Last Saturday saw a steady stream of people escaping the wind and rain of a stormy Bolton.  They took the opportunity to enter the bright and inviting Chancellor’s Mall of the University of Bolton to celebrate the ninth Bolton Health Mela, a fun and fact packed family-oriented festival celebrating all aspects of Health and Wellbeing.

The scene for the day was set well before the public arrived, when health and associated professionals attended the Breakfast Meeting which traditionally starts the proceedings and is designed to allow discussion of a significant contemporary challenge faced by the NHS. The Bolton meeting addressed the issue of how to ensure that the NHS develops a work-force to match current and future demands on the service.

Stimulated by a thought-provoking introduction by Dr Wirin Bhatiani, Chair of Bolton’s Clinical Commissioning Group, guests considered the implications of ever-increasing demand and technological change and how to design an NHS work-force that would be ‘fit-for-purpose’ as the demands made on it evolve.

Developing this theme, University Pro Vice-chancellor Dr. Kondal Reddy Kandadi, and Dr Jane Howarth, Dean of the Faculty of Health and Wellbeing, described some of the existing education and training initiatives within the University relevant to the changing needs of the NHS. Together they affirmed the commitment of the University to provide appropriate support to the NHS community as it faces the challenge of the future.

From the wide range of comments made at the meeting it was clear that, whatever the shape of the NHS in the 21st century, contributors believed that it would be vital to support and encourage individuals and communities to increasingly take ownership of factors influencing their own health and wellbeing. The ‘Health Mela’ format was seen as a time proven vehicle to help them accomplish this.

Proceeding from the meeting to open the Mela, Honoured Guest, the Mayor of Bolton, Cllr. Elaine Sherrington welcomed visitors, University staff and students, stall-holders and volunteers and went on to explore a diverse range of stands and activities providing information, inspiration and practical guidance aimed at developing and supporting the health and wellbeing of individuals and families.

​Visitors enjoyed the unique Health Mela format which encouraged them to check-out, maintain and enhance their own health and wellbeing using the resources and advice available from the NHS, voluntary bodies, local authorities and other organisations represented. Amongst the activities available, family groups tried out a game of badminton. made healthy drinks whilst riding the smoothie bike and enjoyed listening to music provided by a local quartet and from the mobile studio of Bolton fm. Keeping things organised were members drawn from the Rotary Clubs of Bolton who staffed the reception desk and offered general help to visitors.

Thanks to the work of senior students and staff from the health related faculties of the Universities of Bolton, Manchester and Central Lancashire and Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, 46 visitors took advantage of the opportunity for a ‘Health MOT’ with checks on height, weight, BMI, blood pressure, glucose and cholesterol levels. As a result, 18 were referred for further investigation.

Speaking at the close of the Mela, Professor Romesh Gupta OBE, Chair of the National Forum for health and Wellbeing said “It is a real pleasure to me to acknowledge the intensive effort so many people have put in to making today’s event so successful. The Health Mela has proved to be an ideal format for bringing the expertise of the NHS, local authorities and voluntary organisations to communities and individuals keen to be involved in adopting healthy life-styles. The support of the University has been crucial to the success of this event and emphasises the key role it plays in promoting health and wellbeing in Bolton. We look forward to strengthening the links with all our partners as we begin to plan next year’s event.

Photographs in the link below convey some of the atmosphere of the Health Mela:


More photos may be viewed at