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Veena's dream come true

When Veena Shah received a letter inviting her and her children to join a healthy eating and lifestyle programme, it turned out to be just the job.

Because less than five months later she was working for the Hounslow Council-backed scheme as a community engagement officer.

Mum of three Veena was at a turning point in her life when the invitation from the BeeZee Bodies programme came along.

BeeZee Bodies is part of the Healthy Hounslow family and offers support with healthy eating and weight management.

“I was looking for a new direction after being at home for a while,” Veena said. “I was a bit reluctant at first but I thought I would just give it a go to try and improve the family’s health.”

BeeZee Bodies offered a free 12-week programme of support on healthy eating, exercise and general wellbeing.

The 41-year-old went along to the first session with her twins India and Ennis, aged five and elder child Shai-Ram, aged seven. After a bit of a confessed ‘wobble’, the family were soon into the swing of the sessions. The weeks flew by and soon they were graduating from the healthy lifestyle course.

“It was about that time that one of the coaches mentioned that there may be a job opportunity with BeeZee Bodies,” said Veena. “After staying at home with the children, I was looking for part-time work. So, I decided to give it a go.”

Veena was given the role of Hounslow’s first community engagement officer for BeeZee Bodies.

Nowadays, you’ll often see her out and about in the community, talking with people about their health. She also helps to deliver the same course that she and the children took part in.

“I haven’t looked back,” Veena said. “I am constantly out at events and activities and helping people to achieve their goals. There is so much on offer for people in Hounslow if they need support. It’s just a case of finding out what is right for you.”

She added: “On top of all that my family are healthier and happier than they’ve ever been. All because I responded to the invitation and said ‘yes’.”

Her advice to others out there is simple: “Just go for it!”

“Taking a chance has transformed my life for the better and I believe that it can do the same for other people.”

Yazan, aged 10, and his mum

“From the sessions, he wanted to be more active and this has reduced time on the TV and PC. This is the most important thing for us because we always tried to push him to decrease this but we didn’t think he would accept the idea. But then when he started going out and playing in the park every day, he started making friends in the park and this made him like to go outside more and because of this he didn’t have time during the day to play on the PC and iPad. And this was by his own choice.

The recipes you shared were good and the sports classes were very useful. This was the one reason that encouraged Yazan to go to every session because he knows he gets to play and be active. He liked Basketball, dodgeball and hockey. Truly, he liked all the sports.

I am really thankful that I got to meet you, I had a lot of fun going to the lessons. I had fun with all of my sessions and cannot really choose which one was my favourite because they were all great and I had the same, equal fun for all of them. I’ve been enjoying it (swimming and walking) more than before I met you guys… Before I didn’t like going outside and I just wanted to stay online on my computer but then after I met you guys it made me really inspired to go outside and to get new friends and play with them.” – Yazan

Ananyah, aged 8, and her mum

“It was really good and helped a lot. It gives us a view of what are good eating habits and how to change yours. Before Ananyah wasn’t eating any fruits, only apples and bananas and now she’s eating more. She’s also tried plumbs, peaches, and apricots.

She never wanted to try sports in school like football but she did in the session. She enjoyed the badminton.

Normally when she goes to clubs she doesn’t like them, but when she came here she really loved it and was excited to come back. Sometimes I didn’t want to go because Monday is my busiest day, but she pushes me to go because she enjoys it so much.

I really enjoyed the sports session as well and the best thing I learnt was portion sizes and reading the labels.” – Ananyah

Harrison, aged 11, and his mum

“I didn’t really know what to fully expect, I knew there would be learning and some sort of sport, but we ended up loving it.

‘Before we were having a lot more snacks, chocolate, crisps, ice creams and burgers. We always used to cook but we now cook a lot more and get more active and we still have a bit to go.

It’s nice to have something each week and we’ve stuck to it. Sometimes you go ‘oh do we want to go today’ and we think yes, yes we really do.” – Harrison