SMART Cranleigh – Skilling up the Ecosystem

Supporting change to improve Health and Wellbeing

Have you ever met someone who was able to chat to you in a way that is clear and makes you feel listened to, and helps you can see a way forward with a problem that’s been bugging you for a while?

Clinical research has been done by the NHS to help GP’s & Health Professionals adapt the way they speak to us, to help them improve their skills to positively influence people, to encourage them to take action and change behaviour for themselves.

These new methods are based on Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, it’s basically asking the right question in the right way, rather than ‘telling people’, it’s amazing what difference this switch of approach makes.

Cranleigh now has an opportunity to lead the way in taking this new method of communication to a whole new level within our own community.

The idea is that it’s not only GP’s and Health Professionals who we share our problems with. We chat to each other, to shop staff, carers and friends – all of these people have an influence on us. All can be part of empowering us to make changes through the power of conversation.

SMART Cranleigh is working with Surrey Heartlands to enable this community wide unique pilot, teaching a simple but effective conversational skill that makes a real difference to people’s lives.

A successful ‘pilot’ course, called Making Every Contact Count (MECC), was kindly hosted by Cranleigh Arts Centre was held for a cross section of invited people working in shops and local business, statutory and voluntary services including shops, care agencies. Since then interest has been expressed by hairdressers, beauticians, pharmacists, coffee shops, department stores and pub staff, all from Cranleigh!

Gail, who took the free training, said “it was not what I thought. The ‘change behaviour learning’ is a life skill. I recommend it to anyone, simple yet so effective and based on evidence CBT. Brilliant trainer and really helped me as a mother to engage with my teenage children. A useful parenting tool that would be very useful for teachers in schools.“

At 9am on a Monday 1st July, a groundbreaking group of 18 Cranleigh people – shop staff and people working with the public in different roles, gave up their time to come to attend the MECC course. The interactive approach helped people develop skills in having positive conversations around our lifestyle choices to promote change that impacts public health overall – this is, after all, everybody’s business!

Richard, owner of a prominent local business said “It helps me to do this confidently in ways I didn’t realise and gain a level of understanding beyond what I imagined with very simple actions, showing me where I have been going wrong with conversations, to help the person concentrate on possibilities and putting barriers aside for the moment. Very empowering. I used to think it was not my business, but I will now make it my business to share with others.”

Though applicable in every area of people’s lives and the problems they are experiencing, Surrey Heartlands is focusing on the health of the population and ways to prevent some of the triggers, helping people to take action to keep themselves well. These include weight management, mental wellbeing and how much physical activity we engage in, along with the more obvious focus on things like smoking and alcohol intake.

Lucy, another Cranleigh member, said “I thought that this was really useful as I am in contact with people regularly. …Motivational interviewing is a new additional skill. I have put my name down to become a champion and passed the information on to my colleagues”

The background to the reasons instigating this training was the joint research done by SMART Cranleigh and Public Health Surrey in 2017.

SMART Cranleigh and Public Health Surrey worked closely to research the issues in Cranleigh affecting health and social wellbeing; including recent public Health research on Cranleigh East specifically. Here are some of the things we found in our community engagement:

Compared to the rest of Surrey, did you know Cranleigh rates higher than average in the following areas:

  • Children carrying excess weight
  • 0-4 year olds hospital admissions for injuries
  • Binge drinking
  • Higher levels of long term illness, depression & dementia
  • High levels of carer burden and ageing carers
  • Only 1/3 eat healthily
  • Loneliness and isolation

These things are compounded by transport access and expense along with long GP waits.

Other issues that were uncovered were unsafe pavements, inaccessibility to buildings, lack of information of what is available in one place and shops feeling under equipped to help some customers.

Kath said “I now don’t feel burdened by all the problems people bring into the shop as I am now able to know what to say and give them tools to help themselves”

Adam, a local retailer said “It’s about letting the person decide, rather than push all the options at them – definitely something we will use”

The participants said that after the course they felt confident to have conversations with people that can make a difference and help them recognise opportunities to plant a seed for change, followed by knowing where to access further support (signposting). Participants were given access to resources and messages to raise awareness, boost motivation and encourage more informed decisions.

If you’d like to take part in a free training session please contact SMART Cranleigh on As soon as we have enough people for another session, we’ll make arrangements and get back to you with some possible dates.

It’s surprising what we can do when we pull together as a community and focus on positivity . . . and making life a bit easier for each other, and for ourselves!  

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