I applied for the Healthbox internship offered through careers and employability at the University of Chester. Having only previously worked in retail before starting my Dietetics Degree in 2016, I saw the opportunity to gain some valuable work experience within the public health sector.
My time at Healthbox has been spent working closely with their public health nutritionist and oral health practitioner. The first project I was asked to get involved in was ‘cooking on a budget’, a project aimed at providing parents of primary school children with knowledge and skills to effectively utilise their budget and provide healthy meals that the whole family will enjoy. I really enjoyed being part of this project as I was able to attend all of the sessions throughout the whole course enabling me to see the difference this made to the parents.
During the Easter period, there was a variety of events to get involved in. This included a Mad Hatters event in Whitby Park which had a timetable of activities such as yoga, litter picking and an Easter egg hunt which I was able to participate in by handing out drinks of water and healthy snacks at a stall on the day.
As part of nutrition in the elderly training for care staff, these sessions included educational talks and practical cooking sessions. I was asked to provide a breakdown of nutritional analysis for the recipes we were using in the practical’s with relevance to the elderly population who frequently require nutritional support. The focus was on the nutrients: calcium, protein, zinc, vitamin D and fibre with an emphasis on the overall calorie value of the meals. I was then asked to deliver a talk on the importance of oral health in the elderly and the nutritional implications of poor oral health. This was a new area for me and I welcomed the task, for part of my dietetics training I had worked with the elderly and found this relevant to my future career whilst learning something new. A later task I was asked to complete as part of the same project was to develop a food fortification activity which gave me the opportunity to apply knowledge from my course and practical experience from my dietetics placement. I hope to work within community dietetics when I graduate and care of the elderly is a big part of this area.
A highlight of working with Healthbox was assisting with Packed Lunch Pals sessions in a local primary school. These sessions were delivered to year 5 pupils to teach them about healthy foods, and sugar limits. They were then able to prepare their own healthy lunchbox which I was able to assist with. I really enjoyed working with children throughout my 10 week internship as you can see how engaged and excited the children are to learn about food and encouraging them to try something new was rewarding.
This internship has provided me with a thorough understanding of community projects aimed at improving health within a local area, I have gained practical knowledge of public health nutrition and interventions which target a range of populations. Thank you to Healthbox!