On Saturday November 14th, in a ground-breaking development aimed to overcome COVID 19 restrictions, the traditional Preston Health Mela went virtual. Determined to maintain its unbroken record of 19 years, the National Forum for Health and Wellbeing set about adapting the popular event so that it could continue for 2020 in a web-based format. The theme chosen was ‘Living Safely with the Corona Virus’. To maintain the wider regional Health Mela tradition (58 have been held to date) the footprint of the event was extended and invitations to contribute were sent to partners previously involved in Health Melas across the North-west and further afield.


In setting up this novel event the production team from NFHW faced many challenges and they watched with some relief as the inaugural showing on YouTube on November 14th  proceeded without any hitch. First to speak was Professor StJohn Crean, Pro Vice Chancellor, University of Central Lancashire. Professor Crean welcomed the event as further evidence of the developing collaboration between NFHW and the University and noted the exciting opportunities offered by the new Mela format.

Picking up on the theme of opportunity, NFHW Chair, Professor Romesh Gupta OBE spoke of the relevance of the Mela to the special health needs of the BAME community and how new avenues of communication gave partner organisations the chance to experiment with new strategies for engagement and outreach. Professor Gupta proceeded to welcome Chief Guest, Professor Maggie Rae, President of the Faculty of Public Health who expressed her pleasure at being invited to be part of the project. Professor Rae spoke warmly about the aims of the Forum and the concept of the Health Mela noting how well aligned these were to the support of individuals and communities facing the present pandemic.


Following the opening ceremony, visitors were able to view a wide range of video presentations offering information and advice relating to the theme. Topics on offer included information on the availability of cardiac care during the current crisis, advice on diet and nutrition, tips for dealing with social isolation, the place of yoga and ayurvedic medicine and much, much more. Several lively dance sessions held watchers enthralled.


During the course of the afternoon over 400 viewers logged into YouTube to participate in the event and many left very positive comments on You Tube, WhatsApp and other social media channels. At the time of writing the total number of visitors to the site stood at 800.


Finally, members of the Forum wish to put on record their appreciation and gratitude for the time and effort of all those organisations and individuals who together ensured the success of this new venture. They look forward to collaborating with them again in the future in a continuing exploration of the potential of web-based working.



Missed it on the day? You can catch up on the Virtual Health Mela by visiting:


where you will find a recording of the day’s events.



Additional video clips produced to support snd complement the Mela are, from time to time, added to the original collection. Watch these by visiting the Forum’s YouTube channel at:


The catch-up facilities will be available until further notice. We look forward to your visit.