Chris Whitty visits Forward Leeds

England’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty along with senior staff from the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (OHID) and Leeds City Council visited Forward Leeds on 25 July 2023.

They met with Humankind Regional Director Lee Wilson and Forward Leeds Director of Operations Helen Cook at the service’s hub on Kirkgate in the city centre.

Those who attended the meeting with Professor Whitty were: OHID Deputy Director Corinne Harvey and Programme Manager Andy Maddison and from Leeds City Council, Director of Public Health Victoria Eaton, Consultant in Public Health Anna Frearson, Head of Public Health for Drugs, Alcohol amd Safer Communities Magdalena Boo, and Commissioning Manager Ian Street.

Lee and Helen gave a presentation about Forward Leeds beginning with a short film to give an overview of the service.

They explained about the comprehensive nature of the service in Leeds that allows anyone who feels they need support to receive it. How highly performing Forward Leeds is compared to other similar city-based services in England. How innovative the service has been in its approach, responding to the changing needs of the community. They also touched upon winning Leeds City’s Partner of the Year.

At the meeting, the attendees discussed how Forward Leeds was making use of additional OHID funding to strengthen the service and offer more support to people in Leeds. Also about the challenges that growth can bring.

Helen Cook said: “It was a real pleasure to meet Professor Whitty, he took a genuine interest in the service and asked a number of really insightful questions about Forward Leeds and how we support people in the city”.

Following the meeting, Professor Whitty also had a tour of the Forward Leeds hub chatting with Health Care Assistant Paul Allen about the innovative use of Fibroscan machines to check for liver health to check for liver health at all the Forward Leeds hubs.

He also spoke with Harm Reduction Team Manager Kim Kaur about the work her team does in keeping the Leeds community safe.