HERO - Health Education Reaching Out

Project Team: Annette Cashmore, Julian BarwellNicola Suter-Giorgini and Joanne Singletary.

CLAHRCH logoHERO (Health Education Reaching Out) is a health education programme developed by GENIE and jointly funded by the National Institute of Health Research Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care for Leicestershire, Northamptonshire and Rutland (NIHR CLAHRC-LNR).

Based on GENIE’s outreach experience and in line with CLAHRC’s remit to improve health and evaluate the best practical approaches for delivering lifestyle outreach messages, HERO aims to:
• Educate and inspire people to take responsibility for their own health, diet and well-being.
• Promote awareness of the links that exist between an unhealthy diet, a sedentary lifestyle and serious health problems in later life.

Through fun and interactive workshops and public events HERO provides people of various social and ethnic backgrounds with the insight to prevent and reduce their risk of developing chronic diseases, such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes. HERO is committed to providing adults, families, students and school-children with a basis to appreciate the long-term benefits of regular exercise, a healthy diet and a stress-free lifestyle.Fruit and Balloons Illustration Courtesy of Carl Warner

Picture courtesy of Carl Warner





HERO activities:

Working with schools and teachers…HERO schools 2

…to develop and deliver interactive, curriculum-embedded activities that inspire young people to take control of their health and engage with science in a university setting. ‘HERO Days’ provide school students and their teachers with a variety of hands-on activities relating to health, diet and exercise.

Schools project: In 2010 to 2012 HERO is working with three schools in Leicestershire to investigate the best ways of getting healthy living messages across to over 800 young people. In doing this HERO aims to determine the approach that best increases pupil’s knowledge and understanding of how diet and exercise can affect long-term health, and to explore their perceptions, attitudes and understanding of diet and disease.

HERO is also working with the Greenwood Institute of Child Health at the University of Leicester to investigate the direct impact of our approaches on attitude to health, behaviour and well being.

Working with University students…

Food@Uni event, 14/3/12...to investigate the issues regarding eating and nutrition faced by students at the University of Leicester and to work with students to design, produce and evaluate resources and events that meet these needs.  We aim to improve students' healthy eating knowledge, awareness, attitudes and diets and to raise the profile of healthy eating across the university.  From Jan 2012 we are doing this through the Food at Uni project with the support of the Student Healthy Living Service and Residential and Commercial Services at the University of Leicester.

Working with the general public and local communities…MY DIET 1

…to raise awareness of health issues relating to people of different ages and social backgrounds through hands-on workshops and events, such as the relevance of food labelling and marketing in everyday life, and drugs and alcohol education for students with learning disabilities.

Working with University and hospital groups

Supporting Families with Cancer Flyer pictureHERO works closely with the Department of Clinical Genetics at the Leicester Royal Infirmary (LRI) to to improve access to familial cancer services for all ethnic groups through research and outreach.  From 2012 we are working with Clinical Genetics and other services at University Hospitals of Leicester, the Department of Cancer Studies and Molecular Medicine and Macmillan to developing interactive educational workshops for patients seen in clinical cancer genetics and their families to learn about the links between diet, exercise and cancer and discuss how they can reduce familial cancer susceptibility.  This is part of the Supporting Families with Cancer project that provides wrap-around support for patients and families with inherited cancer. The project website has information for the public and patients and health professionals.

Working with charities…

MY DIET 2…to raise public awareness of health issues. HERO is collaborating with local charity Hope Against Cancer and with Macmillian Cancer Support and Cancer Research UK to highlight the links between diet, exercise, genetic inheritance and cancer through interactive Cancer Awareness Evenings at the University for the public and further education students and through community road shows.

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Oral presentation at Health and Wellness Conference, 20-22 January 2011

The work of the HERO schools project was presented at the inaugural International Conference on Health, Wellness and Society at the University of California Berkeley, from 20th-22nd January 2011. The Conference addressed a range of important issues and themes relating to Health, Wellness and Society and was attended by a diverse and international audience of scholarly researchers and practice-based participants. A particular highlight of the conference was the emphasis on promoting health and wellness through community participation that is socially accessible and culturally sensitive.

BBC Radio Leicester interview about the HERO Schools Project, 14 June 2011

Podcast logo

Listen to Dr Joanne Singletary and Gartree High School Head of Science Ms Helen Atton being interviewed about the HERO Schools Project on BBC Radio Leicester on 14 June 2011 (courtesy of BBC Radio Leicester).


BBC Radio Leicester interview with Dr Julian Barwell about testing, screening and preventative treatment for inherited breast cancer, 15 Jan 2013

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Listen to Dr Julian Barwell talking with Ben Jackson on BBC Radio Leicester about testing, screening and preventative treatment, including the use of tamoxifen, for inherited breast cancer in light of the consultation on new guidelines by NICE (The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence), 15 January 2013 (courtesy of BBC Radio Leicester).

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Big Ideas for the Future Report, 16 June 2011

The HERO Schools Project was chosen as one of the most important research projects taking place in universities today by inclusion in the Universities UK Big Ideas for the Future report.

Big Ideas for the Future logo

The report, which was jointly published by Research Councils UK (RCUK) and Universities UK in June 2011, pulls together the leading research projects currently taking place across UK universities.

Read the press release

Read the report (PDF, HERO is featured on page 69)

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Contact Details


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University of Leicester
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