Sanjay Ganvir, professional services director and superintendent pharmacist at Green Light Pharmacy, talks to Saša Janković about being part of a community outreach project in Euston, London.

Service type: West Euston Project community charity

Name and location of pharmacy: Green Light Pharmacy, Euston

Name of superintendent pharmacist: Sanjay Ganvir

Why did you start offering this service?

We try to do a lot of outreach and community work because if everybody did their bit for the local community the world would be a better place. It’s not good enough to say just because you work in healthcare you are contributing – that’s the job – so we work with local charities to see what other things we can do. In 1992, our branch in Euston began working with local charities to set up the West Euston Project to organise things like health walks, talks, time banking and so on, and has continued ever since.

How much did it cost to set up the service?

There’s no real cost to us apart from our time, but we are quite good at putting in tenders so helped we coordinate that. For example, we put in a lottery tender and managed to build a community centre to help people access all those local charities in one place.

In a nutshell, what does the service involve?

West Euston Project is a community charity working with local people, businesses and organisations to tackle inequalities in health and employment, running free training and activities aimed at improving quality of life for people in the area.

For example, as women tend to outlive men quite a lot of our patients are widows. There is also evidence which shows that as people become more socially isolated their health outcomes become a lot worse, so we thought about how we could help our local community – and especially these people – create a new network at a desperately sad time for them.

Our idea was to set up a short health walk, as we are round the corner from London’s Regents Park, led by a member of our staff who was trained up to be a health leader. It started with about a dozen women who met up at the pharmacy, we took them for a walk and then back to the pharmacy, and along the way we talked about what exercises are relevant for them, healthy eating, and gave them some added knowledge around health.

Another example is that we have a big Bengali population round here, and we know that south Asians have a lot of issues with diabetes. Especially during Ramadan there were increasing numbers of people with diabetes visiting A&E with daily hypoglycaemia in the afternoon because they had not adjusted their treatment schedule adequately, so we organised some talks at the mosque around things to look out for when you are fasting and how to monitor your health.

There’s also a school round the corner from the pharmacy so we get a lot of young parents coming asking about their children, and we know the mums there have their own networks that meet up at the school gates every morning and afternoon.

This made us think about how being a new parent can be scary when kids are really young – when they are wailing at three in the morning and parents are frazzled it’s hard for them to figure out if there are any red flags. As we knew the school quite well we mentioned this network of parents and they offered us a a spare classroom as the kids were being dropped off so we could talk to them all together about red flags to look out for in kids’ health, and what to do if they notice them.

How have patients responded to the service?

They love it. Our health walks have been going for about 13 years now and got so popular that we were eventually able to hand the running of the group over to the members so its self-sustaining.

Roughly how often each month do you carry out the service?

There’s always something happening!

Roughly how much a month do you make from offering the service?

None of these are anything we earn any money from, but they link with that idea of pharmacy being at the heart of the community.

Would you recommend offering this service to other contractors?

Yes, absolutely. Our overall idea is that there are always little things we can do to embed us in the community and give something back.

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