it keeping the show on the road.  It’s more important than ever to have open, honest debate about health, well-being and the future of our communities.  An event for the city to be proud of.” 


Anna Clayton, FoodFutures coordinator commented: “Its great to see such a wide range of events come together fueled by goodwill and creativity alone. The podcast series also looks set to explore some interesting and important topics- from Black Lives Matter through to growing your own back garden apothecary- there will be much food for thought”.


Line-up and Events:


Thursday 17 September 2020



Stories of Open Water Swimming with M.A.L.L.O.W.S.

Hear stories from experienced, local, open water swimmers. 

Morecambe and Lancaster Lancashire Open Water Swimmers (M.A.L.L.O.W.S.) pulls together people from different walks of life and physical backgrounds to meet up for quick dips and longer swims throughout the year. There are documented benefits of cold water swimming both physical and mental but other benefits include community and camaraderie. This video series will explore how open water swimming has impacted M.A.L.L.O.W.S. members’ lives, as well as answering some important questions if you’re thinking of joining. 


10:00 – 11:00

Samaritans – how we can help you and how you can help us

Everyone likes being listened to, especially if you are feeling really low or just have a worry or problem that’s praying on your mind. Talking to someone who will help you talk about how you are feeling and will really listen can be very therapeutic. Sometimes you don’t have anyone you want to confide in but Samaritans are always here to listen.

This Zoom session will introduce Samaritan’s 24/7 phone and email service. It will also talk about the other work we do in the local community, including in schools and prison. Maybe you’d also like to find out more about volunteering with us?  This session will finish with a Q and A so you can find out more.

12:00 – 13:00

Virtual Tour and Q&A of Lancaster’s Health Innovation Campus,  with Glyn Jones

Glyn Jones will take us on a virtual tour of Lancaster’s new Health Innovation Campus (HIC); talking through the HIC’s ambition for the region as well as their programmes of fully-funded business support.  The tour will be followed by a Q&A session.


The HIC at Lancaster University has been developed to serve as a hub for businesses, charities, researchers, citizens, academics, healthcare professionals, local authorities and policy-makers to collaboratively tackle some of our significant healthcare challenges of our time.  



The Local Impact of a Global Pandemic Q&A with Aaron Cummins

When Aaron Cummins took on the role as Chief Executive of University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust, he had a vision and he expected many challenges. He wasn’t expecting a pandemic and yet, less than two years into the job, he was facing the local impact of a global pandemic and a lockdown. How did he cope? What impact will the pandemic have on other challenges? How has it shaped Aaron’s vision of what healthcare is and how the Trust should meet those challenges?


Having guided our local hospitals through a pandemic, Aaron Cummins has created this Zoom session to answer your questions. You can submit these in advance via Lancaster Health Festival’s social media channels, or by emailing [email protected]


Friday 18 September 2020



Mental Health Family Hour with Sam Tyrer and Dave Cottrell

Sam Tyrer and Dave Cottrell, creators of The Mental Health Family Hour initiative, will deliver an online webinar on what they have coined as the ‘big three’ mental health issues: depression, anxiety and stress. It will explore how to deal with these issues and also why they arise. 


Mental Health Family Hour came out of Change Talks, an educational programme delivered throughout Lancashire and South Cumbria with a key aim of preventing mental health problems. The Change Talks programme has reached over 35,000 1118-year-olds since the beginning of 2018. Since the coronavirus lockdown, Sam and Dave designed the Mental Health Family Hour to help educate people about taking care of their mental health at home. These weekly webinars have reached over 8,000 people and teach positive coping strategies. 



Healthy and Wealthy with Less, with Michael Hallam

What if we used our carbon footprint to define how wealthy we are, rather than how much we own? Would that lead to healthier, happier, wealthier people, communities and our planet? We invite you to explore these questions with Michael Hallam of The ZERO Carbon Centre, as part of this online Zoom discussion session. 



Scarring and Healing with Leah Dalby

Scars are part of how we heal but not all scarring is helpful. Find out how your C-section may have affected your hips and knees, how your breast surgery has affected your shoulders or gait pattern, or how your abdominal surgery may have affected your back or shoulder yes, even decades later! 



Resilience, Health and Wellbeing with Liz McWatt

Many of us have been thinking about resilience this year and what it means for society and for us personally. In this session, Liz McWatt, a Nutritional Therapist, Homeopath and Shamanic Practitioner, will look towards nature and the resilience found throughout natural ecosystems. She will explore the importance of community resilience and physical resilience, focusing particularly on immune health and emotional resilience, to help participants develop a user-friendly toolkit for survival in modern life. The session will finish with a 15-minute guided meditation.


15:00 – 16:30

Doctors meet Therapists – a conversation about health and wellbeing with Sue Garner and others

Join our online discussion about different approaches to health and wellbeing. The panel will include a GP specialising in cancer, nurse, nutritionist, yoga teacher and counsellor. 



Exploring Claver’s Land, People and Skills with Anna Clayton

We will take you on a virtual Zoom walk around the Claver Hill community food growing site showing you the different projects and introducing you to some of the people involved. We will explain how the project has evolved and impacted people’s health and wellbeing, whilst sharing tips and tricks for growing your own food. This virtual tour will be followed by a Q&A session. 


Saturday 19th September 2020



On Mindfulness with Elaine Graham

Have you experienced endless chatter in your mind? The continual ‘What ifs?’ ‘Whys?’ ‘Should I?’ ‘I mustn’t forget’… it can be a never-ending list. The trouble is, this constant noise in our head prevents us from achieving calm. 


Join Elaine Graham of Tiger Lily Mindfulness & Meditation for an introduction to the simple practice of meditation, which has multiple health benefits, as well as the ability to quieten this endless chatter. Think that’s impossible? Come and give it a try and learn the steps to be still in your mind one of the best steps you can take towards achieving better health and happiness. Elaine was introduced to meditation four years ago by her pain consultant, to manage her chronic pain. She developed her own daily meditation practice and began to learn different styles of meditation. Her daily meditation practice helped her to cope with chronic pain and associated anxiety and depression, so she trained with the British School of Meditation to become an accredited teacher. 



Leisurely Lune Stroll with Melanie Fryer

Starting in Dalton Square, Lancaster, this physically distanced walk along the river Lune will be led by Melanie Fryer, an environmental enthusiast with a background in conservation and farming. Expect to see our local landscape in new ways and finish the walk having connected with new people. To comply with physical distancing, numbers will be restricted to six, and children must be accompanied by an adult. Please wear suitable walking boots and clothes. Booking is essential as space is limited.



Gleaning at Lancaster’s Charter Market with FoodFutures

Gleaning involves collecting excess fresh food and distributing it. FoodFutures, North Lancashire’s Sustainable Food Partnership, will join Lancaster’s Saturday Charter Market, Dalton Square, to share information about Lancaster’s sustainable food partnership and new gleaning network. Come and collect rescued fresh, surplus food from local farms ready for the evening’s digital disco soup – more info about that here: Find us in Dalton Square during the Saturday charter market!


Natural Dyeing and Mending at Lancaster’s Charter Market with Sewing Cafe Lancaster


Sewing Cafe Lancaster will be displaying their Natural Dyeing Project alongside practical advice for mending clothes and textiles at their one-off Lancaster Charter Market Stall in Dalton Square. Learn about the possibilities of dyeing with locally grown and foraged plants, and with food waste. If you have clothing you would like to mend or darn, please bring it along to get advice and borrow supplies to complete your own work. Sewing Cafe Lancaster will also have materials and supplies available to take away.


There is increasing interest and a need for people to learn about and experience alternative, more natural, locally sourced fabrics and craft methods. Whether you’re repairing holes in your warm, woolly socks or dyeing clothing with plants you’ve collected or grown yourself, sharing skills and traditional methods builds community resilience and a connection to the everyday objects we take for granted. It also provides an alternative to the modern textile and production practices that are unhealthy for our planet. A stronger connection to our personal belongings and ownership over the processes of creating and recreating can empower us and strengthen our mental health and creativity.  



Find out about Yoga with Sue Garner

Local yoga teacher Sue Garner will talk about the yoga tradition, different styles and approaches, and the possible benefits for health and wellbeing. Bring your questions! There will be an opportunity (if you wish) to explore some very simple movement, breath and meditation suitable for everyone, whatever your age, gender, size or physical ability and it won’t require a yoga mat or lycra outfit. Come as you are! 


Sue started to practise yoga in India in 1991 and has been teaching for over 20 years. She currently offers private classes, 1-to-1 classes, and sessions for NHS staff and CancerCare clients. Her teaching approach is simple and gentle, helping each person to find their own way to enjoy and benefit from yoga.


14:00 – 15:00

Tara Time Collective Q&A with Julie Meyfroidt

Hands up if you live in Lancaster, Morecambe, Heysham, Carnforth, Halton or another area in the District and you’d like to join a network of people helping each other one hour at a time? Welcome to the Tara Time Collective, a new timebank for Lancaster and District. 


The Tara Centre was successful in securing funding to set up a local Timebank for Lancaster District, to build on all the amazing acts of kindness that have been taking place during these past few months. How it works: every time you offer to help someone you receive one time credit. You can then use that time credit to receive the service that you want from another Timebank member. If all you can offer is 1 hour every now and then that’s great. Together we can build a local economy for skills and services that help us all, whether we are individuals, businesses or community organisations. The service or skill you offer could be online or in person, with some restrictions in place.


The Tara Time Collective also has a Community Pot where you can donate your time credits to a Timebank member that needs it e.g. we could pool our time credits and donate it to Homeless Action so that they can give credits to a man and van to move someone into their new accommodation. Or we could donate it to someone who’s currently in hospital.



Digital Disco Soup with Martin Paley

The challenge: using fresh, seasonal food from local farms we will cook together from the comfort of our own homes sharing recipes and cooking tips as we go and set to a soundtrack so we can have a dance party in our kitchens. From 6pm we will gather on Zoom from our own kitchens, preparing either gleaned food (that you have collected from the FoodFutures stall earlier in the day) or use seasonal, local produce that you have grown or bought. We will then cook our favourite seasonal meals together to music shared live over Zoom. Join us from 5pm for this unique experience and Lancaster’s first Digital Disco Soup!


Sunday 20th September 2020



Physically distanced Claver Hill Tour with Anna Clayton

We will take you on a physically distanced tour of the Claver Hill site, introducing you to its different projects, the natural flood management scheme and some of the people involved. We will explain how the project has developed over the years and impacted people’s health and wellbeing, whilst sharing tips and tricks for growing your own food. You will have the opportunity to take home some seeds and buy fresh, seasonal, organically grown produce. To support us in running this tour safely, we are limiting numbers to six. Booking is essential as places are limited.



Cultivating Healthy Soils and Humans with Dr Rod Everett

Dr Rod Everett will explore how the current food and farming system is leading to ill health and damaged soil. This session will explore the many techniques of farming and food growing that create foods contributing to good human health whilst also supporting rich ecological systems full of diversity. This diversity can provide a healing environment for our mental health. The session will also explore how we can move towards a food procurement system that encourages us to eat foods that are healthy for both people and planet.



Seeds of Resilience with Dionysios (Dennis) Touliatos, Gabriela Toledo-Ortiz and Charlie Gray

This session will focus on the humble seed and its role in keeping us well fed and healthy, now and into the future. We will explore the tradition and importance of seed saving (collecting and storing seed for planting the following year), and will hear about the UK Seed Sovereignty Programme and Lancaster Seed Library’s next steps in developing local seed networks.We will also go through the basics of how to save seeds.  



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